The Facts on Georgia
As the propaganda spewing out of the Kremlin reaches a feverish pitch, we take a moment to remind our readers of the basic facts concerning Russia’s barbaric actions in recent days and the recent history that lies behind them.
AUGUST 12, 2008 — CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Putin’s Miscalculation
(2) Saakashvili in the Wall Street Journal
(3) Kagan on Georgia
(4) The Sochi Olympics: A Disaster in the Making
(5) Seeing Putin for Who he Is
(6) The Mailbag: Annals of Russian Ignorance
NOTE: Here are a few recent LR milestones. Yesterday, we published our 10,000th comment. Last week, we published our 6,000th post. Shortly, we will welcome our 350,000th visitor (Blogger and WordPress combined) and record our half-millionth page view. As we’ve said before, these are as much the achievements of you, the reader, as of those who produce this blog, and we congragulate you on them. In light of recent events in Georgia, it’s clear that our work is only just beginning and we are more essential than ever.
NOTE: If there are any readers out there with a talent for graphic design, we want to have our logo above remade in a more professional way and sized exactly 770 x 140 pixels (it’s the wrong size now which is why it looks a bit blurry). The graphic is here. If anyone is so inclined, please forward to us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are those who say that Georgia “miscalculated” by confronting Russia in Ossetia. That is nonsense, for two reasons.
The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakasvili, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
As I write, Russia is waging war on my country.
On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system.
Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia’s making, nor is it Georgia’s choice.
Writing in the Washington Post Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams, issues another clarion call of warning that the New Cold War with Russia is at hand:
The details of who did what to precipitate Russia’s war against Georgia are not very important. Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama.
The events of the past week will be remembered that way, too. This war did not begin because of a miscalculation by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for some time. The man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century” has reestablished a virtual czarist rule in Russia and is trying to restore the country to its once-dominant role in Eurasia and the world. Armed with wealth from oil and gas; holding a near-monopoly over the energy supply to Europe; with a million soldiers, thousands of nuclear warheads and the world’s third-largest military budget, Vladimir Putin believes that now is the time to make his move.
The New York Times reports that, as we predicted long ago, the trouble is already starting in Sochi. Who knows how many athletes and spectators will perish if the world is actually crazed enough to hold the 2014 Olympiad there, a stone’s throw from Chechnya and Georgia, which could soon become the New Chechnya.
Two people were killed and three others injured by an explosion on a beach in Sochi on Thursday, Russia’s popular Black Sea resort which will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, local police said.
“At 10:10 a.m. (2:10 a.m. EDT) an unidentified explosive device went off at Loo beach,” a Sochi police spokeswoman said by telephone. “The blast went off around three meters from the water. Russia’s internal security agency, the FSB and local prosecutors are both trying to determine the cause of the blast,” she said “The beach is more popular around noon, so there would have been more people injured if it had occurred later,” she added.
Sochi is one of the most fashionable Russian resorts especially favored by the elite and Russian presidents use Sochi as their vacation site.
Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin spokeswoman as saying President Dmitry Medvedev phoned his envoy in South Russia, Vladimir Ustinov, and told him to take personal charge of the investigation. The government has allocated over $10 billion dollars to reconstruct the aging resort ahead of the 2014 Olympic Games, attracting both business and criminal groups. So far police have said who might be behind the blast Interfax quoted witnesses who said they had seen a young man and a woman approach the package, which exploded when the woman picked it up.
Sochi is also situated just miles from the border with Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, where looming tensions between Moscow-backed separatists and Tbilisi have fuelled fears of a possible new war.
Posted in russia, sochi
Tagged russia, sochi
Once again showing its journalistic leadership on Russia, the Washington Post issues yet a second stinging, devastating editorial on the Georgia atrocity:
MUCH THAT had been in the category of speculation about modern Russia hardened over the weekend into ugly fact. Many had suspected that Vladimir Putin never intended to allow a mere constitution to force him to cede power after eight years in the Kremlin, and the president-turned-prime-minister certainly seemed to be in charge of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Georgia. Many had theorized that a nation willing, in the service of imperial ambition, to manipulate oil and gas supplies, impose trade blockades, unleash cyber-attacks, and sponsor or at least tolerate assassinations of enemies abroad might not hesitate to wield outright military force; that supposition, too, was confirmed. Having watched Mr. Putin’s destruction of a free press in Russia, some might have wondered how far he would go in distorting reality. His brazen invocation of the Big Lie to justify Russia’s aggression — accusing Georgia of “complete genocide” — provided an answer.
Letters, we get letters, we get lots of cards and letters ever day!
Dear La Russophobe,
Thanks for excellent blog, here’s a tip which might be of interest for you:
There is a Chinese website you can find the worldwide academic ranking of universities by Shanghai Jiang Tong University, a source hardly bothered by human rights issues etc, which lists world universities mainly by their economically important statistics (ie. science, medical etc. publications, Nobel prizes etc.):
By taking a look at the whole list some interesting facts will surface. On the top 500 list of universities Russia has just two, Moscow and St. Petersburg State universities. The comparison to even some very small advanced countries is startling. Finland has six universities on list and Sweden eleven. Japan, comparable in population to Russia has 31, even Brazil has six. It must be also pointed out that top Russian university on the list, Moscow State University, has the position 70, hardly comparable to ranks of top institutions of other large European countries. Russian scientific and technological ability seem to have strong positions…
Write to email@example.com if you’d like to see your letter appear as a blog post!