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.
He said: “The night-time execution-style bombardment of Tskhinval by the Georgian troops resulted in the deaths of hundreds of our civilians.” Only hundreds, Mr. Medvedev? But a few weeks ago, your generals put the number at 2,000. Apparently, the “president” felt no need to mention that. It would make it rather troublesome, of course, to explain why we should believe his new number. And, in fact, Medvedev is lying, because his own government said just the day before that the number of civilian fatalities in Tskhinval was 133. That’s not “hundreds” even by neo-Soviet math.
He kept right on lying. He stated: “Among the dead were the Russian peacekeepers.” But in fact, Russia’s “peacekeepers” have never taken any action against the Ossetian or Abkhazian rebels to protect Georgia from their attacks. All Russian action has been directed at protecting the rebels, making them parties to the conflict, as Jamestown Foundation scholar Vladimir Socor has aptly concluded. What’s more, no other nation in the world recognizes the Russian forces in the breakaway region as “peacekeepers.”
He lied some more. He claimed: “The Georgian leadership, in violation of the UN Charter and their obligations under international agreements and contrary to the voice of reason, unleashed an armed conflict victimizing innocent civilians.” That is utterly false. No U.N. authority has concluded that Georgia violated any provision of the Charter or any applicable international agreement.
He lied without shame: “The most inhuman way was chosen to achieve the objective – annexing South Ossetia trough the annihilation of a whole people. Saakashvili opted for genocide to accomplish his political objectives.” 133 were killed in the assault. Wiping out a whole people? It seems not, Mr. Medvedev. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. A nation that has wiped out more than 20 million of its own citizens in concentration camps ought to be more careful in using a word like “genocide.”
Medvedev lied, over and over, when he claimed Russia would accept a cease fire and withdraw. His generals lied brazenly during the conflict, and now he is lying even more brazenly in the aftermath. Russia has alienated the entire world by acting unilaterally, behaving in exactly the manner it attacked savagely when it was the U.S. which was doing it. The Kremlin has betrayed itself as a pack of lying hypocrites bent on imperlialistic domination of small defenseless countries, and it is no longer possible to trust the words Russia’s leaders speak. As Sam Greene of the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow Center writes:
We have learned how little has changed in Russia with the arrival of the country’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev. Former president Vladimir Putin remains in charge, now as prime minister. But the finer touch that many in the West had expected from Medvedev has not come to light. As much abroad as at home, the Kremlin continues to favor a ham fist in an iron glove, backed up by implausible propaganda and no sign of domestic or international accountability.
Russia has left the fold of civilized nations and returned to the wilds of barbarism which destroyed the USSR utterly. And it has betrayed great weakness. As Greene notes:
We learned the weakness of Russia’s non-military foreign policy tools. The power of Russia’s big stick is evident, but Moscow has forgotten the art of speaking softly. In this, of course, they resemble their Western–particularly their American–counterparts, who have preferred military force to robust diplomacy in recent years. But while new leadership in Washington may rely on decades of good relations with allies to rebuild burnt bridges, Moscow’s legacy is far less favorable.
We learn, and we mourn for Russia. As Daniel Fried, the top U.S. diplomat on Russia, has stated: “There is a Russia narrative that ‘we were weak in the ’90s, but now we are back and we are not going to take it anymore.’ But being angry and seeking revanchist victory is not the sign of a strong nation. It is the sign of a weak one.” George Will calls Russia “a Third World nation with First World missiles” that is “rampant” — a word usually reserved for disease or corruption.
As is so often the case, Russia tries to show strength and conveys only weakness — and the same was true in the sham transaction that made Medvedev “president.” The Russians are fooling nobody but themselves.
Everything is okay if the Russians do it, but if someone else does it, it’s wrong.
Why the rest of the world still chokes on this illogic is beyond me.
There is a different standard for ‘truth’ in Russia. Put more simply, within Russian culture lying is more acceptable – for largely obvious historic reasons – in order to get what you want / need.
We’re seeing this played out: we keep taking Russia at its word (“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy. Blah, blah”) and then being surprised when we find out they are not speaking with the same yardstick of honesty.
The other side to this is that the lies mean less: when someone lies more often the value of each lie decreases. Changes in position are very easy.
What does this mean? Easy. Judge by actions not words; the UK learned this after Litvinenko and has been much more hardline ever since. Germany also seems to now have found the same lesson. Poland, the Baltics and Georgia all knew it already. The rest of the world knew, but chose to forget for a while: from now on it is time for some more hard headedness from the politicians.