It’s not surprising that Russians are motivated to acts of craven, violent desperation as they see tiny Georgia humiliate them before world.
Last week, even as the proud and defiant words of Georgia’s president were appearing in the Washington Post, the IMF announced that it was increasing economic support to the Georgian government by more than 50%. Meanwhile, Russia is saddled with the massive economic burden of maintaining the impoverished Ossetia and Abkahazia regions, while Georgia is relieved of it, even as the Russian economy enters its worst recession in modern history. And that’s to say nothing of the nearly $30 billion in costs and losses Russia incurred from the war itself — money Russia’s sick population, which does not rank in the top 150 nations of the world for lifespan, desperately needed for social services.
How can Russia respond? Only with truly pathetic efforts to crash websites through cyberterrorism.
What did Russia gain from the August war? It already had nearly total control over Ossetia and Abkhazia with a massive military presence. Russia could have gained only two things by its brazen military assault: (1) Worldwide recognition of the two enclaves as independent or as part of Russia and (2) regime change in Tbilisi. Russia achieved neither of these goals, and instead it martyred Saakashvili, making him far more viable both at home and abroad. What’s more, Russia’s actions exposed the Russian military’s crude backwardness as it forced officers to communicate on personal cell phones and shot down its own aircraft. And most important, seeing Russian tanks rolling into a tiny neighbor reminded the whole of Europe, especially Eastern Europe, just how dangerous Russia really is. The region recoiled in horor, and jump-started the feared Nabucco pipeline that aims to wean Europe off Russian gas.
There’s simply no way that things could have gone any worse for Russia during the course of this war. Seeing Russians swaggering with arrogance at their ability to defeat a country as tiny and powerless as Georgia makes Russians look weak and pathetic, not strong and intimidating. The world saw at last that Russia has no clothes.