Putins Teaches World how to Lose Friends and Alienate People

The Times of London reports:

Vladimir Putin’s handling of the gas row is folly. He has found an efficient way of converting Russia’s supposed zone of influence into a zone of countries that mistrust or loathe Russia, and are urgently looking for ways to reduce their dependence on it. If Russia has alienated even Bulgaria, its staunchest supporter within the European Union – but this week its bitter critic – then it really has problems.

The basic judgment in the row has remained the same from the start. Russia and Ukraine are both wrong, but Russia is more so. “It is not our problem. It is the problem of the transit country and they must solve it,” the Russian Prime Minister told the leaders of Slovakia, Bulgaria and Moldova, countries badly hit by the gas stoppages and suffering particularly cold winters.

“In my view, European officials could do more to put pressure on the transit country to ensure European interests,” Mr Putin said earlier at his residence outside Moscow.

Ukraine’s leaders have handled the talks badly, so lost in clinging on to their own political seesaw that they did not realise that the three-year-old row was about to ignite again.

And they have tried to have it both ways, wanting independence from Russia but not wanting to pay the market price for gas. They have failed to try to compensate by renegotiating transit fees. They have made a mess and a vulnerability out of a strong position, as the country that carries the pipes between one of the world’s largest suppliers and its main customers.

But Russia has been worse, in its peremptory demand for a more than doubling of gas prices to Ukraine, which no Ukrainian leader could accept and survive. The result is that countries that saw themselves as Russia’s allies, or at least its respectful customers, are now furious.

The Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country had 11 days of gas reserves left. “After 12 days, we will be obliged to resort to measures never seen in our history,” he said.

Sergei Stanishev, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria – where temperatures fell to minus 21 C (-6F) this week – told Mr Putin: “The biggest risk for both Russia and Ukraine is the issue of trust. The dispute has been running for a few years but it should not turn third countries into hostages.” It’s not quite like throwing shoes at President Bush but given, the subservience Mr Putin expects from the former Soviet bloc, it comes close.

The Bulgarian Government may impose more gas rationing, according to reports yesterday, despite riots by hundreds of protesters that gripped Sofia yesterday. Protesters are angry at the gas cuts this week, which have left parts of the country without heating, as well as widespread corruption, which led the EU to suspend aid earlier this year. Bulgaria asked the EU this week for help in finding new gas supplies other than Russia. Given that Bulgaria has spent the past few years alarming the EU by courting gas links with Russia, this is an about-turn.

Mr Putin may talk of selling more gas eastwards, not west, but he has overplayed a weak hand. Energy prices have fallen below the level at which his Government’s budget is balanced. President Medvedev said that Gazprom, the state gas giant, had lost $1.1 billion from the fall in exports to Europe because of the dispute. “Our country cannot lose such money,” he said on state television.

But in warning Ukraine that “the time for presents is over”, he illustrates the Russian mistake. More efficiently than the EU or Nato have managed, he has reminded Ukraine, and all other former members of the Soviet bloc, why it should look west, not east, for its friends.

12 responses to “Putins Teaches World how to Lose Friends and Alienate People

  1. And his fascist regimes support of the criminal regimes of South Ossetia and Abkhazia continues to create enemies in Georgia.

    Today at approximately 10am local time in the Georgian village of Knolevi, a Georgian police officer was killed by sniper fire from Russian occupied territory. He is the 11th Georgian policeman to be killed by Russian/Abkhazian/Ossetian gunfire since the so called ceasefire in August.

    So much for Russian Peacekeeprs, they should be better branded “Peicekeepers”.

    As usual the Russians continue to think that they have the right to oppress neigboring states, and kill their citizens with impunity.

    I wonder what lame excuse the Russophiles will come up with this time.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Georgian_Police_Officer_Shot_Dead_Near_South_Ossetia/1370786.html

  2. Typing too fast again,

    Russian forces in Georgia are PIECEKEEPERS not PEACEKEEPERS.

  3. “And his fascist regimes support of the criminal regimes of South Ossetia and Abkhazia continues to create enemies in Georgia.”

    Just like in Kosovo. You should watch the documentary Children: Kosovo 2000. You strike me as more than willing to cheer racist regimes like Georgia and their oppression of the Ossetian and Abkhazian people, simply because Georgia is pro-western. The exact same position those like you took when applauding the white supremacist regime of South Africa, and their oppression of the black population. So a police officer was killed, so what?

    “As usual the Russians continue to think that they have the right to oppress neigboring states, and kill their citizens with impunity.”

    So it was ok for the Georgian Army to bomb civilians in South Ossetia because they don’t want to be part of Georgia? Besides, American patrios think that America has the right to drop bombs anywhere for any reason, thus killing civilians. Before you reply, take note of something: I do NOT defend Russia’s action in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, or Georgia. I’m merely pointing out that you seem tollerate/support ethnic cleansing regimes who dance to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner.

  4. TB, you say “I do NOT defend Russia’s action in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, or Georgia”, but your sure as hell spout enough Kremlin propaganda.

    TB, maybe you should do some more research.

    Was it alright for the separatists (with Russian military assistance) to ethnicly cleanse the MAJORITY Georgian population & the pro Georgian Abkhaz & Ossetian populations from all of Abkhazia & parts of South Ossetia in the early 90’s? This is historical fact. Particularly note what is called the “Massacre of Sukhumi” when the Russian backed separatists took control of Sukhumi on September 27th 1993.

    Please note that the Georgian government controlled villages that were ethnically cleansed by Russia & South Ossetia in the August war, that were to the NORTH of Tskhinvali, were ethnically mixed, containing both ethnic Georgian & Ossetians (Villages in the separatist controlled areas had been ethnically cleansed of Georgians & other ethnic groups in 1992-93). All of these people have been evicted from their homes by the separatists, many (including pro Georgian Ossetians) have been raped or mudered.
    In addition please note that the fighting in and around South Ossetia actually began on the 1st of August when South Ossetian separatists broke the ceasefire with a roadside bombing that killed 6 Georgian policemen, followed by artillery strikes on Georgian government controlled villages. The separatists were shelling Georgian villages for 6 days before the Georgians retalliated in force.

    As for your assinine implication that the Georgian government supports ethnic cleansing, you are wrong again, please note that there are more ethnic Ossetians living in Tbilisi than there are in all of South Ossetia, and that their sons served alongside their Georgian neighbors sons during the fighting. Georgia is a multi ethnic state, and it guarantees the languages and culture of all its ethnic minorities, both in public & private life.
    There are even schools which cater to Russian sensibilities. Note that in schools in the area of South Ossetia that was government controlled it was cumpulsory for Georgian students to learn Ossetian to ensure cultural understanding. The Georgians have no interest in oppressing the Abkhaz & Ossetians, they just want their country in one piece. Georgians were living in the area known as South Ossetia (prior to the Soviet Union it was known as Samurchubalo) for thousands of years before the Ossetians came south of the mountains, and Abkhazia was part of Georgia for over 3000 years. Both provinces are (or were prior to Russian ethnic cleansing) patchworks of different ethnic villages, many of them mixed. This ethnic patchwork has now been ripped apart by Russian sponsored war crimes.

    It is also interesting to note that the Russian “liberators” are now evicting Abkhaz from their homes in the Gali district of Abkhazia, and replacing them with Cossack families. Typical Russian behaviour.

    Your poorly informed opinions really do show up the lack of education of the russophile.

    By the way, I am from New Zealand, and was an anti-apartheid demonstrator as a student in the 80’s. Maybe you should think before you open your mouth and show your brain is not engaged TB.
    I do not support ethnic cleansing of any sort.
    As far as I am concerned Tudjman (Croatian president) should have been in the Hague with Milosovich. He did not commit as many crimes as the Serbs, but that is not the point.

    So for your rediculous comments that I supported South African apartheid, or ethnic cleansing by any country, all I can say is that AS USUAL, you are wrong.

    By the way, your comment “So a police officer was killed, so what?” shows your moral bankruptcy. The loss of any life is a shame, and he was killed in an unprovoked attack by an Ossetian (or quite possibly a Russian) sniper. He may have left behind a family. If it was a Russian or Ossetian policeman killed by a Georgian sniper, I can just imagine your reaction. It was also a (repeated) violation of the ceasefire to which the Russian government is a signatory.

  5. TB, I seriously suggest you read a book called “Conflict in the Caucasus – Georgia, Abkhazia, & the Russian Shadow” by Svetlana Chervonnia, who was senior researcher with the Moscow institute of ethnography.
    She outlines the ethnic history of Abkhazia from the bronze age up to the war of the early 90’s (Georgians & Abkhazians have BOTH lived in Abkhazia for ALL of recorded history & are BOTH native to the area), and was an eye witness to the war. She was sent by the Russian government to write a pro Abkhaz view, but because of what she saw ended up writing a pro Georgian one instead. I strenuously suggest you and anyone else who wants to understand the conflicts in the region should read this book.

  6. One other thing TB, the Abkhazian autonomous regions system of government under the USSR was definitely Apartheid, in that Abkhaz had a guaranteed majority of seats in the state comittee while being only 18% of the population of the province. Yes thats right, Abkhaz (who should actually be called Apsu) were only 18%, while the largest ethnic group was Georgians.

  7. Tower Bolshevik Jerkoff,

    America does not condone ethnic cleansing. Take a look you moron. We won in Iraq. 22 million people are now free from a Dictator. Too bad Russia could not do the same in Chechnya. What a disaster. Quit dissing the USA, we are OK.

  8. Bolshevik wrote:

    Before you reply, take note of something

    what makes you think that your irrational gibberish deserves a reply?

  9. Well said Kolchak & Felix

  10. Tower Bolshevik

    For Andrew:

    Where do I spout Kremlin propaganda? I never said it was ok for Russian backed separatists to cleanse Georgian civilians? I’ve posted enough on this board criticizing the forces people like YOU called “democrats” who unleashed these type of ethnic conflicts during the 1990’s. I don’t doubt what you say about the separatists in true, but if you expect me to believe that Georgia was sweet and innocent as you claim, you’ve got another thing coming. Georgia has practiced its own brand of ethnic cleansing since it broke from the USSR under the policy “Georgia For Georgians” initiated by Zviad Gamsakhuridia in the early 1990’s that erupted into the civil war. Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia which struck many civilian targets in the capital was nothing more than an attpet to seize control over ethnic regions that did not want to be part of Georgia. So there were pro-Georgian Ossetians. So what? There were pro-Serbian Albanians in the Kosovo War.

    The Georgian government is a chauvinistic and nationalist regime as it has been since it broke from the USSR, just as much as Russia. You’re statement that the Georgian government supports multi-cultural harmony soley on the grounds of their programs is completely false. Russia too has many nations living in it, as it always has. Does that mean Russia is now suddenly so multi-cultural? It does not. I have no doubt it is in the interest of the average Georgian or the average Russian not to oppress another. But I’m talking their governments here. Putin wants Chechnya for its resources, notably oil. Saakashvili wants both regions out of no necessity than for oil profits as well. I’ve watched footages of these Georgian “democrats” you speak of in such angelic terms as early as 1989 in inter-ethnic rivalry. And after the wars, with one nationalist leader after another in Tbilisi, don’t expect me to believe Georgia’s minorities are living any kind of paradise. During the August war not once Georgia’s leaders make any comment on any concerns for the South Ossetian population when they attacked, or even apologize for bombing the Tskhinvali hospital. The ethnic patchwork was ripped apart by their own nationalist leaders, as so in Russia, and throughout the former USSR. Before the wars, no difference.

    Your whole analysis is based entirely on your anti-Russian prejudices, and simply an attempt to whitewash the Georgian leaders o any wrong doing. And if you were an anti-apartheid activist as you claim, then you of all people should be able to look behind the angelic facades of western backed governments. Especially if you look at Tudjman in Croatia as a war criminal equal to Milosevic.

    Please read carefully next time. I didn’t say you supported South Africa’s Apartheid. I was drawing a comparison of how western patriots today whine about “ethnic cleansing”, painting their allies as angelic even if they’re gulty; when they’ve supported and/or continue to support those who do.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t care about the loss of one police officer. So he had a family. What cop doesn’t? I wouldn’t care if he was Russian or Ossetian. Again, just because I don’t fall in line with this absurd “poor little Georgia” senario doesn’t make me pro-Russian. I did not defend Russia’s actions any more than I defended Georgia’s. But I think you’re too narrow minded to tell the difference.

    Thanks for the book recomendation. Unfortunately however, I distance myself from one-sided views, especially the inter-ethnic conflicts that erupted in Eastern Europe. I’d prefer authors who remain neutral, such as Misha Glenny for example.

    Lastly, you’re use of the word “Apartheid” to the USSR shows what little credibility you have. In South Africa’s Apartheid whites had 100% control on the government, while blacks had no say. An absurd comparison to say the least.

  11. Tower Bolshevik

    For Kolchak:

    America suppored ethnic cleansing regimes in Guatemala under Gen. Efrian Rios Montt who murdered countless Mayas. Then there was Gen. Mohamed Suharto in Indonesia and his invasion of East Timor. Franjo Tudjman in Croatia, and Apartheid in South Africa. You’re a person who thinks Sarah Palin has the IQ of Plato, so just shut up.

    For Felix:

    Because you replied;)

  12. TB, as usual you make a fool of yourself.

    The fact is that the Georgian government does have programs to protect the languages and cultures of ethnic minorities. It is much better from a survival point of view to be an ethnic Russian in Tbilisi than an ethnic Georgian (or Turkoman, or Khazak or any other minority you care to mention) in Moscow.
    They don’t have government approved skinheads murdering ethnic minorities in Tbilisi. That is a Russian speciality. If they did not have a committment to multiculturalism why would they have the programs in education? Meanwhile have a look at Russia’s “Russification” program for details of a racist system.

    The Georgian government is by no means perfect, but it is vastly preferable to the truly criminal regime in Moscow, and the thuggish little mafia regimes of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdenister, and various other Russian puppet states.

    Georgia has every right under international law to restore order within its internationally recognised territory. The Russian branch of HRW and Memorial have comprehensively debunked the Russian claims of “crimes” by Georgian soldiers against civillians (with the exception of the use of Grad rockets)and have criticised the Russian claims of atrocities .

    Furthermore they have condemned Russian actions in supporting & instigating massive crimes against humanity in the form of ethnic cleansing, rape, and murder by Russian & Pro Russian forces. Russia has spent over a century formenting trouble in the caucasus and other areas of its dominons current and former.
    I am not “prejudiced” against Russia, I condemn them for their actions.
    Russia has comitted ethnic cleansing and genocide in many areas of the former USSR both during the soviet period and after it.

    The destruction of the ethnic patchwork of Georgia was not the result of Georgian nationalists, but of deliberate Russian agression from the 18th century right through to the current day.

    In regard to the “people who unleashed ethnic conflicts” in the Caucasus it was RUSSIA that unleashed ethnic conflicts. You definitely do spout kremlin propaganda.

    Gamsakurdia was a Mingrelian, his comment about Georgia for Georgians was anti-moscow, but taken in the context in which it was meant, it was “Georgia for those who were born here” however, pro Soviet leaders such as Ardzinba were able to use the naievity and incompetence of Gamsakhurdia to instigate massive ethnic cleansing against non Apsu parts of the Abkhazian population. Apsu (Generally referred to (incorrectly) as Abkhaz) were only 18% of the population of the provice, but as part of Communist “divide & rule” tactics were given control of the administration of the whole province to the detriment of the largest ethnic group the Georgians. Sounds like apartheid to me. Apartheid was a gradual process of the removal of majority rights (Blacks had the vote in “British” states of South Africa such as Cape Province prior to the Afrikaners gaining control) , it did not just suddenly appear overnight.

    Maybe if you visit Georgia, you might have some idea of the ethnic relations in the country. I can only think that you have been watching the Goebbels style propaganda on RTV1 & Russia today.

    As for distancing yourself from “one sided views” well unfortunately that means you have to close your mind to eye witnesses of events.
    You may not like what they have to say, but they were there. Seeing the horror of Soviet/Russian actions tends to cause you to be one sided.

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