Note: This is the first issue of a daily digest of news, commentary, and policy institute documents related to the Georgia-Russia conflict, the response by the West, and the future for the countries, international organizations, and relationships involved. GMF’s aim is to give a succinct set of links that explore all sides of the conflict, from sources both local and international, including links and summaries to pieces in non-English languages. We hope you find this useful, and feedback is appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Herald Tribune, Andrew E. Kramer, 21 AUG 2008
Summary: “Despite a pledge by Moscow to withdraw its forces to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Friday, Russian troops still Showed not signs Thursday of relaxing their grip on critical Georgian roads and ports. U.S. President ‘Bush said the disputed border regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia”are part of Georgia, and the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity.’”
Financial Times (U.K.), Charles Clover, 21 AUG 2008
Summary:”Russia made clear on Wednesday that it had no intention of bowing to Nato’s calls for a withdrawal to the positions its forces held before the invasion of Georgia.” There is disagreement between Moscow and Western governments over the size of the”buffer zones” that surround the Russian-controlled enclaves.”The upper and lower houses of Russia’s parliament agreed to convene next week to discuss the recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
Today’s Zaman (TUR), Emine Kart, 21 AUG 2008
Summary: The Russian Federation’s strong desire for regional expansionism in the Caucasus has ironically been laying fertile ground for probable tensions between NATO allies, Turkey and the United States.
Kommersant (RUS), Natalia Gorodetskaya, Vladikavkaz; Victor Khamrayev, 21 AUG 2008
Summary: Russian State Duma MPs and Federation Council members are prepared to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia on August 25. Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov stated yesterday that”these breakaway republics’ remaining Georgia’s parts is out of the question”.
New York Times (U.S.), Steven Erlanger, 20 AUG 2008
Summary:”Europeans are frustrated and annoyed by Russia’s foot-dragging on a cease-fire deal to pull back its troops from most of Georgia, but few want this conflict to be the start of a new confrontation, and many feel a degree of sympathy with Russia. The United States…has talked in cold war terms, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice comparing the Russian move to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. But many European leaders believe that Mr. Saakashvili acted rashly when he sent his troops to take over the autonomous ethnic enclave of South Ossetia, bringing down much of the destruction upon his own head.”
The Guardian (U,K,), Julian Borger and Ian Traynor, 20 AUG 2008
Summary: Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said that Nato had launched Georgia on the path to membership; however his comments have raised eyebrows in Brussels where officials are wary. Germany and France have resisted U.S. pressure to give Georgia a Membership Action Plan (MAP), which is a formal prerequisite for negotiations.
Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Marcus Walker, 20 AUG 2008
Summary:”German Chancellor Merkel is emerging as a pivotal player in reshaping the West’s relations with Moscow.” Her skeptical view of Russia’s foreign policy is gaining ascendency in other European capitals and may serve to”reduce divisions over Russia between the EU’s old and new members…[and] move Europe closer to the U.S. on the need to prevent Russia from reasserting control over neighbors.”
The Moscow Times (RUS), Fyodor Lukyanov, 21 AUG 2008
Summary: The fighting between Georgia and Russia has resulted in a serious political crisis in U.S.-Russian relations. It seems as if both sides have gone back to the sharp Cold War rhetoric of the early 1980s.
Novayagazeta (RUS), Mikhail Gorbachev, 21 AUG 2008
Summary:”Russia was involved in this crisis as a result of Saakashvili’s adventure who would not have dared for it without outside help. Russia could not have stayed inactive, and so a response followed and the aggression was stopped. The decision by President Dmitry Medvedev about termination of military operations is a right and responsible step. The Russian President has been acting cool, confidently and firmly. In case someone had been calculating on confusion in Moscow, that calculating failed.”
ZEIT ONLINE (Germany), Alice Bota, 20 AUG 2008
Summary: An interview with Georgia’s former president about the reasons for the war, the position of president Saakashvili and the debate about missile defense.”President Saakashvili had every right to send troops to South Ossetia. It is Georgian territory.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Karl-Peter Schwarz, 20 AUG 2008
Summary: Schwarz argues:”Like the Soviet Union, Russia today is still not willing to accept the sovereignty of its smaller neighbors. Sure, Russia has transformed itself since the days of the Soviet Union and one can hardly deny the positive changes. However, the imperialistic great power attitude has remained the same and is still enforced with tanks, if smaller countries dare to oppose.”
Open Democracy, Ivan Krastev, 21 AUG 2008
Summary: Europe has entered the new 19th century. The Russia-Georgia war of 8-12 August 2008 has acted as a time-machine, vaporising the”end of history” sentiment that shaped European politics in the 1990s and replacing it with an older geopolitical calculus in modern form.
POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS:
The European Council on Foreign Relations, Daniel Korski, 21 AUG 2008
Summary:”Whilst it is easy to expose cracks in the alliance – Germany and France remain more skeptical of Georgian NATO membership than the U.S. and Britain – and the outcome of the NATO summit in December 2008 is still hard to predict, for the first time in decades all allies agree that NATO should not only be a niche provider of stability operations – as it seemed the U.S wanted – but a forum for trans-Atlantic political debate and full-spectrum operations, from stability to deterrence and conventional warfare.”
Foundation for Political, Social and Economic Research (SETA) Policy Briefs, Hasan Ali Karasar, AUG 2008
Summary: Turkey has been involved, historically and demographically, with many of the regions of”frozen conflict” in post-Soviet space. At this point, one might consider the position of Turkey as being at the epicenter of Euro-Atlantic and Russian extremes concerning the frozen conflicts. Georgia, since 1991, has been considered a valuable”strategic partner” by Turkey for several reasons. Turkish Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan’s Caucasus Pact idea is a good opportunity to create an inclusive new foreign policy approach at this stage. This approach should be merged with the representation of all the frozen or unfrozen conflict areas, peoples, ethnic groups and regions included under the roof of such an alliance.
This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.