FinRosForum translates former Kremlin insider Andrei Illarionov from the pages of Yezhedevny Zhurnal, listing the 13 conclusions he thinks should be drawn from Russia’s invasion of Georgia.
1. The war against Georgia was a brilliant provocation carefully planned and successfully carried out by the Russian leadership. The campaign was practically identical to the plan carried out in another theatre at another time — [Chechen warlord Shamil] Basaev’s attack into Dagestan and the beginning of the second Chechen war in 1999.
2. In the new situation that has taken shape following the war, Georgians may find a legitimate reason to recognise Georgia’s de facto loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
3. The military losses of Georgia are greater than those of Russia. At the same time, however, the financial, foreign policy, and moral losses of Russia are much more significant than those of Georgia.
4. The Russian leadership did not achieve its main goal — the ouster of [Georgian President] Mikhei Saakashvili, change of the political regime in Georgia, and Georgia’s rejection of membership in NATO. Rather, the opposite has happened.
5. The international community regards Russia as the aggressor that brought its forces into the territory of another member state of the United Nations. The international community regards Georgia as the victim of aggression.
6. Russia has found itself in almost total isolation in foreign policy terms. Only Cuba supported Russia’s intervention in Georgia. Neither Iran, nor Venezuela or Uzbekistan, not even Belarus said a word in Russia’s support.
7. The G8 has, in effect, become the G7. The series of foreign policy defeats of the Russian leadership, beginning with the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, and including the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, was now followed by yet another fiasco.
8. The Russian leadership succeeded in something that the rest of the world did not (want to) believe: The resurgence of fear of the “Russian bear”. This fear and — be it temporary — sense of powerlessness is something that the world will not forget for a long time.
9. Russians with no access to sources for news other than the official, found themselves in total isolation in terms of information. The degree of manipulation of public opinion, and the speed with which the society was brought to mass hysteria, are clear evidence of the regime’s “achievements,” and pose an undeniable and unprecedented danger to the Russian society.
10. The institutional catastrophe, about which I have had to speak about many times before, is happening before our very own eyes. Its main — albeit not the only — victim will be the Russian people.
11. The war helped reveal the true faces of some so-called liberals and democrats, who previously had condemned the “imperial syndrome,” but when it manifested itself, quickly caved in to the regime, calling for an attack on Tbilisi and for the reinforcement of Russia’s defence and law enforcement agencies.
12. The only political institution, members of which were capable of formulating differing opinions regarding the war (including those, with whom I do not agree in principle) and discussing them, was the National Assembly. In effect, the National Assembly proved — in a moment of crisis — that it is better able than any other institution to function as a protoparliament.
13. The war confirmed once more the validity of the most important principles of conduct of morally conscious Russian citizens in relation to the present regime: do not believe, do not fear, do not beg, and do not cooperate.