Day: August 14, 2008

Measures against Russia

In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer proposes 4 ways to stop Putin:  

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.

2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin’s dictatorship long made Russia’s presence in this group of industrial democracies a farce, but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. (And if Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, who has been sympathetic to Putin’s Georgia adventure, wants to stay, he can have an annual G-2 dinner with Putin.) Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.

4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusan and Jamaican bobsled teams.

Russia is conducting ethnic cleansing in S. Ossetia

In an internationally broadcast television address, President Saakashvili has appealed to the world to help Georgia.

Russian tanks and troops, together with undisciplined and sadistic Ossetian and Chechen irregulars,  continue to move deep into his country, in defiance of the ceasefire.

Human Rights Watch has published details of ethnic cleansing that has been and continues to be carried out in South Ossetia by Russian forces together with armed thugs and rogue elements that have been unleashed against the Georgian civilian population.

HRW’s Tanya Lokshina writes: ” The remaining residents of these destroyed ethnic Georgian villages are facing desperate conditions, with no means of survival, no help, no protection, and nowhere to go.”

The Russian Idea

Marko Mihkelson has an interesting post (in Estonian) about the current rebirth of imperial ideology in Russia. In the context of the Russian invasion of Georgia Mihkelson mentions the “Eurasianist” ideologues of the “Russian Idea” who are now coming into their own – with official encouragement – in their native land, and quotes one fairly chilling example of such writing and thinking, which is widespread now among “intellectuals” in Russia:

“It is clear that we need the kind of idea for which one will not be sorry to give one’s life. And the building of civil society, of the rule of law, of a prosperous society we find uninteresting. Indeed, we would rather squander everything and end our lives with suicide, than scrupulously count the credit and the debit, invest, corporatize, organize on cooperative lines, and so on. We find that tedious. We would rather try to absorb the enormous spaces of Siberia and the Far East, so that the islands of the Pacific Ocean become indigenously ours, we will fight for centuries with Europe for the Baltic States, and with Turkey for the Dardanelles – that is our way.”

Gates Pentagon Briefing

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at a Pentagon briefing this morning:

Starting last fall Secretary of State Rice and I began what we hoped would be an ongoing and long-term strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation. The expectation was that our two nations, despite our differences, share areas of common interest where we could work together as real partners. Russia’s behavior over the past week has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue, and has profound implications for our relationship going forward, both bilaterally and with NATO. If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the US-Russia relationship could be adversely affected for years to come.

As you may know, we have canceled our participation with Russia in a multinational naval exercise that was due to begin tomorrow. We’ve also canceled a US-Canadian-Russian exercise – Vigilant Eagle – that was to have begun on August 20. In the days and weeks ahead, the Department of Defense will re-examine the entire gamut of our military activities with Russia, and will make changes as necessary and appropriate, depending on Russian actions in the days ahead.

Asked if he still trusted Prime Minister Putin, Gates queried the word “still”, and said that in security matters one works not on the basis of trust, but of reality.

Russian troops breaking ceasefire in several places

A build-up of Russian troops in several locations on Georgian territory, including the port of Poti and the city of Gori, is threatening the EU-brokered ceasefire, which looks increasingly fragile from hour to hour. A Georgian interior ministry spokesman has said that the Russians are “destroying” Gori and laying mines.

Russia is ignoring the warnings given yesterday by President Bush and Secretary Rice.

UN Agencies Call for Humanitarian Corridor []

UN Agencies Call for Humanitarian Corridor

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 Aug.’08 / 16:50

The UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations said they had no access to the conflict zones, particularly South Ossetia.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia, Robert Watkins, called on all sides to the conflict to “establish immediately the necessary security and administrative conditions to allow the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, as agreed in the ceasefire plan.”

“This will enable the civilian population to leave, and allow humanitarian organizations to provide supplies and assistance to those in need,” he said.

The UN agencies said they had began providing relief supplies to 10,000 people across the country that were displaced by the conflict.