Wednesday 17th of April 2024

dangerous games .....

dangerous games .....

The risk of a new era of east-west confrontation triggered by Russia's invasion of Georgia heightened yesterday when Moscow reserved the right to launch a nuclear attack on Poland because it agreed to host US rockets as part of the Pentagon's missile shield. 

As Washington accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation" in Georgia and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from the small Black Sea neighbour, Russia's deputy chief of staff turned on Warsaw and said it was vulnerable to a Russian rocket attack because of Thursday's pact with the US on the missile defence project. 

"By deploying, Poland is exposing itself to a strike - 100%," warned Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn. He added that Russia's security doctrine allowed it to use nuclear weapons against an active ally of a nuclear power such as America. 

The warning worsened the already dismal mood in relations between Moscow and the west caused by the shock of post-Soviet Russia's first invasion of a foreign country.

There were scant signs of military activity on the ground in Georgia, but nor were there any signs of the Russian withdrawal pledged on Tuesday under ceasefire terms mediated by the European Union. 

Instead, the focus was on a flurry of diplomatic activity that exposed acute differences on how Washington and Berlin see the crisis in the Caucasus. 

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, went to Tbilisi to bolster Georgia against the Russians as President George Bush denounced Russian "bullying and intimidation" as "unacceptable". 

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, met Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev on the Black Sea close to Georgia's borders and sent quite a different message, offering a mild rebuke of Moscow. 

"Some of Russia's actions were not proportionate," she said. 

Moscow Warns It Could Strike Poland Over US Missile Shield

medals and mink

From The New York Times

The Chinese and Russians scorned each other’s neo-Communist models, but in some ways they have evolved toward one another. Both countries now tolerate a measure of entrepreneurship and social license, as long as neither threatens the dominion of the state. Both countries have calculated that you can buy a measure of domestic stability if you combine a little opportunity with an appeal to national pride. (The Chinese “street” felt no more sympathy for restive Tibetans than the Russian blogosphere felt for Georgia.) And both have discovered that if you are rich the world is less likely to get in your way.

President Bush was mocked from both sides for his seeming impotence. Neoconservatives were appalled by photos of President Bush sharing a laugh with Mr. Putin in Beijing while Russian armor gathered at the Georgian border. For a president who has made the export of democracy his signature doctrine, that looked to the stand-tough crowd like a “Pet Goat” moment.

Others argued that this was a crisis Mr. Bush tacitly encouraged by talking up Georgia’s rambunctious president as a friend and NATO candidate. By midweek, possibly goaded by the wailing of neoconservatives and the aggressively anti-Putin rhetoric of Senator John McCain, Mr. Bush had abruptly amped up his opprobrium and dispatched an American airlift of humanitarian aid. And by the weekend there was a cold war chill in the air.

But Mr. Bush’s predicament is not just his. The question of how to deal with these reinvigorated autocracies bedevils the Europeans and will surely rank high among the legacy issues that confound Mr. Bush’s successor.

This time it is not — or not yet — the threat of nuclear apocalypse that limits the West’s options toward our emboldened Eastern rivals. The Chinese, in fact, are acting as if they have gotten past the saber-rattling stage of emerging-power status; they lavish diplomacy on Taiwan and Japan, and deploy the might of capital instead. The Russians may be in a more adolescent, table-pounding stage of development, but Mr. Putin, too, prefers to work the economic levers, bullying with petroleum.

The United States, meanwhile, is mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, estranged from much of the world, and bled by serial economic crises.

History, it seems, is back, and not so obviously on our side.


uncomfort zone...

From the Independent

Returning from her emergency visit to Tbilisi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew directly to Mr Bush's ranch at Crawford, Texas, while Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, joined the talks by video-conference.

But Washington was still struggling to find an effective response to what it condemns as blatant Russian aggression. Moscow, however, takes exactly the opposite view, and is exploiting the West's discomfort to the hilt.

It has seized the opportunity presented by the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's ill-judged attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia to show that Russia will no longer tolerate Nato and Western encroachment on its sphere of influence.

our way of life .....

American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow. Georgia started this fight – Russia finished it. People who start wars don't get to decide how and when they end. Russia's response was "disproportionate" and "brutal," wailed Bush.  

True. But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days in response to a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured? Was that not many times more "disproportionate"?  

Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush. But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which Serbia had a far greater historic claim than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi? 

Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing? 

When the Soviet Union broke into 15 nations, we celebrated. When Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo broke from Serbia, we rejoiced. Why, then, the indignation when two provinces, whose peoples are ethnically separate from Georgians and who fought for their independence, should succeed in breaking away?  

Is Not Western Hypocrisy Astonishing?

trick or treat?

Georgian President seeks to mend ties with Russia

The Georgian President has struck a conciliatory tone towards Russia as Russian troops begin preparations to leave his country.

In a television address recorded for broadcast later on Monday, President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Russia leave Georgian territory immediately, but also made a plea to mend fences.

"I appeal to you that after your armed forces leave Georgian territory, to start serious thinking and discussions about further negotiations, a further search for ways (to conduct) relations in order not to sow discord between our countries for good," Mr Saakashvili said in the broadcast, which his press office made available in advance.

"Let's not sow discord for future generations. I don't appeal to your mercy but I appeal to your pragmatism and simple common sense. I think the time to make the right decisions has come."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared on Sunday that troops who stormed in after a failed Georgian attempt to retake the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia would begin pulling out around midday.

Blame the defenders...

From The New York Times:

THE acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?

Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction.

The decision by the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, to now cease hostilities was the right move by a responsible leader. The Russian president acted calmly, confidently and firmly. Anyone who expected confusion in Moscow was disappointed.

The planners of this campaign clearly wanted to make sure that, whatever the outcome, Russia would be blamed for worsening the situation. The West then mounted a propaganda attack against Russia, with the American news media leading the way.


cold polar bear

Russia: we are ready for a new cold war
Relations with the west plummet as Kremlin recognises breakaway states

Russia's relations with the west plunged to their most critical point in a generation today when the Kremlin built on its military rout of Georgia by recognising the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Declaring that if his decision meant a new cold war, then so be it, President Dmitri Medvedev signed a decree conferring Russian recognition on Georgia's two secessionist regions. The move flouted UN Security Council resolutions and dismissed western insistence during the crisis of the past three weeks on respecting Georgia's territorial integrity and international borders.

Tonight, Medvedev accused Washington of shipping arms to Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid.

The Kremlin's unilateral decision to redraw the map of the strategically vital region on the Black Sea surprised and alarmed the west, and raised the stakes in the Caucasus crisis. Moscow challenged Europe and the US to respond, while calculating that western divisions over policy towards Russia would dilute any damage.

Washington condemned the move. Britain called for a European coalition against Russian "aggression". Sweden said Russia had opted for a path of confrontation with the west, and international organisations denounced Medvedev's move as illegitimate and unacceptable.


The Serbians must be rubbing their hands in glee...See toon at top.