Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Return of Mother Russia

Russia has continued the war in Georgia, despite a EU brokered cease fire. This is likely to continue to get nasty, so I thought I would give my readers a quick history lesson, and bring everyone up to date on the latest reports from Georgia. I would also be disappointing my readers if I didn't weigh in on my thoughts as to what the motives are behind Russia and what the next steps in this conflict could be.


Georgia declared its independence just before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Around the mid 1990's, Abkhazia and South Ossetia began to have significant separatist movements. Prior to last week, these areas had been functioning independent of Georgia. Russia has had significant influence in the disputed areas including involvement in the government, stationing "peace keepers" in these areas, and even issuing Russian passports to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Last week, Georgia decided it was tired of the attacks into it from the South Ossetia region and sent in it's military to try and bring the area under control. They failed. Russia responded to the attack by sending it's own military into both disputing regions, and then launching a campaign into Georgia.


Russia now has complete control of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Rumors prior to today said that the Russian military either controlled or had encircled the city of Gori. Between capturing Gori and launching an attack from Abkhazia, Russia now controls the major East West highway in Georgia, effectively splitting the nation in two. Up until yesterday, Russia stated there would be no more military operations, that Georgia had been punished enough.

Today found the Russian army moving towards the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Reports in the capital were getting messages to, "Get out now!" Russia has also cut off the capital from Georgian Ports. This evening, it appears that the Russian military did take control of Gori. The original claims by Russian officials that they had not take Gori were based on splitting hairs on how you define the term "capture a city".

Now What?

It looks as if Russia may be intending to annex not just South Ossetia and Abkhazia (something they have wanted for a long time), but Georgia as well. Georgia also has the only major pipeline that brings oil from the Caucasus to the West outside of Russia. I think Prime Minister (Tzar?) Putin may be hoping to destroy it before this is done. Whatever Putin's motives, this war is a clear signal to the world and to the former Soviet Nations: Russia is the big gun on that side of the world and if former Soviet countries make attempts to join NATO, or become close with Europe and the U.S., watch out.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been dispatched to France and then Georgia to try and negotiate a settlement. She will be working with the French to do this. Hopefully this cease fire will go over better than the last one. I expect any settlement will include Russia controlling South Ossetia and Abkhazia at a minimum. At the end of the day, Putin and Mother Russia will have invaded a free and democratic nation, and will be rewarded for their effort. I hope I am wrong, but I don't believe the EU or the United Nations are strong enough to force Russia back inside her own borders. My one hope is that immediately after a cease fire that holds, NATO will grant immediate membership to any of the previous Soviet states that want it.


BunGirl said...

Just thought I should add, since I have friends over there, that the Russian press has an interesting spin on this. I'm told that they're telling people that this was started by the US on behalf of Israel. A Russian friend of mine IM'd me, quite upset that CNN was blaming Russia for the whole thing. So much for an end to government propaganda over there...

Andy D said...

Wow, that is incredible. I am going to have to look for that...