“The revival of spheres of influence is unacceptable. Yalta is behind us.”
– President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking at a press conference in Moscow today.
Meanwhile, Jamestown defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer has speculated on a possible resumption of Russian military action in Georgia:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an arms embargo on Georgia “while the Saakashvili regime exists” (Interfax, September 1).
It is possible that Moscow is ready to begin to enforce such an embargo, by invoking the “additional security measures” as part of Putin’s mysterious answer. Russian warships and tanks may be moved to Batumi and other forces to the capital of Tbilisi under the pretext of checking U.S. aid shipments. Such a move would effectively choke off Georgia’s connections with the outside world.
By invading Batumi, the capital of the autonomous Ajara Republic, Russia may hope to encourage a local separatist movement to break up Georgia further. Aslan Abashidze, the warlord who ruled Ajara from 1992 to 2004, is at present in exile in Moscow. By taking over Tbilisi International Airport and causing a panic in the capital, Moscow may hope finally to topple the “Saakashvili regime” and at the same time embarrass the hated Americans.
Winter bad weather and snow in the mountains are coming soon. The Russian military has only until the end of October to finish off the job in Georgia this year. The EU summit may be seen as a green light to go ahead, while the West is ready to use only hot words that are watered down anyway by “our friends in Europe”–Italy, France, and Germany, which Putin specifically praised for their “understanding” (www.government.ru, September 2).