Filed under: Europe, Foreign Policy, History, Military, Politics | Tags: NATO, Oil and Gas, Russia, Russian Intentions, Russian propaganda, South Ossetia, War in Georgia
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed Tuesday that both Russian and Georgian troops will withdraw to their positions before the present conflict, in order to halt the fighting in South Ossetia.
“I have decided to end the operation to compel the Georgian authorities to peace. The aim has been achieved” Medvedev was quoted by Tass news agency as saying. Medvedev has also been reported to have ordered Russian forces to “eliminate the aggressor” in case Georgians resume military activity.
Uh huh. A military operation such as the Russians just demonstrated is a carefully planned and organized action. Vladimir Putin is pushing to reassert Russia’s authority in a former Soviet state. Putin is using the separatist issue in South Ossetia as an excuse, and if he is allowed to get away with it, all the former Soviet states are threatened. You don’t just round up two divisions, hundreds of tanks and bombers, and a squadron of of warships overnight. It takes a lot of planning and organizing.
Russian bombers have indiscriminately hit residential and industrial areas, and killed hundreds of civilians. Russian forces took the central city of Gori, just 40 miles from Tibilisi, the Georgian capital. Russian troops also invaded from Abkhazia and took the city of Zugdidi to the west.
Russian claims of Georgian ethnic cleansing seem to be well-rehearsed propaganda. This is the first Russian military offensive outside of Russia’s borders. But there has been a consistent pattern of threats and provocations against other Russian neighbors, such as shutting off oil or natural gas delivery to Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and even Lithuania, a NATO member. They launched a cyber-assault on Estonia, and have opposed two antimissile sites in Eastern NATO nations.
There is a message here for Europe from the Kremlin. It says very clearly: We can shut off the supply of Siberian gas any time we want, and we can turn off every spigot in the region any time we choose.
Europe, protected throughout the Cold War by an American military umbrella, has long wallowed in a dream of a world without conflict. But as the well-known adage from Flavius Vegetius Renatum, circa 375 AD, goes “Si vis pacem, para bellum” goes: If you want peace, prepare for war. It remains very good advice.
Filed under: Energy, Europe, Foreign Policy, Military, News, Politics | Tags: European Union, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Russia, South Ossetia, UN, War in Georgia
The crisis in far off Georgia is worrying. Georgia, a former Soviet state, if you look at a map, sits just outside the bear’s den, right on Russia’s border. South Ossetia, a breakaway province of Georgia, wanted to become independent. Georgia reasserted her authority. Russia, massing on the border in the role of “peacekeeper” crossed the border with an additional 10.000 soldiers, and many tanks into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian aircraft bombed a military airfield near Tbilisi. Russia also sent ships to the coast of the Black Sea with reinforcements.
Reports say that Russia attacked not only targets in South Ossetia, but also targeted the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) gas and oil pipeline. The pipeline, in which British Petroleum is the lead partner, is important strategically, for it is the only outlet for countries in the region to get their oil to the international market without relying on Russia.
Russia has been what can be charitably described as a bully with their oil and gas, which supplies over a quarter of Europe’s needs. A gas pipeline called the South Caucasus pipeline is being built next to the oil pipeline. It is important to all the states in the region, including Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Russia has steadfastly opposed its construction.
Another part of the story has been Georgia’s desire to join NATO, and seek protection from the West. NATO’s refusal to date suggests weakness to the Russians, who keep track of that sort of thing.
Russia has not made much of a secret at her anger over the dissolution of the Soviet Union and loss of Superpower status. With oil funds flowing into a now state-controlled oil industry, the West must take notice. It is reported that Russia has just nationalized half of its wheat crop.
The European Union made bland protests, apparently shocked, shocked, that Russia didn’t realize that we had entered a new era when we solved problems by talking. The United Nations did what they do best, they had a meeting.
John McCain said that “Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border.” He also called on “Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia.”
Barack Obama called for “talks among all sides and said the United States, the UN. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.” Obama looked forward to an international peacekeeping force under an appropriate UN mandate.” Appropriately wimpy.
Georgia has pulled out of South Ossetia. Russia is in control. Georgia has ordered a cease fire and called for talks. A little war. Lots of dead.
Do you suppose that these events will arouse a slumbering Europe into a realization of the true nature of the world, or will they go on dreaming of a world without conflict? Of armies that are unneeded and unfunded?
Will Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid understand that drilling for our own oil is also a national security issue? That the Strategic Reserve is a – strategic – reserve. Or will they go on making up stories about greedy oil companies, evil speculators, and threatened species (that are multiplying nicely) and, oh yes, the need to save the planet, rising seas, disastrous storms and droughts and all those other mythical results from a one degree warming that stopped ten years ago.
Well, no, probably not.