The Voice of America reports that the U.S. is spitting in Vladimir Putin’s eye. Putin sends creaking battle cruisers to Cuba, and Washington sends Condi Rice to ink a pact with Georgia:
The United States and Georgia Friday signed a bilateral charter on strategic partnership aimed at increasing cooperation in defense, trade, energy and other areas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the deal should advance Georgia’s bid for membership in NATO and other western structures.
State Department officials stress that the charter is a not a mutual defense treaty, but they say it is a highly-visible sign of American support for the Caucuses state in the aftermath of its conflict with Russia last August.
The agreement provides a road map for cooperation between the two countries across the spectrum of bilateral relations, including U.S. assistance to Georgia’s military to help that country qualify for NATO membership.
Russia invaded Georgia in August after the Tbilisi government tried to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force. The conflict left Russian troops in South Ossetia and another breakaway area, Abkhazia, and Moscow later recognized the nominal independence of both.
But at the charter signing ceremony with Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, Secretary of State Rice reaffirmed U.S. support for the country’s territorial integrity.
“The United States supports, and will always support Georgia’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and its integration into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic,” she said. “The pace of Georgia’s integration with NATO should depend on the desires of Georgians themselves, and on Georgia’s ability to meet NATO standards.”
NATO leaders endorsed eventual membership for Georgia and Ukraine at their Bucharest summit last year, but a U.S.-led effort to offer them a formal membership action plan was rebuffed by alliance members concerned about Moscow’s reaction.
After the Russia-Georgia conflict, NATO foreign ministers again endorsed membership for the two countries in principle, but through existing structures. In his remarks at the ceremony, Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze said he hopes the charter with the United States will be one such vehicle.
“This is something the Georgian nation has been aspiring to, and this is a stepping-stone which will bring Georgia to Euro-Atlantic structures, to membership within NATO and to return to the family of western and civilized nations,” he said. “We’re very proud that we lived to see this day, and we would like to stress that we appreciate what the United States has been doing for us, and understand that this document of our strategic partnership brings not only rights, but also obligations for Georgia to be a responsible ally, to be a democratic open and liberal society.”
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Bryza, the Bush administration’s point-man for Caucuses affairs, said the United States will continue working diplomatically against any further recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhzia.
Bryza said only Nicaragua and the Palestinian radical group Hamas had followed Russia’s lead in accepting the two area’s self-proclaimed independence and said he hoped Moscow itself will eventually realize it made a mistake.
“The perspective is that we have to keep on fighting diplomatically through the Geneva process, more broadly in all of our interactions with Russia to make clear that it’s violation of its own policy of supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity, was a bad decision,” he said.
Bryza suggested that over time, a combination of economic and democratic strides by Georgia, and political outreach to the two breakaway areas, might persuade them to accept the authority of the Tbilisi government.
At least the US actually stands by its friends.
Georgians & Ukrainians (and eastern europe for that matter) have taken note that the only real protection against Russia comes from the USA.
Western Europe on the other hand has shown itself to be a very “soft power” indeed.
The only thing that Russians understand or respect is strength, if you try to play nice with them they only see it as weakness.
Unfortunately Russians are incapable of understanding that there can be mutually beneficial relationships between states.
“Caucuses state” please change to “Caucasus state”. Great article, otherwise, and thanks for doing a great job!
‘Only real protection against Russia comes from the USA’? I’m pretty sure the 5-day war disproved that thesis.
Anyway, as I said before, such actions only strengthen Putin’s control, as everyone in Russia already know that Georgia is the US’s stooge (yes, I’d know, I’ve spoken to my relatives from Russia).
This administration can keep supporting Georgia all it wants, but the US’s influence is wilting. Old Europe knows that peace with Russia isn’t particularly difficult – what has it asked for recently, really? It asked to keep nuclear parity with the United States by not posting missiles in Poland, and it asked not to move the border for war between Russia and NATO closer to its borders. That’s it. Thankfully, that bloc has enough influence over the region to block such attempts.
Eventually, an American president will come (Obama, I hope) who’ll realize that Georgia and Ukraine have absolutely nothing to do with the security of the United States and NATO – in fact, considering the large pro-Russian population in Ukraine, putting it into NATO would almost guarantee complete Russian infiltration into whatever Ukraine gets from NATO, such as defense/offense plans, etc. If Pro-Russian presidents are put in Georgia and the Ukraine, the whole area will benefit – look what the NATO-lookers have done so far: Cause a gas crisis, start a war. Both are falling economically, Ukraine on the verge of becoming a failed state.
Hopefully, that’ll allow some true cooperation between Russia and the US.
You know, Putin wasn’t always anti-American – before 2004, he was considered the Americanizer of Russia. He kept giving and giving, allowing the US to post bases in Uzbekistan, NATO to fly over Russia to Afghanistan, allowing expansion of NATO despite agreements to the contrary. However, I’ll tell you what he noticed: He noticed that in all eight seperatist conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the US has taken a stance independent of supporting the right of the people to secede or supporting territorial integrity – Putin noticed that in all eight cases, the US took the stance against Russia. This approach to Russia was everywhere; the 5-day War, the recognition of Kosovo, the spread of NATO, the attempts to create alternate pipelines – everything made to weaken Russian influence in the region. Then, presumably, Putin got mad and made his Munich conference in 2004, after which he’s been notably more frosty.
Russia invaded Georgia in August [falsely claiming that] the Tbilisi government tried to retake [its own sovereign territory, ] the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force.
Well said Sebaneau.
As for the idiotic comments from the other chap.
“If Pro-Russian presidents are put in Georgia and the Ukraine, the whole area will benefit”
You must be joking. The only thing pro-russian governments will bring is increased opression & poverty as
1. You would need about half a million Russian bayonets to keep a pro Russian leader in power for more than 5 minutes in Georgia if you did not want to see him hanging from a lamp post.
There is no way a pro Russian leader would ever be elected democratically.
People in the (non Russian) former soviet republics hate Russia and the Russians with a passion and for good reason. In the case of Georgia & Ukraine they have (particularly Georgia) suffered hundereds of years of repression both political and cultural, and in the case of Georgia, Russian sponsored (and comitted) ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia & South Ossetia. Not to mention Russia creating the last little war and then chopping bits of Georgia along with the fine Russian tradition of more ethnic cleansing & crimes against humanity (please note that even Russian human rights organisations lay the blame for the war and war crimes right at the kremlins door)
2. The poverty will come from the fact that almost all direct foriegn investment will disappear the moment these countries have pro Russian leaders “installed”, due to the inevitable corruption & nepotism that Russian governance brings with it.
So please tell me, you simpleton, how Georgia & Ukraine could possibly benefit?
As for the US taking a position opposite to Russia during separatist conflicts in former Soviet space. Well in each and every case it was morally right to do so.
Russia was and is the main supporter of regimes that practice ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. For example Russia supports the criminal regimes of Abkhazia (against Georgians, Pontic Greeks, & Turkomen), South Ossetia (against Georgians), Transdenister (against Moldovians), Crimean Russians (against Crimean Tartars), North Ossetia (against Ingush), Nagorno Karabakh (against Azeri’s), Serbia (against Bosnians, Croats, Slovenians, & Albanians). Not to mention Russia’s own genocidal campaigns in Ingushetia, Chechnya & Daghestan.
Outside the former soviet union Russia supports
Ethnic cleansing & genocide in Sudan, Zimbabwe & Burma, providing vital diplomatic protection at the UN to those regimes. Russia supports the opressive Iranian regime, Russia supports groups such as Hamas & Hezbollah. In short, if there is a nasty opressive regime anywhere in the world, you can pretty much guarantee it has Russian support.
It is also interesting to note that Russia stopped advancing its troops into Georgia the moment the 1st US navy warship sailed into Batumi (with enough firepower to wipe out the Black Sea Fleet by itself I might add).
If anything, US influence is growing again. With the election of Obama, and Russia (and Putin) continuing to act like the school bully, people are making a choice, and its NOT Russia.
Hell, Putin can’t even get China (who were furious at him supporting separatists) to support his effective annexation of Abkhazia & South Ossetia.
With the latest agreement, and US promises to rebuild the Georgian military, I think Russia might want to keep its hands off next time.
everyone in Russia “knows” whatever the KGB-TV tells them, and if Putin so decides, everyone in Russia “knows” the exact opposite the next day. Apparently, they told you on TV that Putin “allowed NATO expansion”, whereas anyone who was grown up at that time vividly remembers both Russia’s endless hysteria regarding the matter and how it was silently ignored. But of course, in Russia one has no need for memory: the TV will tell you everything you need to know in the country with unpredictable past.
“Russia invaded Georgia in August [falsely claiming that] the Tbilisi government tried to retake [its own sovereign territory, ] the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force.”
Agreed, it’s not technically correct. However, non-technically, South Ossetia was a Russian protectorate, it had the same rights to independence from Georgia as Georgia had from Russia, and Georgia did kill it’s own citizens, then, which would put Saakashvili on the same level as Saddam Hussein. For which you hanged him.
“You must be joking. The only thing pro-russian governments will bring is increased opression & poverty as” (+ reasons):
You’ll notice that Kazakhstan, Belarus and other pro-Russian or even neutral states are doing far better economically then Ukraine or Georgia are. There were no recent wars in the area. There are no ‘gas wars’. It’s peaceful. Don’t recite ancient history to me – Americans essentially killed off a continent of native Americans. Right NOW, everyone who’s going for NATO membership is far less peaceful then those who work with Russia.
“The poverty will come from the fact that almost all direct foriegn investment will disappear the moment these countries have pro Russian leaders “installed”, due to the inevitable corruption & nepotism that Russian governance brings with it.”
You must be aware of the extreme allegations of Ukrainian corruption and Georgian corruption being barely, barely below those of Russia itself. That’s not because of Russian influence.
“Russia was and is the main supporter of regimes that practice ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. ”
Err… those aren’t regimes that practice ethnic cleansing. Those are people who want independence. The US are guilty of the same crime: “Main supporter of a regime in Kosovo practicing ethnic cleansing and crimes against Serbians”.
“It is also interesting to note that Russia stopped advancing its troops into Georgia the moment the 1st US navy warship sailed into Batumi (with enough firepower to wipe out the Black Sea Fleet by itself I might add).”
Bull. It stopped advancing its troops into Georgia when Georgia’s military was effectively destroyed. Additionally, no US navy warship can wipe out a whole Russian fleet. While they’re rather weak, they’re still #2 in the world and packed with nice little flowery explosives.
“If anything, US influence is growing again. With the election of Obama, and Russia (and Putin) continuing to act like the school bully, people are making a choice, and its NOT Russia.
Hell, Putin can’t even get China (who were furious at him supporting separatists) to support his effective annexation of Abkhazia & South Ossetia.”
I don’t know how you can say influence is growing because a supposed liberal is in the White House. Until some of this influence is proven, you have no support for that statement.
“With the latest agreement, and US promises to rebuild the Georgian military, I think Russia might want to keep its hands off next time.”
The US built up Georgia’s military the first time around. I don’t think Russia’ll be scared of it being armed by a this time broke power when it destroyed the first military in five days.
“everyone in Russia “knows” whatever the KGB-TV tells them, and if Putin so decides, everyone in Russia “knows” the exact opposite the next day. ”
Really? How would you know? I’ve actually been there. People don’t blindly follow what the news says – in the major cities, at least, a large portion of the population has internet and follows stories, or knows someone who fills them in on it. Plus, the exact same thing can be said of any Western News organization. Everyone in the UK “knows” whatever the BBC-TV tells them, and if the PM so decides, everyone in the UK “knows” the exact opposite the next day. See? Utter bull. And as true as what you ignorantly spout. Visit Russia, meet with some people, then maybe your opinions would be worth something.
Well Андрей, you as usual show yourself to be a poorly informed serf to Putin.
Those regimes do practice ethnic cleansing. It has been confirmed by HRW, Memorial, the UN office for refugees and so on. Wanting independance is no excuse for ethnic cleansing against civillians. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, North Ossetia, Serbia, Sudan, Burma, and Russia are all guilty of crimes against humanity. You may as well (and probably do) claim that the holocaust never happened. You really are a moron. Ethnic cleansing was repeatedly comitted by Russian & pro Russian forces in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdenister, and all the others mentioned. By the way, Serbia lost control of Kosovo for the same reason it lost the rest of Yugoslavia, because it comitted genocide by ethnic cleansing and mass murder. The Kosovar albanians were the victims of Serbian crimes, not the other way around.
As usual you are misinformed (or deliberately stupid), as Transparency International rates Georgia & Ukraine both FAR LOWER for corruption than Russia (or central asia for that matter).
Georgia in particular has received praise for reforming the police and business culture, and while it still has work to do, at least it is getting on with it, whereas Russia has become even more corrupt than in Yeltsins day.
As for your comment that the USA had already built up the Georgian military, not true. They had previously only supplied LIMITED training in counter insurgency warfare to troops being sent to serve in IRAQ in order to enable them to act in concert with US troops. The overwhelming majority of the Georgian military was still trained and equipped in a Soviet manner. For example T-72, BMP-2, BTR-80, ZSU-23/4, RPG-16, Kalashnikovs, hell even the helmets were old soviet stock. So as has been said elsewhere, it was not a westernised military opponent in any sense of the word. Having said that, considering that it was outnumbered severely, and the Russians controlled the sky, they did not do too badly. Even managed to ambush and kill the Russian general in charge of the entire 58th Army and, with only 4000 men held off 45000 Russians around Tshkinvali for 3 days. Russia only won through weight of numbers against an opponent who had no advantage of superior equipment. If the Russian military was any good it should have been over on the first day.
Yes, one Aegis class destroyer could wipe out the ageing, inneficient and poorly equipped black sea fleet. Hell, the pride of the Russian navy had trouble with 3 ageing Soviet era Georgian gunboats. Also note that the Russians were violating the terms of the ceasefire prior to the arrival in the black sea of the US navy, but they sure stopped fast enough when the yanks turned up. Coincidence, I think not.
In addition, the number 2 navy in the world is actually Japan, followed by China, India, and probably the UK. Russian ships may be plentiful, but their 30+year old weapons systems and electronics make them little more than target practice for better equipped modern warships with well trained crews and effective electronic warefare systems.
Your comments about western media show your ignorance. People in the UK have a wide range of options & opinions to follow. BBC is only one amongst many, and even while government owned it still likes to stick the boot in to the politicians. Most TV stations in the west are privately owned, as are the newspapers. There is also little political interference, as the moment they tried it the journalists would be screaming about it all the way to the high court. You see there is a principle of “Freedom of the press” & “Freedom of speech” that your Russian types just don’t seem to understand.
People in the west are taught from a young age to question what they are being told, to think for themselves, and to try to understand the world. If the PM changed his mind within 24 hours most would consider him a fool.
Russia on the other hand has strict censorship, including charging those who criticise the ruling KGB clique with terrorist or treason offences, state controlled mass media that would make Goebbels proud, and no alternative information sources worth mentioning. The cult of personality surrounding Putin is no different to that of Lenin, Stalin, or Mao. He is the same sort of opressive power hungry type they were.
I have visited Russia, I have talked with Russians, and as a general rule you are a people that has taken enjoyment at opressing your neigbours, are violently racist towards ethnic minorities, and rather than trying to build good relationships with the states that have escaped your clutches, you dream of reforming your empire and driving prople like the Georgians, Ukranians, and the Baltics back into slavery.
you have yourself described your objections as “utter bull”, I have nothing to add.
What do I need to visit Russia for? If even you, who knows English (unlike most Russians), has access to Western media (unlike most Russians), and has been abroad (unlike most Russians) can actually write something as dumb as “Putin allowed NATO expansion” – what can one expect from an average Vanya who hardly ever leaves his village and gets all the information from KGB-TV?
Well said Sichovyk
“Wanting independance is no excuse for ethnic cleansing against civillians. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, North Ossetia, Serbia, Sudan, Burma, and Russia are all guilty of crimes against humanity.”
I don’t suppose your statement applies Kosovo, and the KLA’s treatment of the Serb and Gypsy populations of Kosovo. Like the torture and murder at the Lapusnik camp. In Yugoslavia ALL SIDES committed acts of genocide, not just the Serbs. You simply program yourself to absurdly thinking that pro-western states are the most democratic and human rights loving. The term “genocide” now is merely a slander an anti-western state, nothing more.
True, all sides comitted war crimes, but the Serbian crimes were much worse, and had been planned prior to the conflict, including the setting up of what were concentration camps in Bosina & Croatia.
As has been said previously, the Albanians were victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing, the pity is that some of them stooped to the same level in retaliation. Any of them that comitted crimes should be punished same as the Serbs, and several have been indicted to the Hague war crimes tribunal. As I said, it is the sheer scale of the crimes comitted by the Serbs that makes them the villains of the piece.
However none of this makes a difference to the argument that RUSSIA is the foremost supporter and instigator of crimes against humanity in the 20th and now sadly the 21st century, or to the fact that democracies are far less likely to support, condone, or commit similar actions.
As I have said before, Russia is the main instigator of discord in the former Soviet Union, it has committed crimes against humanity in Abkhazia & South Ossetia, Transdenister, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Daghestan, and supported & encouraged the same sort of crimes in Zimbabwe, Darfur, Burma and many other places. Russia is an autocracy that cares nothing for human rights, freedom of speech, democracy, minority rights, or any of the other norms of civilised societies.