Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Russian aggression, again

There is an old saying that Russia feels secure only when expanding. After 1990, what was going around came around and the states forcibly included in the Soviet Union gained or regained independence. However, Russian government never lost the desire to mess with their affairs and, when possible, to swallow parts of them.
Last week, "Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had gambled on a surprise attack late Thursday to regain control over his country's pro-Russian breakaway province of South Ossetia. Instead, Georgia suffered a punishing beating from Russian tanks and aircraft that has left the country with even less control over territory than it had before... Thousands streamed into the capital. Those left behind in devastated regions of Georgia cowered in rat-infested cellars or wandered nearly deserted cities. Georgia, which is pushing for NATO membership, borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s. Both separatist provinces are backed by Russia, which appears open to absorbing them. Medvedev said Georgia must allow the provinces to decide whether they want to remain part of Georgia. He said Russian peacekeepers would stay in both provinces, even as Saakashvili said his government will officially designate them as occupying forces" (source: AP via Yahoo! News).
For the record, I believe in self-determination and think that if people (people, not the mafia) of the regions in question truly want to separate from Georgia and join Russia, this insane wish must be granted. I don't think sending Georgian troops there was a good idea. Pointing guns at people is unlikely to convince them that they are better off under your rule.
However, while agreeing with Pres. Medvedev that "Georgia must allow the provinces to decide whether they want to remain part of Georgia", I'd ask him, what about Chechnya? Why are other states oblived to give their breakaway regions self-determination but Russia may wage genocide until the last person wishing independence is dead?
And don't the above described developments remind anybody of Nazi Germany that went on a "peacekeeping" mission to defend the allegedly mistreated ethnic Germans in Sudetenland and quickly ended up occupying the entire Chechoslovakia?
Let me end this post with two more quotes, this time from Brusselsjournal:
"Russians launched offensive operations beyond the secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, marking a dramatic expansion in their war aims — well beyond the putative casus bellum of protecting Russian citizens. (It should be recalled that these “citizens” are Abkhaz and Ossetian locals who were issued Russian passports without, for the most part, ever setting foot in Russia)" (source).
"I wonder is there... chance to see millions of exalted young people passionately marching for peace in Georgia… It shouldn't be too much of an effort. All they have to do is brush the dust off from the "not in our name", "no blood for oil", "war is not the answer", etc placards, paste Vladimir Putin’s and Dmitri Medvedev’s faces over Bush’s or Blair’s on the "worst ever", "mass murderer" and "real terrorist" placards... I am also wondering, will we hear of passionate peace activists, who are determined to go and chain themselves to Georgian government buildings and other such sites to offer human shield against malicious and deliberate bombing by Russian planes on civilian targets. Anyone? Also, it would be refreshing to see similar sense of outrage and hysteria on the part of western media that we witness when American planes hit a "wedding party", armed to their teeth, when reporting bombings of apartment buildings and markets by Russian air forces in Georgia... Plus, has anyone warned already that the Russian military invasion of its tiny neighbor is bound to stir up anti-Russian sentiment and create a groundswell for Georgians to recruit young people to their cause?... Ah, who am I kidding? It is one thing to march against the country that liberated half of Europe and kept it that way for the following 50 years. It is quite another to march against a nation that enslaved half of Europe and kept it under a bloody slavery for 50 years" (source).

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