Day: August 9, 2008

Joint statement by Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Joint statement on Georgia-Russia War by Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania
August 9, 2008

Georgia Update, a Service of the Government of Georgia

We, the leaders of the former captive nations from Eastern Europe and current members of the European Union and NATO– Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – are extremely concerned about the actions of the Russian Federation against Georgia.

We strongly condemn the actions by the Russian military forces against the sovereign and independent country of Georgia.

Following the unilateral military actions of the Russian military forces, we will use all means available to us as Presidents to ensure that aggression against a small country in Europe will not be passed over in silence or with meaningless statements equating the victims with the victimizers. To this end we intend to urge our governments to take the following positions in discussions and to raise these concerns in the European Union and the North Atlantic Council:

Can the current Russian authorities be called adequate strategic partners of the EU;
Can the family of European democratic countries pursue a mutually beneficial dialogue with a country that uses heavy military armour against an independent country;
It is pointlessness to continue a “visa facilitation” program with a country that does not meet even the minimal requirements set by the EU and which uses visa facilitation to issue Russian Federation passports to foreigners and then abuses this EU given privilege to claim intervention rights such as “we are protecting Russian citizens” in South Ossetia.
The actions of the Russian Federation in Georgia should influence the talks with the Russian Federation, including negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
We underline the obvious bankruptcy of Russian “peacekeeping operations” in its immediate neighbourhood. The Russian Federation has overstepped a red-line in keeping the peace and stability in the conflict zone and in protecting Russian citizens outside its own borders.

The EU and NATO must take the initiative and stand-up against the spread of imperialist and revisionist policy in the East of Europe. New international peacekeeping forces should be created as the current setting proved to be ineffective.

We regret that not granting of the NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia was seen as a green light for agression in the region.

We believe that the EU and NATO as the key organizations for European and Transatlantic stability and security should play a leading and crucial role in securing freedom, security and prosperity of countries not only in the EU but also in the neighboring European area.

It a litmus-test for the credibility of the EU and NATO to solve the conflict in its immediate neighborhood and to prove for all EU and NATO members, aspirant countries and democratic partners that it is worth being members and partners of these organizations.

This Declaration is open for the accession by the leaders of other democratic countries.

President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves
President of the Republic of Latvia Valdis Zatlers
President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus
President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński

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Russia increases air raids on Georgia

The Telegraph, on Russia’s invasion of Georgia:

The two countries are close to full scale war after Russian tanks invaded the tiny territory in response to Georgian attacks on Moscow-backed separatists.

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Foreign journalists witnessed an air attack on the town of Gori early on Saturday morning and the Georgian government claimed Russian bombers had “completely devastated” the Black Sea port of Poti – a key transit route near a major gas pipeline.

Last night Russia had reportedly started to bomb civil and economic infrastructure, including the Black Sea port of Poti and the military base at Senaki. Between 8 and 11 Russian jets reportedly hit container tanks and a shipbuilding plant at the port.

Russia’s military plans for Europe

As federal Russian forces widen their assault on Georgia, now extending it to aerial attacks on targets and infrastructure throughout the country, the information war intensifies. Russia-based cyber raids on official Georgian sites continue: the first of these took place before the Russian invasion, on July 22, when the Georgian President’s website was subjected to a DDos attack. Since August 8, Russian hackers have been concentrating their efforts not only on Georgian government sites, but also on Georgia-based sources of news and information, such as the independent Civil Georgia and Rustavi-2 sites. The message is at last plain for all the world to see – Russia’s intention is to destroy the Georgian state, and to depose its President. The South Ossetian enclave is being utilized to the last as a bridge by means of which heavy armour can be introduced to the republic’s territory, as bombing of civilian targets increases from the air.

Predictably, in some Western countries the voices of people who would prefer appeasement of Russia are being raised. But the difficulty is that, whether it wants to or not, the West can’t stand aside now. The trap that has been set for Georgia is also set for the rest of Europe – for Russia intends to embroil not only the Caucasus but the whole of the continent of Europe in a conflict that could decide the fate of this part of the world for many years to come, and by achieving a nexus of interests related to oil and energy supply, military security and political influence It has already succeeded quite a long way in doing this.

In the Cold War, it was possible for East and West to hold apart in an armed separation that held the peace. We are now in a different era. If there is total war between Georgia and Russia – and the possibility of this now looks real – it will be the worst crisis in Europe since the Second World War, because it will result in a confrontation between Russia and the West –including the United States – of a kind that has not been seen before. As some observers have already pointed out, it will be far worse than the Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia, which were strictly localized.

The cyber attacks which Russia is increasingly using as a weapon to extend its reach are symptomatic, in that they do not only affect the security of states like Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia. Other countries, including those of “old Europe”, are also now exposed. For example, an official British cabinet report has just pointed out that cyber attacks from Russia and China have become one of the greatest threats to Britain’s national security. If we add in the apparent insouciance with which Russian special services are prepared to carry out operations on foreign soil, including acts of extreme violence which endanger the civilian population, as in the Litvinenko affair, and the recent announcement that Russia is to create  five or six new groups of aircraft carrier forces in the Northern and Pacific Ocean Fleets, we have a picture of a Russia that is moving step by step towards a military showdown with the West, and above all with the United States.