Month: October 2009

Who controls Ingushetia?

“The strategy of the new president [Yevkurov] was extremely tough: to pardon all those who could be pardoned, and kill all those who needed to be killed. And no corruption.

“That strategy split the opposition, the insurgents and the security forces. Ironically, the two latter groups of irreconcilable opponents had one common interest: they were both for the continuation of uncontrolled violence. The insurgents – because it creates a base for the Islamic Revolution, and the law enforcement agencies – because it is easier to get stars on one’s uniform that way. Both needed the butcher’s axe, and not the surgeon’s knife, to operate in the republic. Force of the targeted kind that was necessary was not in the interests of either group.”

– Yulia Latynina, writing about the killing of Maksharip Aushev [my tr.]

Baramidze on Ukraine

Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s future strategy for Ukraine, and quotes the views of Georgia’s deputy prime minister, Georgy Baramidze, who foresees not an invasion but a campaign to destabilize Ukraine from within:

Moscow, he said, will try to “create controlled chaos and an atmosphere of hatred,” to play off one group of Ukrainians against another in order to “inflame” the situation. Indeed, Baramidze said, “Russia will support everyone who supports the escalation of the situation and all who pour grease into the fire.”

The Russian authorities can do this in many ways: distributing Russian passports as they did in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and are now doing in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, playing up ethnic and language differences, promoting now one and now another political leader, and putting money in various media projects, all steps designed to exacerbate the situation.

Read the whole thing.

Nothing in return

Eurasia Daily Monitor, on an unlikely project:  

The U.S.-Russia joint working group on civil society issues is widely seen as representing a U.S. unilateral concession, rather than a classical trade-off. The United States is receiving nothing in return for accepting the deputy chief of Russia’s presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, and other Kremlin “political technologists” to predominate on the Russian side of this “civil society group.” Surkov, a godfather of Nashi, will be co-chairing the civil society working group alongside Michael McFaul, the U.S. White House senior adviser on Russia. In Moscow, Clinton said that she expects the Russia expert McFaul to manage this group effectively (Ekho Moskvy, October 14).

Compromising positions

In a post which among other things assesses Obama’s Russia, Middle East and China policy in the light of historical precedents, Ted Lipien looks back at another U.S. president who, in all good faith, tried to “reset” East-West relations. He also has some words of advice for Hillary Clinton, after her Moscow visit:

Appeasing the Kremlin and the Chinese communists in the hope of winning concessions makes such concessions far less likely, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found out during her humilating visit to Moscow last week.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Medvedev couldn’t be more brutal in telling her that putting pressure on Iran to end its nuclear programs was not in Russia’s national interest, when in fact they meant their own interest. Prime Minister Putin went to China and was not around to receive her.

In fact any Russian scholar with a good sense of realism could have told President Obama that the current leaders in Russia want the U.S. out of Eastern Europe but don’t believe that they owe America anything if the Americans leave. They will also continue to rely on anti-Americanism to consolidate their power internally. They want oil prices to be as high as possible, and therefore want tensions to be high in the Middle East. For that reason, they want the United States to be bogged down both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The only thing that the Obama Administration should expect from the Kremlin are Russian concessions that would allow the U.S. to continue and expand military operations in these two Muslim nations.

Charles Krauthammer has more.