Essel: Great Britain is back in Churchill Mode

Our Politicians Can Do Some Things Right!

by Dave Essel

HoCsm[1]I never thought I’d be saying this but the UK House of Commons Defence Committee has just published a totally exemplary report on Russia, stating what should underlie the UK’s attitude to that country.

It’s a long time since I have been able to react with pleasure and pride to something done by my country. This report is sensible, literate, clear and organised, and calls a spade a spade. The committee questioned all the right sorts of people, applied collective intelligence to the information gathered, and came up with conclusions that I do not think that any of us on LR would disagree with.

I am particularly pleased to see that the Defence Committee states unequivocally in its conclusions that there is:

• “an absence of shared values” (about time somebody noticed that!);

• that Russia takes military actions that “are not the actions of a friendly nation and risk escalating tension”;

• that “Russia […] acted with disproportionate and illegal use of force by encroaching deep into Georgian territory, far beyond the conflict area”,  “is failing to honour its ceasefire commitments”, and “needs to withdraw its military forces to its pre-conflict positions as previously agreed”;

• that “NATO needs to ensure that a continued commitment to mutual protection—Article  5 [the mutual defence clause]—is at the heart of the new NATO Strategic Concept”;

• “the EU [needs] to  reduce its energy dependency on Russia and diversify energy supply” and “the UK Government should work within the EU to pursue a united approach to energy security and the prioritisation of developing the Nabucco pipeline”;

• that the UK “Government should adopt a hard-headed approach to engagement with Russia,  based on the reality of Russia’s foreign policy rather than abstract and misleading notions of shared values” [very important, this].

Three cheers for the Defence Committee! One can only hope the government it reports to actually listens and acts accordingly. 

Here is the full text of the Committee’s conclusion. The complete document is available as html or pdf here

Conclusions and recommendations 

Russia’s foreign policy 

1. Russia has been hit hard by the global economic downturn. It is too early to judge  how this will affect Russia’s foreign policy. Russia’s low level of democracy may make  it more likely to be assertive in its foreign policy than would be the case with a  Western liberal democratic state that faced similar economic difficulties. (Paragraph  23)

2. The West needs to engage with Russia to develop cooperation, yet the absence of  shared values makes this difficult. Witnesses identified many areas where  cooperation was desirable based on mutual national interests. NATO, the EU and  the UK Government need a pragmatic and hard-headed approach to their  engagement with Russia to achieve the best results. (Paragraph 27) 

Russia’s military capability and posture

3. We welcome Russia’s military reform programme that will modernise and  professionalise its Armed Forces. It provides an opportunity for Russia to increase  the interoperability of its Armed Forces and thereby the possibility for increased  joint operations with NATO forces, whilst also improving the conditions of its rank  and file soldiers. The UK military is experienced in implementing reforms. The  Ministry of Defence should offer support to Russia in implementing its reform  programme. (Paragraph 43)

4. Russia’s unauthorised flights into international airspace, including the UK’s flight  information region, do not pose a direct security threat to NATO or the UK;  nevertheless, they are not the actions of a friendly nation and risk escalating tension.  A further issue is that Russia’s actions threaten the safety of civil flights and risk  leading to serious accidents; Russia should not be making such flights without  informing the appropriate authorities. The Government should take a more robust  approach in making clear to Russia that its continued secret incursions by military  aircraft into international airspace near to the UK is not acceptable behaviour. The  Government should call on NATO to ensure that it monitors and assesses the threat  posed by unauthorised Russian military flights into NATO and international  airspace near to NATO’s territorial perimeter. (Paragraph 49) 

5. It is understandable that some of Russia’s neighbouring states should feel concerned  about the possibility of Russian military action against them given Russia’s actions in  Georgia. Russia has proved that it is quite capable of using military force if it chooses.  Russia does not, however, need to use conventional force to achieve its objectives; it  has political and economic tools at its disposal to influence its neighbouring states.    (Paragraph 52)

6. In contrast to the level of threat Russia poses to some of its neighbouring states,  Russia does not currently pose a direct threat to UK homeland security, nor is likely  to do so in the near future. Although it is hard to conceive of a scenario in which  Russia would threaten UK homeland security, Russia threatens the national interests  of the UK through its attempts to establish a sphere of influence over other former  Soviet States. It is in the UK’s national interest to have stable democratic and  independent states in Eastern Europe as this enhances European security. Russia’s  behaviour risks undermining this and thereby working against our own national  interests. (Paragraph 53) 

The Georgia conflict 

7. We welcome the EU’s investigation into the causes of the Georgian-Russian conflict.  Understanding the history and causes of the conflict is a prerequisite to achieving  peace in the region.  While awaiting the EU’s forthcoming report that should provide  a more detailed assessment of the causes of the conflict, we conclude that:

•Responsibility for the conflict was shared, in differing measures, by all parties. Both  Russia and Georgia share responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of the  conflict that have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced from their homes.  

• Russia provoked Georgia through its actions over many years. Russian provocation  included fuelling separatism in the region through the distribution of passports in  the breakaway Georgian territories, building up its military forces in the region and  through its recognition of the separatist territories in Spring 2008. 

• President Saakashvili’s decision to launch an offensive on 7 August was politically  reckless. Russia reacted swiftly to remove Georgian forces from South Ossetia.  Russia also acted with disproportionate and illegal use of force by encroaching  deep into Georgian territory, far beyond the conflict area. (Paragraph 74) 

 8. There was a collective international failure at a political level to read the warning  signs of an escalating conflict. The UK Government has stated its commitment to  securing peace in Georgia. Ministers need to learn from history, and should carefully  monitor intelligence on the situation in the Caucasus, to ensure that any future  outbreak of conflict in the region does not come as a surprise. (Paragraph 75) 

9. Russia is failing to honour its ceasefire commitments under the agreements of 12  August and 8 September 2008.  We recommend that the UK Government send a  strong message to Russia that it needs to withdraw its military forces to its pre-  conflict positions as previously agreed. (Paragraph 81) 

10. We regret that the UN and OSCE monitoring missions have been forced to close.  Their closure increases the vital importance of the EU monitoring mission in  Georgia and the need for its mandate to be strengthened as well as extended. The EU  monitoring mission has a vital role in acting as a deterrent to further military action  and promoting stability. The UK Government should increase its diplomatic efforts  to secure an extension in time and strengthening of the EU monitoring mission in  Georgia, including enabling the mission to have full access to the disputed territories.  (Paragraph 89) 

11. Russia has breached internationally accepted principles of sovereignty and territorial  integrity by unilaterally recognising the independence of South Ossetia and  Abkhazia. The prospect of South Ossetia and Abkhazia returning under the  sovereign control of Georgia in the near future appears slight while the Russian  military presence remains in these territories. It is vital for international security that  NATO, EU and the UK Government remain resolute in their commitment to  Georgia’s sovereignty and international law. The international community has a vital  role in securing stability and peace in the region. UK Ministers should press for the  EU, UN and OSCE to secure a lasting peace settlement in the disputed territories.  (Paragraph 93) 

Russia and NATO 

12. We welcome the resumption of formal engagement between NATO and Russia on  the NATO-Russia Council. Engagement provides a platform for progress in building  trust and cooperation. This should not, however, be at the cost of abandoning a  commitment to the territorial integrity of Georgia. NATO should continue to make  clear to Russia that its actions in Georgia were disproportionate and that it should  honour its ceasefire commitments in Georgia. (Paragraph 99) 

13. For the NATO-Russia Council to be effective in building trust between NATO and  Russia there needs to be an honest dialogue on areas of disagreement as well as  agreement. The UK Government should encourage the NRC to be used as a forum  to discuss difficult and strategic issues—such as NATO enlargement, Georgia, and  human rights—as well as issues where cooperation is more likely. (Paragraph 101) 

14. Arctic security is an issue of growing strategic importance as sea routes are opened  up as a result of climate change. NATO has a critical role to play in securing Russian  cooperation or at least minimising tensions over the territory. (Paragraph 104) 

15. There are many opportunities for NATO to pursue cooperation with Russia for  mutual benefit. The full potential of the NATO-Russia Council will not be realised  until it takes strategic decisions on the priority areas for cooperation. In relation to  these areas of potential cooperation, the NATO-Russia Council should focus its  efforts on key strategic areas where there is a consensus within NATO and realistic  prospects for success: these areas could include arms control, the Arctic and  Afghanistan. We recommend that the UK Government identify and communicate  within NATO what its priority areas are for cooperation with Russia. (Paragraph  106) 

16. The Government should work within NATO to secure an agreement with Russia on  the transit of NATO military goods through Russian territory to ISAF forces in  Afghanistan. We acknowledge that the UK currently relies on a southern transit  route to supply its Armed Forces, yet it has a vital interest in ensuring the  effectiveness of the entire coalition mission in Afghanistan. The Alliance’s  effectiveness would be enhanced by accessing an alternative supply route for its  military goods other than through Pakistan. (Paragraph 111) 

17. Russia should not have a veto over NATO membership. The costs of NATO closing  the door on further enlargement are as great as the costs of premature enlargement.  (Paragraph 122) 

18. Acceptance of new NATO members should continue to be performance-based; if a  country meets the criteria for membership, and can demonstrate that it is able to  contribute to the security of existing NATO members it should be permitted to join.  We believe it is essential that NATO’s open door policy is maintained on this basis.  Ending it is not in the interests of NATO or of European stability as a whole.  Signalling that the Alliance has reached its outer limits, or ruling out further  expansion, would consign those countries left outside NATO to an uncertain future,  potentially creating instability on the Alliance’s Eastern fringes. Perpetuating this  instability is not in the interests of any member of the NATO Alliance. (Paragraph  123) 

19. Georgia’s unresolved territorial disputes considerably complicate NATO’s decision-  making on whether to grant Georgia membership or not. On the one hand,  Georgia’s membership may strengthen democracy and stability within the country  and possibly beyond. On the other hand, its unresolved territorial disputes could risk  NATO becoming embroiled in a direct conflict with Russia. While Georgia is  working towards meeting the performance criteria for membership this issue can be  avoided. But it can not be avoided indefinitely. At some point in the future, NATO  will need to make a difficult decision on whether to grant Georgia membership in  light of the harsh reality of the situation on the ground. It is vital that NATO does  not allow Russia to dictate this decision; yet it is also vital that NATO considers the  possible consequences arising from allowing a country to join while it has unresolved  territorial disputes which it is in Russia’s interests to perpetuate in the short term.  (Paragraph 127) 

20. If NATO does grant Georgia membership it should do so to the whole of Georgia’s  sovereign territory, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia. To do otherwise would be  to recognise Russia’s actions in those parts of Georgia as having some legitimacy.  This is a very serious issue to which we do not have an answer. Yet the international  community must work to address it to produce an answer and, in doing so, reduce  the tension between Georgia, Russia and NATO. This will be achievable only with a  recognition by Russia that its long-term interests lie in stable and harmonious  relations in the South Caucasus region, rather than a relationship of threats and  domination. (Paragraph 128) 

21. For Ukraine to have a realistic chance of joining NATO, it not only needs to meet the  performance criteria for membership, but it needs also to demonstrate that its public  are supportive of its membership. (Paragraph 129) 

22. NATO needs to ensure that a continued commitment to mutual protection—Article  5—is at the heart of the new NATO Strategic Concept. NATO’s global role is vital,  given the shared challenges its Member States face. Yet this should not come at the  expense of the Alliance’s commitment towards mutual defence. (Paragraph 133) 

23. Central and Eastern European NATO members are understandably concerned about  their security. Countries such as Estonia have proved to be valuable allies,  particularly in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, and it is right that we reassure them  about their security. NATO should take steps to reassure Central and Eastern  European NATO members that their security is of vital importance to the Alliance.  (Paragraph 134) 

24. NATO should update its contingency plans for responding to an armed attack on its  members, including ensuring that these plans cover the eventuality of attack on  Baltic Member States, and setting out NATO’s planned military response.  (Paragraph 137) 

25. We believe that NATO’s decision to enhance the remit of the NATO Response  Force, rather than creating new structures, is sensible. It is vital that the NATO  Response Force is able to reassure Central and Eastern European Member States.  NATO should maintain a visible military presence in the Baltic States, including  through the use of air-policing and conducting exercises in the region. (Paragraph  139)

26. The UK, alongside many other countries, faces an increasing threat of cyberattack.  Cybersecurity is an issue of increasing significance for the UK and NATO as society  becomes increasingly dependent on information and communication technology.  The cyberattacks on Estonia and Georgia demonstrate the importance of the UK and  NATO developing robust resilience. (Paragraph 151) 

27. We welcome the Government’s publication of a National Cybersecurity Strategy and  the establishment of new offices to coordinate and implement cybersecurity  measures. Despite information from the MoD, we are still not clear what the exact  role and contribution of the MoD is towards national cybersecurity. In the  Government’s response to our Report, we recommend the Government to set out  more clearly the MoD’s current and future work in relation to national cybersecurity.  The MoD should also ensure that the importance of cybersecurity is reflected within  its planning and resource allocation. (Paragraph 152) 

28. Given the importance that the Government now attaches to national cybersecurity,  we call on it to explain its decision not to sponsor the NATO Cyber Defence Centre  of Excellence. The UK Government should urge NATO to recognise the security  challenge posed by electronic warfare in NATO’s new Strategic Concept. NATO  should give cybersecurity higher priority within its planning to reflect the growing  threat that this poses to its members. NATO should ensure that the work of the  Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is fully supported, including financially.  (Paragraph 153) 

European security and Russia 

29. We welcome the resumption of a dialogue between the EU and Russia on a new  Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Yet the Government’s position, that the  ‘pace and tone’ of negotiations on a new PCA will be informed by Russia’s fulfilment  of its obligations under the ceasefire agreements in Georgia, does not provide  sufficient clarity on the Government’s position. The Government should make a  clear public statement that it will not sign up to a new Partnership and Cooperation  agreement unless Russia honours its ceasefire commitments. (Paragraph 158) 

30. We note the concern expressed by witnesses about Russia’s motives in proposing a  new European security architecture. We are not convinced that there is a need for  such a new architecture, which may undermine the primacy of NATO’s security role.  Nevertheless, engagement with Russia on this matter is necessary to understand their  security concerns. The current proposals are vague; Russia needs to come forward  with further details of its proposals to enable a meaningful dialogue to take place.  The UK Government should maintain its willingness to engage with Russia on this  issue, but should make clear that it will not commit to an agreement that overrides  existing commitments to NATO and human rights. We support the OSCE’s role in  taking forward initial discussions on the new security architecture. (Paragraph 166) 

European energy security and Russia 

31. Regardless of the causes of the Ukraine-Russia gas dispute, it is clear that it has  damaged the reputations of both countries as reliable suppliers. The threat and  reality of Russia cutting off energy supply demonstrates the need for the EU to  reduce its energy dependency on Russia and diversify energy supply. (Paragraph  176) 

32. It is too early to judge what the long-term effect of the global economic crisis will be  on future EU energy demand. Yet the EU needs to press ahead in diversifying its  energy supply to ensure that it is not vulnerable to supply disputes (Paragraph 178) 

33. The UK Government should work within the EU to pursue a united approach to  energy security and the prioritisation of developing the Nabucco pipeline.  (Paragraph 184) 

34. In our view NATO should have a role in energy issues but it should not play a  leading role; this is more appropriately a matter for the EU. Nevertheless, energy is  an issue that it is legitimate for NATO to be concerned about because there are  significant security implications arising from the possibility of disputes between  countries over energy supplies and the potential for states to use their military assets  to defend pipelines. The Government should work within NATO to develop an  approach on energy issues that focuses on the security aspects of the energy agenda.   (Paragraph 187) 

Global security 

35. A strong bilateral relationship between the US and Russia is vital for global security.  Yet it is also important for European security that this relationship does not come at  the expense of the NATO-Russian relationship. (Paragraph 190) 

36. We welcome the US-Russian negotiations on a nuclear arms reduction treaty to  succeed START I. We support the recommendation made by the Foreign Affairs  Committee in its Report, Global Security: Non-Proliferation, that the Government  should offer every assistance to facilitate a speedy and productive conclusion to the  negotiations on a treaty to replace START I. We ask the Government, in its response  to our Report, to set out what steps it has taken to facilitate an agreement.   (Paragraph 195) 

37. We are not convinced that European security will be enhanced by the United States’  planned ballistic missile defence (BMD) system as currently envisaged. If the US  decides to press ahead with its BMD plans, we recommend that the Government  seek ways to involve Russia in its development. (Paragraph 203) 

38. Russia has an important bilateral relationship with Iran and thereby has a vital role in  preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We call on the Government to  encourage Russia to persuade Iran to comply with its nuclear obligations. (Paragraph  208) 

Conclusion 

39. Although Russia does not pose a military threat to NATO as an Alliance, some  Central and Eastern European NATO Member States are understandably concerned  about the military threat that Russia poses to them individually, given Russia’s  actions in Georgia. It is important they are reassured. (Paragraph 211) 

40. It is in NATO’s interests to continue to support the territorial integrity of Georgia. If  Russia believes it has carte blanche to disregard international law there is an  increased risk of other countries suffering the same fate as Georgia. The credibility of  NATO as a military alliance is based on its ability to provide mutual defence to its  Member States, as outlined in Article 5. NATO’s new Strategic Concept should  contain a renewed commitment to Article 5 as well as ensuring that NATO is  militarily capable of acting inside and outside of NATO boundaries. NATO is  strongest when its Member States are united; the UK Government should work  within NATO to ensure that this is achieved. (Paragraph 212) 

41. It is right that NATO, the EU and the UK Government engage with Russia both on  areas of cooperation and areas of disagreement. Russia has much to gain from  positioning itself firmly within the community of nations. Engagement is important  to build trust and avoid a new confrontation arising between Russia and the West. The Government should adopt a hard-headed approach to engagement with Russia,  based on the reality of Russia’s foreign policy rather than abstract and misleading  notions of shared values. (Paragraph 213)

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22 responses to “Essel: Great Britain is back in Churchill Mode

  1. The British Lion, now degraded to a poodle, tries to roar, lion style… a sorry sight. :-(

  2. Yevgeny ,
    Excellent point , sort of like the toothless , claw- less , hungry , drunken , mangy moscovite dog
    masquerading as a ” bear “.

    • That’s exactly what the Georgians thought about a year ago. ;-)

      • Adame Eshmakidze

        Yeah, I am sure they thought that when your flea infested horde swept over a better parcel of land. Looting drunkenly over a landscape that was golden, with a future, something that no Russian could possibly fathom. Give your AK’s to the Chechens in the forest, and may they give you vodka with bleach. It’s exactly what you deserve. Know this much – there’s not enough land between our trenches and yours Yevgeny rat.

        • Okay, Adame.

          How many neckties should we send your president to chew next time? :-)

          • Adame Eshmakidze

            I have a necktie for you. For references check out the South American variety.

            • Well said chemi dzma.

              Eugene is a typical gutless Russian coward.
              Such scum are only of any use in large numbers.

              BTW Eugene, at least the Georgian president does not enjoy having another mans hand up his arse, unlike Medvedev and his boyfriend Putin.

              • Not really? I wonder how soon will he rename the G.W.Bush Avenue in Tbilisi in Obama’s honor…

                • Adame Eshmakidze

                  Maybe when you guys fully rehabilitate Stalin? You do know he was Georgian right? I’d rather have Obama avenue rather than some douche-baggery you fools would pull – like Yermelov Avenue.

  3. Nice report, but total waste of time nevertheless. As is the case with congressional resolutions here (in the US), it will achieve absolutely nothing. The government will still be kowtowing before Lilliputin.

  4. Thanks, Dave.

    Thank God the Brits have common sense. Good-bye Brown and Labour which is coming and will see more of it in foreign policy I hope.

    I’d put this recommendation on top as it would end the EU’s appeasements:

    ……the EU needs to press ahead in diversifying its energy supply to ensure that it is not vulnerable to supply disputes.

    The statement of “a lack of shared values” is important as it clearly defines Russia as outside of western values. It’s a clear indictment of the Putin regime. The US needs to follow with a same definition of Russia.

    • Penny,

      You didn’t demand that the Red Army men who gave their lives fighting Hitler in the WWII necessary share your “values”. Why such hue and cry about them now? Maybe because Russians now see what those “values” are really are – glass beads traded for gold to ignorant savages?

      • Eugene,
        Speaking of “ignorant savages”, how are you doing today? How’s life in the FSB? Good wages, but bad hours? About those valiant Red Army men during WWII, ask the unfortunate women who were in their path, and they would agree that you depraved Rooshan’s don’t share the west’s values.

        • Lets see, German/Soviet kill loss ratio for tanks was an almost constant 3/4 to 1 in favour of the Germans throughout the war.

          This was despite the fact that for most of the war on the eastern front the majority German tanks were smaller, lighter, and less heavily armed than the Russian KV’s T-34’s and IS-1 & IS-2 tanks.

          The Russians won through “steamroller” tactics, using human waves and mass tank assaults with the corresponding horrific losses such crude and simplistic tactics were bound to cause.

          http://operationbarbarossa.net/Myth-Busters/MythBusters2.html

          Russia suffered very heavy casualties last year in Georgia according to Latynina and other Russian reporters, including at least 2 armoured battallions rendered “hors de combat” one of which (including the commander of the entire operation) was wiped out near the ethnic Georgian village of Tamarsheni, some of the destruction shown live on TV.

          “Hodge-podge-2

          In the morning of 8th of August, Russian TV channels announced that fascist Georgia treacherously invaded a small nation of South Ossetia, and its main town of Tskhinvali had been razed to the ground by “Grad” missiles.

          Russian public also learnt that Georgian fighter jets attacked a humanitarian convoy bringing aid to Tskhinvali in the night of 7th to 8th of August. Russian TV news channel Vesti also told us that Georgian SU-25 warplane bombing Tskhinvali civilians was shot down by South Ossetian defenders, and that its pilot was “torn apart” by furious local residents.

          3 pm that very day, we learnt that Russia decided to help South Ossetia, and that columns of Russian tanks are moving toward Rocky tunnel (on the Russia’s border with Georgia, – GT). In two hours, we were told that Tskhinvali is liberated. For next two days, South Ossetian press office kept repeating that although Tskhinvali is freed from Georgians, the town is still under fire from nearby hills, while Georgian snipers are killing civilians in the streets.

          While official Russian television keeps telling us about crimes committed by Georgian monsters, more and more questions are raised, because, – just like in Orwell’s “1984” novel, – what was said just a day before does not tie to what is said today, and even preceding paragraph contradicts with the next.

          Let’s examine, e.g., this story about humanitarian convoy, attacked by Georgian fighter jets during the night of 7th to 8th of August. What idiot would send humanitarian aid by the road which was likely to be crowded by refugees and vehicles? And then again, why send humanitarian aid to South Ossetia if, according to South Ossetian authorities, an entire civilian population of South Ossetia was already evacuated three days earlier? And if this was a military convoy, – not a humanitarian one, – then would that mean it left Russia before this war even started?

          Maybe there was no such convoy? Maybe, Georgians were falsely accused of bombing it? No, there were witnesses who saw it. It was spotted in Java (town half way to Tskhinvali from Russo-Georgian border, GT) early morning, at 5 am, by Russian TV “Zvezda” reporter Naziullin. He described what he saw as “the column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles just passed near us”.

          Or, let’s take that Georgian warplane bombing Tskhinvali in the morning of 8th of August. Worth noting that Russian public at that time did not know that Russian air force was already bombing Georgian villages and town of Gori. We were only told about Georgian warplane that bombed Tskhinvali. However, any intelligent person would wonder why Georgians bombed Tskhinvali after it was already taken by them? Were they bombing their own tanks?

          It would be enough to show what’s left of that Georgian warplane, any documents proving the identity of Georgian pilot. None were available. And, by the way, the pilot who was shot down over Tskhinvali in the morning of 8th of August was buried in Russian town of Buddyonovsk…

          Mismatches mounted further. Russian reporters who were in Tskhinvali that night of 7th to 8th of August made it clear that Russian troops did not liberate Tskhinvali on 8th of August.

          Even worse, – Russian troops did not make it on 9th of August either. The Russian column that attempted to break through to Tskhinvali that day of 9th of August was led by the head of entire 58th Russian army, General Khrulyov himself. We know what happened to this column very well, as it was accompanied by TV Vesti crew, as well as by the newspaper reporters of Moskovsky Komsomolets (Vladimir Sokirko) and Komsomolskaya Pravda (Alexandre Kots).

          “Shot at point blank”, describes Vladimir Sokirko an annihilation of this column, “rocket-propelled grenade hit an armored vehicle at the front of the column, and column grinded to halt under torrent of fire. I saw machine gun pointed at me, from some six meters or so, and young girl in NATO uniform who was aiming it at me. She was about 25-year old, this Georgian girl, not very tall, rather attractive, one may say pretty. Uniform suited her well. This crossed my mind in a split of a second. I shouted “I am a reporter!” She lowered her machine gun, and that very instant was killed by machine gun volley that cut her in two”.

          TV news Vesti is announcing liberation of Tskhinvali, while head of 58th Russian army is sitting among corpses of his soldiers.

          “Entire battalion is destroyed” he roars, pounding the soil with his fists, “Why?! Why?! I told them!”

          Why am I describing all this in such detail?

          Because, as we can see, Georgians controlled Tskhinvali on 8th of August, and on 9th of August. So, who was shelling this town then, full of Georgian tanks? And what happened to another column which was believed to have taken Tskhinvali a day before, on 8th of August?

          “I will hang Saakashvili by his balls”, allegedly told Putin to Nikolas Sarkozy on 11th of August, when Russian tanks were already in Gori. “Bush hanged Saddam, why can’t I?”

          I am sorry, – what for? Because Saakashvili’s troops attacked the convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles that mysteriously emerged in the middle of South Ossetia even before Georgians took Tskhinvali? Because our troops could not take Tskhinvali during next two days, although they entered South Ossetia before Georgians? Because they were destroying Tskhinvali during these two days and were telling us all this time that it was Georgians who did it? Because the head of 58th Russian army that was sent by Kremlin to fight for Kokoyti’s regime (South Ossetian president, GT) is sitting on the burnt soil with his fists clenched?

          Well, on second thought, – yes. This is exactly the situation when you wish to see your enemy hung by his balls. ”

          http://russiangeorgianwar.blogspot.com/2009/02/julia-latynina-articles-on-august-war.html

          • > Russia suffered very heavy casualties last year in Georgia according to Latynina

            Is the Red-Hared Louse a telepath as well? for all I know, he didn’t have a chance to visit the theater of operations last August…

  5. What about the Germans and the French? No to mention the Dutch, Spanish and Italians who are all cozy with Putin’s Russia?

    If the Europeans are not willing to send significant forces and engage in actual combat in Afghanistan. What makes you think they’ll join in a coalition against Russia? Third-world “Islamo-Fascists” is one thing, Nuclear Russia is another proposition.

    Will Germany, Holland, Italy risk their energy deals with Russia in this new confrontation?

  6. Warren, at least Germany under Merkel seems to get it. Sarkozy represents the same unreliable gadfly that the French have always been. The EU added more right-of-center delegates this past election. We can hope.

    • Really Penny?

      Considering Germany under Merkel is still intending to complete Nord Stream thereby stabbing Poland and Ukraine in the back, along with being the biggest opponent of instituting NATO action plans for the Baltic republics and Poland, and vetoing Georgian and Ukrainian membership of NATO (in case it offends Russia) and is the biggest pusher for “normalisation” of EU relations with Russia (read appeasement) in Europe, I think you need to get your facts right.

    • For some examples of Merkel NOT “getting it” where Russia is concerned:

      Russian, German Leaders Meet For Economic Talks

      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the picturesque Schleissheim Palace near Munich for talks dominated by economic issues.

      But the original agenda was overshadowed by the murder on July 15 of the prominent Russian rights activist Natalya Estemirova.

      Merkel voiced dismay at the murder, while Medvedev said he was confident Estemirova’s killer would be found and punished.

      Otherwise, it was the two countries’ substantial economic ties that dominated talks. Following a private meeting, the two leaders were joined by top officials including both countries’ economy ministers.

      The two sides agreed a number of deals, including one for Siemens to deliver trains to Russia.

      On gas, the two discussed the planned Nord Stream pipeline to bring Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

      Medvedev called on Sweden, which has expressed environmental concerns, to clear the project so that construction could begin.

      And then there was the Russian-backed deal to buy carmaker Opel.

      “We had quite a long discussion today about the Opel project involving Magna and Sberbank,” Medvedev said. “There are still some unresolved issues, but we are looking at this project with interest and optimism and we will try to move ahead with its realization.”

      Those “unresolved issues” have thrown into doubt a preliminary deal reached at the end of May.

      Under that deal, Canadian car-parts maker Magna along with Russian truckmaker GAZ and Russian bank Sberbank were to acquire more than 50 percent in Opel.

      The German government, keen to safeguard jobs, agreed to provide a $2.1 billion bridge loan.

      However, since then, talks have stalled.

      Opel’s parent company General Motors has received interest from two other suitors — China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Company and RHJ International, a Belgium-based investment group.

      RHJ even said this week that its own negotiations with GM were “at an advanced stage.”

      Talks are believed to have hit snags partly because Magna wants to control the distribution of GM’s Chevrolet brand in Russia.

      Mark Bursa, a British auto industry analyst, says another reason is that GM is now in a stronger position.

      “Since the decision was taken to sell off the European operations the company’s been into Chapter 11 [bankruptcy protection,] come out of Chapter 11, it’s emerged quite a strong company, it has shifted a lot of debt off its balance sheet, and secretly the [CEO] Fritz Henderson perhaps realizes he doesn’t actually want to sell GM Europe Opel Vauxhall,” Bursa said. “There’s a feeling in GM they might have been forced into doing something for political reasons at the end of last year and now the game has changed.”

      The German government has so far favored Magna, and it has put pressure on GM by saying it could withdraw financial aid for the deal if GM chooses another suitor.

      Merkel today repeated her support for the Magna deal, saying it “offered Opel a chance.”

      But like Medvedev, she said some issues still needed to be resolved.

      http://www.rferl.org/content/Russian_German_Leaders_Meet_For_Economic_Talks/1778440.html

  7. Dave, I agree with you entirely that this is a good report, but unfortunately the UK is a very long way from being “Back in Curchill mode” if this is anything to go by:

    Labour ministers plan reputation trashing of Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt
    Labour ministers are threatening to launch a concerted effort to tarnish the reputation of British Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt.

    The threat came after it emerged that Sir Richard is planning to write a potentially explosive book about defence issues after he steps down next month.

    Relations between the Chief of the General Staff and the Government hit a new low after senior Labour sources warned the general will be “fair game” for political attacks when he leaves his post at the end of August.

    Sir Richard has publicly called for more troops and helicopters in Afghanistan, piling pressure on Gordon Brown over his support for the Armed Forces.

    Visiting Afghanistan this week, he again called for more “boots on the ground” and revealed he had been forced to borrow a US helicopter because no British aircraft were available.

    His words infuriated ministers, and after Sir Richard’s retirement on August 28, some Labour MPs plan to raise questions about the general’s role in recent decisions on defence policy.

    One minister said: “Once he’s gone, we can have a go at him. He can write his book and talk all he wants, but he’ll be fair game then.”

    In retirement, Sir Richard is likely to remain a thorn in Labour’s side.

    As well as writing a book about defence issues, he will be chairman of the Royal United Services Institute, a military think-tank, giving him a regular platform to comment on the subject.

    The Prime Minister has faced repeated criticism for failing to give the armed forces the proper resources in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Appearing before a committee of MPs yesterday, Mr Brown repeatedly ducked questions about his decision to veto Sir Richard’s request for almost 2,000 extra troops for Afghanistan.

    Mr Brown also faced criticism from the Commons Defence Committee, which warned that the shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan is limiting commanders’ options and increasing the risk to British troops.

    A total of 184 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001. As head of the Army since 2006, Sir Richard has repeatedly questioned Labour’s support for defence.

    Sir Richard is understood to be thinking of writing about military strategy and the future of Britain’s defence capabilities when he retires. Friends say he will not shy away from passing judgement on the Government’s treatment of the Armed Forces.

    ”Richard will do his duty and carry out his responsibilities to the Army and the country whether he is in uniform or not,” said a friend. “He does not go out to be political or seek conflict with ministers, but he takes his responsibilities extremely seriously and he will say anything he feels he has to say about the situation facing the Armed Forces.”

    A Labour source accused the general of “building up his own reputation at the expense of the Army” and added: “The man’s a hypocrite. He’s sat in these meetings and approved these things, and then he comes out in public and complains about them.”

    As an example, the source cited the use of Snatch Landrovers in Afghanistan.

    Described as “mobile coffins” by some officers after several fatal attacks on troops using them, Sir Richard has defended their use as an operational necessity.

    General Sir Mike Jackson, the previous Army chief, in 2007 used his autobiography to launch a strong attack on the Ministry of Defence under Labour, accusing it of putting bureaucracy before the welfare of service personnel.

    A source close to Sir Richard said that he is considering a book about defence issues rather than a conventional autobiography. “He has it in mind at some point to write something in the future but I would not describe them as memoirs,” the source said.

    Whatever form the book takes, Sir Richard’s plain speaking about defence is likely to make it controversial. The general’s son Bertie, himself a former Army officer, is said to have suggested that his book should be called The Bald Truth, a joke about his father’s appearance and outspokenness.

    Reports of Labour MPs’ attacks on Sir Richard have caused anger in military circles, where some believe the general is the victim of a smear campaign.

    One former service chief told The Telegraph last night: “If Labour people are lashing back at him, it must be out of the guilt they feel over the way their Government has treated the Armed Forces.”

    Messages left on the Army Rumour Service website used by many service personnel yesterday reflected military anger about Labour’s treatment of Sir Richard.

    One user said: “The spin and smears are getting personal — looks like he’s hitting them where it hurts with the truth.”

    General Sir David Richards, who will take over as Army chief next month, is said to be concerned about some of Sir Richard’s remarks and concerned that the row could sour relations between the military and the Government.

    Downing Street is wary of a confrontation with Sir Richard. As a concession to the general, the Prime Minister has ruled that a “temporary” deployment of 800 troops in Afghanistan will now be made permanent.

    Mr Brown’s spokesman said: “It is right that Richard Dannatt is able to talk about the issues that are affecting the Armed Forces at the moment.”

    And a source close to Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, also insisted that personal relations between Mr Ainsworth and the general were good.

    The two men sat together yesterday at the funeral in London of Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe of the Welsh Guards, who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month by a roadside bomb.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/5848164/Labour-ministers-plan-reputation-trashing-of-Army-chief-General-Sir-Richard-Dannatt.html

  8. Unfortunately, this open forum allows people to wander massively off subject, but it is worthwhile clicking on the link and actually reading at least some of the original report.

    Notice that it is a very serious document written by a cross-party committee, not people of any particular political persuasion and using a large amount of high quality evidence.

    The conclusions are quite dramatic only because Russia’s aggressive foreign policy posture is dramatic. It should be essential reading for all would-be Russophile decision makers across Europe and America.

    • It should be, but it won’t.

      German and French appeasers will still grovel to Russia, and Italy will still suck up.

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