Thursday, August 28, 2008

Global Politics: Russia

I believe I'm in the minority of views on this point. I feel the Russians have been unfairly treated over the Georgian problem.

The two breakaway regions were apparently given to Georgian back in the Soviet days by Nikita Kruschev and the population appeared to be genuinely unhappy with Georgian rule. Assuming we worked on the basis of national integrity, they became issues of contention for which it was previously agreed upon that Russian peacekeepers were needed.

From what appeared to happen, Georgia seemed to have unilaterally decided to take back South Ossetia by force. I do not know if the response was a disproportionate use of force, but it sure seemed mild compared to a half-the-world invasion of Iraq on a hunch that they *might* pose a threat. So, the accusations on that count seemed totally unfair. From a military standpoint, I believe holding key military installations and buffer zones is a sound tactic to deter a counter-attack, especially if the Russians no longer trust the Georgians not to pull a stunt like that. Ideally they should withdraw into the 2 territories proper, but if Western leaders have allowed Israel to have a giant buffer zone in the south of Lebanon for years, I do not see how their current calls hold any water.

Recognizing the breakaway regions, however, seems like a very bad move on Russia's part, particularly given the poor environment of distrust. I thought there should have been continuing negotiations on that. Now, it just feels like a tit-for-tat in response to Kosovo. It now opens the door for Ukraine to be worried about the Crimean region that Kruschev also gave to Ukraine during the Soviet era.

Anyway, it's all a bad situation and getting worse by the day. My sympathies are for Russia in this case (it usually isn't) and I think Western leaders, particularly the UK and the US, need to take a long hard look at their own behavior before lambasting Russia about theirs. At the very least, they need to apologize for their actions in Iraq or this feeling of double-standards will stick for a long time.

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