SUNDAY AUGUST 31 CONTENTS
(1) Ethan Burger on the Georgia Crisis
(2) EDITORIAL: Dmitri Medvedev, Shameless Liar
(3) Another Original LR Translation: Milov on Georgia
(4) Setting the Record Straight: Ossetia and Russia Started it!
(5) Bipartisan Condemnation of Russia in the U.S. Senate
(6) Engaging Russia has Utterly Failed
(7) Russia Wants Confrontation
(8) The NYT Scathingly Condemns Russia
(9) Shanghai Group Repudiates Russia on Georgia
NOTE: Continuing our tradition of offering a wealth of original, exclusive content in addition to our essential news digest, La Russophobe today presents a trilogy of rich material analyzing the Georgia crisis. First, we offer an interview with renown Russia scholar Ethan Burger, who provides in-depth legal analysis. Then, we offer a translation from the virtual pages of Gazeta.ru, with Nemstov sidekick Vladimir Milov giving insights from the Russian perspective. Finally, our editorial exposes the outrageous fraud being perpetrated by Russian “president” Dmitry Medvedev. Today’s issue shows what we mean when we say: “You don’t really understand Russia unless you read La Russophobe.” We welcome contributions by e-mail (email@example.com) from any source and can publish anonymously upon request.
Professor Ethan Burger
Original to La Russophobe, the noted Russia scholar Professor Ethan Burger of Georgetown University Law Center and American University offers the following analysis of the Georgia apocalypse.
Note that LR has previously published other work by Professor Burger, click the “Burger” link in the categories section of our sidebar to peruse it. Professor Burger’s legal expertise makes him uniquely well positioned to explain the legality (or lack thereof) of what Russia is doing in Georgia and its worldwide consequences.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Welcome Professor Burger, and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk about Georgia with us. It’s being reported that Russia is attempting to issue passports to Ukrainians in Crimea. Do you see a parallel, as some have suggested, between that action and Russia’s similar behavior in Ossetia? In your view, does this action violate international law? Does the U.S., for instance, have the right to issue passports in Chechnya?
Lies and the lying Russian presidents who tell them
Dmitry Medvedev, Shameless Liar
Without even attempting to garner support for such a move among other nations, much less in the United Nations, Russia has unilaterally recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A united Europe has rallied to condemn the outrageous unilateralism, the valiant Chancellor of Germany speaking out loudest of all. Across the Atlantic the reaction was just as grim — the Bush administration called Russia’s action “appalling” and said it “puts Russia of course in opposition to a number of Security Council resolutions to which it is party.” The U.S. Secretary of State said that “the U.S. regards Abkhazia and South Ossetia as ‘part of the internationally recognized borders of Georgia’and will use its veto power in the Security Council to block any Russian attempt to change their status. This simply will be dead on arrival.’”
Meanwhile, Russia still refuses to recognize Kosovo even as it asks the world to recognize Ossetia! But the only international entity to recognize Russia’s decision was the Hamas terrorist movement. That’s a new low in neo-Soviet humilation. On top of that, even pro-Kremlin Russians admit that Putin’s war had obliterated the Commonwealth of Independent States, which Russia did not allow to play any role in the crisis but of which both Russia and Georgia are members. Like Russia’s recognition effort, the CIS is now DOA, and with it goes Russia’s ability to influence the member countries. And for the rotten cherry to top off this massive cake of disgrace and failure, even Russia own Shanghai group of nations has rejected its mandhandling of Georgia, as we report below. Compared to Vladmir Putin’s ham-handed mishandling of Georgia, George Bush’s actions in Iraq make the American president look like Winston Churchill.
And then there’s the hypocrisy! Do you dare to imagine, dear reader, how Russia would have reacted if the United States had unilaterally recognized Chechnya as independent as soon as fighting broke out there, and then moved in with troops and American passports, as Russia has done in Ossetia? One sees this type of mind-boggling hypocrisy only from Russians.
And the precedent! What will Russia now say when various aggrieved regions of its own begin to agitate for independence, and when NATO begins to support them? It seems that no matter how you look at it, Putin has created a total nightmare for Russia both domestically and internationally. And for what? What has Russia gained? Nothing.
Ascending to new levels of heinous neo-Soviet dishonesty in a speech to the nation explaining the government’s position, Russian “president” Dmitry Medvedev lied shamelessy.
Cracks in the Tandem’s Frame
Gazeta.ru — 25 August 2008
by Vladimir Milov*
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
The Russo-Georgian conflict has still further confused observers as to the state the Putin-Medvedev tandem is in. One should particularly note two main tendencies of the last fortnight. Premier Putin has, following his loud speeches about the politics of the conflict at its start in Vladikavkaz on 9 August, has completely ceased to appear in public or to comment on the situation. Instead, he recently chaired a meeting to discuss Russian development up to 2020 which looked at such matters as plans for education and science and the creation of competition. He has not become involved publicly in anything to do with the conflict. Putin’s only overt activity was to discuss the allocation of humanitarian aid and provision of funds for the restoration of South Ossetia’s war-damaged infrastructure.
Ace journalist Michael Totten, reporting from Georgia, confirms what we reported some time ago and sets the record straight on just who started the armed conflict that led to the Russian invasion. Hint: It was not Georgia.
Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.
Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman condemn Russia’s “aggression in Georgia” as a “challenge to world order.” More proof of how totally Russia’s unilateral action has alienated the entire planet (a reader notes that presidential candidate John McCain has cross-published the article on his campaign website).
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, the United States and its trans-Atlantic allies have rightly focused on two urgent and immediate tasks: getting Russian soldiers out, and humanitarian aid in.
But having just returned from Georgia, Ukraine and Poland, where we met with leaders of these countries, we believe it is imperative for the West to look beyond the day-to-day management of this crisis. The longer-term strategic consequences, some of which are already being felt far beyond the Caucasus, have to be addressed.
Enough with the carrots already! Time for a very large stick. Writing in the Asia Times Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the US International Trade Commission, concludes that our attempts to engage Russia have failed utterly. They have been interpreted by the proud KGB spy that prowls the Kremlin as weakness, and motivated him to attack. Hence, Morici calls for a new policy of confronation, especially in the neglected area of trade:
Russia’s invasion of Georgia should compel the United States and Europe to alter their policies of economic engagement to promote democracy.
The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing for the Jamestown Foundation, says that Russia is spoiling for a neo-Soviet fight:
A well-orchestrated surge of nationalistic pride seems to be driving Russia into a major confrontation with the West over the invasion of Georgia. The Russian media is full of brutal abuse, aimed at opponents of the invasion. State-sponsored propaganda has implied that the West is not only supporting Georgia against Russia, but has sent mercenaries to the fight. It was reported that on August 10 in South Ossetia a “black U.S. citizen” was captured together with a group of Georgian special forces planning subversion. It was reported that a captured pilot of a Georgian Su-25 attack plane shot down over South Ossetia “could not speak Russian or Georgian” (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, August 15). These reports have not been substantiated. Continue reading
A brutal cold-war editorial in the New York Times condemns the barbarism that is neo-Soviet Russia (note the scathing characterization of Vladimir Putin as “the dark hand behind the Kremlin’s aggression” and of Russia itself as “a poorly developed, corrupt and fragile state” ):
This is where things stand nearly three weeks after Russia invaded Georgia and radically upended ties with the West: Russian troops still occupy key areas, including the port of Poti; Moscow has recognized the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions; Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, is still talking tough even though his army is routed and his country shattered.
Awash in oil wealth and giddy after crushing tiny Georgia, Russia’s leaders are striking back at real and imagined humiliations. The West’s failure to fully marshal its leverage is painful to watch. But Russia also has a lot to lose. Moscow’s decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia will only harden battle lines and sow further regional instability.
Recognizing these enclaves could inspire a host of rebellions around and inside Russia: Transdniester from Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and the oil-rich province of Tatarstan from Russia. If Moscow has forgotten its horrifying war to suppress the Chechens, we have not.
We know some in the Kremlin don’t care if ties with the West are broken. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the dark hand behind Russia’s aggression, blustered this week that Russia would be better off if it didn’t join the World Trade Organization.
While many Russians are cheering him now, we doubt that they will be eager to return to the grim days of Soviet isolation. For all its oil wealth, Russia is still a poorly developed, corrupt and fragile state. It is not in its long-term economic and security interest to divorce from the international mainstream. When the Europeans meet next week, they should agree to put on hold a trade and security deal with Moscow so long as it continues to occupy Georgia and threaten its neighbors.
Things could not be going worse for Russia: Not one nation of the world has stepped forward to join Russia in recognizing Ossetia and Abkhazia as separate from Georgia, while virtually the entire planet has vigorously condemned Russian aggression, Europe and the U.S. unifying against Russian imperialism. And now, the Associated Press reports, in a starkly humiliating development, Russia has even been repudiated by China and the Central Asian states in its own back yard!