Tuesday, May 6, 2008

War Between Georgia and Russia?

[link is now fixed--thanks to jerry]

If we had a functioning State Department, I'm not sure what they could do. Perhaps if we had someone in place who made her reputation as an expert on all things Soviet and/or Russian who could navigate the issues and approach the concerned parties as a real mediator...oh, but what am I saying? There's no way we'd ever find someone qualified, right?
Georgia is "very close" to a war with Russia, a Georgian minister said on Tuesday, citing Moscow's decision to send extra troops to the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.

"We literally have to avert war," Georgian State Minister for Issues of Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili told a news briefing during a trip to Brussels.

Asked how close to such a war the situation was, he replied: "Very close, because we know Russians very well.

"We know what the signals are when you see propaganda waged against Georgia. We see Russian troops entering our territories on the basis of false information," he said.

Russia has said the troop build-up is needed to counter what it says are Georgian plans for an attack on breakaway Abkhazia and has accused Tbilisi of trying to suck the West into a war -- both of which are allegations that ex-Soviet Georgia rejects.

An extra Russian contingent began arriving in Abkhazia last week. Moscow has not said how many would be added but said the total would remain within the 3,000 limit allowed under a United Nations-brokered ceasefire agreement signed in 1994. Diplomats expect the reinforcement to be of the order of 1,200.

Georgia, a vital energy transit route in the Caucasus, has angered Russia by seeking membership of NATO.

Certain areas of what used to be the Soviet Union were absorbed into that entity to give the Russians breathing space. After invasion after invasion, the Russians decided that these areas on their borders were best held and kept out of the hands of any possible enemy. They're funny about their history--they don't like to see it repeated.

Georgia doesn't need to be in NATO. It should either find a way to accomodate Russia or find a way to be a neutral trader with as many countries as possible. And, unfortunately, "accomodating" the Russians these days doesn't lead to a whole lot of freedom, but we lost an opportunity to bring Russia into the family of nations because we didn't do enough to help them during their economic transformation. Had we spent the money to do so, these regional tensions might be a thing of the past.

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