Day: October 3, 2008

Russia under pressure

Moscow continues to come under international pressure on the matter of its invasion of Georgia and annexation of parts of Georgian territory.

Russian media initially made much of the PACE decision on Wednesday not to suspend the voting rights of the Russian delegation in order to punish Moscow for its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, it is now clear that the decision was made in order to force Moscow to publicly comply with the conditions outlined in the PACE resolution: these include a demand that Russia must withdraw its recognition of the two separatist “republics”, and if this is not done by the next session to be held in January, it is likely that PACE will vote to implement the voting rights suspension.

It also seems clear that the Kremlin may have miscalculated how the West would take the invasion. Even a Russia-friendly politician like the Estonian Social Democrat MEP Katrin Saks, who recently returned from talks with Russian leaders in Moscow, has said that the Kremlin, and much of Russian public opinion, was “shocked” by the Western reaction.

On Thursday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, on a visit to Azerbaijan, said on Thursday that Russia will now “think twice” before repeating its actions during the Georgia conflict, AFP reports:

“The way Russia behaved in Georgia was unjustified,” Negroponte said at a press conference during a visit to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

“We and Europe helped Georgia after that and we will continue. We think Russia will think twice before she behaves like that again,” he said.

“The way this country behaves has nothing to do with the 21st century,” he added.

“We call on Russia to implement fully the ceasefire negotiated by (French) President (Nicolas) Sarkozy,” he said.