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Georgia/Russia News: 21 AUG 2008

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 georgianews@gmfus.org.

NEWS:

Russian troops linger in Georgia

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.'”

Moscow rejects call for full pullout

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.”

Turkey frets over Cold War-type confrontation

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.

Russian MPs Start Struggle for Independence

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”.

Europe Grows Impatient as Delays Pile Up in Georgia

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.”

Miliband backs Georgia and widens Nato split

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.

Merkel Skepticism Toward Russia Gains Ascendancy

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.”

COMMENTARY:

Georgian Crisis Is a Trap for U.S. Leadership

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.

Preliminary Conclusions

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.”

“Ein heißer Krieg” – Interview: Georgiens Ex-Präsident Schewardnadse

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.”

40 Jahre Prager Frähling. Von Breschnew zu Putin

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.”

Russia and the Georgia War: the Great Power Trap

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:

Thanks to Russia, Nato is back

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.”

Saakashvili Pulled the Trigger: Turkey between Russia and Georgia

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.

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, France, Georgia, Germany, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations, Turkey, U.K. Politics0 Comments

Georgia/Russia News 22 AUG 2008

Note: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

NEWS

Russia says pullback complete, US, France call for more

Agence France Presse (France), 22 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia said Friday it had completed a pullback of troops from Georgia but the Georgian government challenged the claim while the United States and France called for further withdrawal €¦Bush and Sarkozy, who brokered the ceasefire accord, jointly called on Russia to”continue and complete” its withdrawal from Georgia, a statement from the French presidency said €¦NATO has condemned Russia’s military intervention and in response Russia has frozen cooperation with the Western alliance.”
 

Georgia Pulls Plug on Russian TV News
The St. Petersburg Times (RUS), Natalya Krainova, 22 Aug 2008
 
Summary: Georgian broadcasters have stopped carrying transmissions by the last Russian-language television news channel operating in the republic after it aired comments by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticizing the Georgian government.
 

Zerschnittene Lebensadern. Russland kontrolliert Georgiens Verkehr
Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany), Florian Hassel, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: Russia still controls the main lines of traffic and transport in Georgia, including the West-East-connections that grant access to the important ports of Poti and Kulewi. The Georgian government is worried that Russia will not give up control over some of these key connections, even if and after the majority of its troops leave the country.
 

U.S. Sees Much to Fear in a Hostile Russia
New York Times (U.S.), Peter Baker, 21 Aug 2008
Summary: “If Russia’s invasion of Georgia ushers in a sustained period of renewed animosity with the West, Washington fears that a newly emboldened but estranged Moscow could use its influence, money, energy resources, United Nations Security Council veto and, yes, its arms industry to undermine American interests around the world.”
 

Schwächelnde Großmacht. Russland fehlt die Kraft zum Kalten Krieg
Financial Times Deutschland (Germany), Eva Weikert, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: €žThe conflict in Georgia marks the beginning of the long struggle for dominance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia between Moscow and the West. But in the process one thing is becoming clear: Russia is less powerful than once thought.”  
 

Syria expected to reach arm deals
The Moscow Times (Russia), Oleg Shchedrov, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad backed Russia’s military action against Georgia at talks with President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday that were expected to cover purchases of Russian arms. A diplomatic source in Moscow told Interfax on Wednesday that Russia and Syria were preparing a number of deals involving anti-aircraft and anti-tank missile systems.
 

Waiting and watching
Economist, 21 Aug 2008
Summary: Turkey’s proposal of the “Caucasus Stability and Co-operation Platform” following the war in Georgia is likely to bring Armenia and Azerbaijan closer. Reconciliation between the two countries would give Azerbaijan an alternative export route for its oil and Armenia the promise of a new lifeline via Turkey. Some Armenians gloat that Russia’s invasion of Georgia will prevent Azerbaijan from retaking Nagorno-Karabakh by force, though others say the two cases are quite different.

COMMENTARY

What the West Can Do
Washington Post (U.S.), Richard Holbrooke, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: “Talk about taking away the 2014 Winter Olympics or ejecting Russia from the G-8 group of major industrial nations may (or may not) have some effect on Moscow, but the most important thing the West can do now is strengthen the government in Tbilisi. The equation is simple: If Mikheil Saakashvili survives, Vladimir Putin loses.”
 

The Death of 1989
The New Republic (U.S.), Paul Berman, 20 Aug 2008
Summary: “The damage has already been done. It is vast, and it is irreversible, at least for a long time to come. The vast and irreversible effects of the invasion of Georgia will be felt everywhere in the ex-Soviet bloc. The invasion of Georgia shines an alarming light on the nature of political thinking within the Russian leadership. A simple, adequate, tit-for-tat response to Russia’s invasion does not exist.”
 

Caucasian Stability Pact nice idea, but will it work?
Turkish Daily News (Turkey), Semih Idiz, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: Turkey’s proposal for a “Stability Pact for the Caucasus,” is clearly an expression of Ankara’s need to do something in the face of Russia’s invasion and occupation of Georgia. Having good relations with these two countries puts Turkey in a difficult position in this crisis. Turkey being a NATO member, and a close military ally of the United States and Turkey’s highly problematic relations with Armenia complicate the matter further.
 

Cold Cash, Not Cold War
Slate (U.S.), Daniel Gross, 21 Aug 2008
Summary: “It’s going to be a lot harder to have a Cold War between Russia and the West in 2008 than it was in 1948 €¦. Russia may not be a free-market paradise. But it has evolved into an important part of the global trading system and has built deep, enduring, and significant economic ties to the West. As a result, the implications of increasing tensions are as much economic as they are geopolitical. And a renewed chill between Moscow and Washington will trouble the sleep of CEOs as much as it will agitate peaceniks. On the other hand, the close economic ties make it less likely that political tensions will erupt into actual warfare since the executives in Moscow and New York (and London, and Frankfurt, and Milan €¦) will be lobbying for peace.”

Lobbying for War
Russia Profile  (Russia), Andrei Tsygankov,  21 AUG 2008
Summary: Although the principal responsibility for Georgia’s recent attack on South Ossetia lies with Tbilisi, the United States shares the blame for the resulting violence in the region. Because of American political support, economic assistance and training of the Georgian military, Tbilisi felt emboldened in its adventurism. Now that Georgia is defeated and its powerful patron humiliated, it is important to ask what actions and statements by the United States sustained the level of support that Tbilisi read as sufficient to launch a military campaign in Russia’s backyard.

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

Why I disagree with Tom Friedman
The German Marshall Fund Blog, Ronald D. Asmus, 22 Aug 2008
Summary: “If any strategic decision of the 1990s has stood the test of time, it is the decision to enlarge NATO to Central and Eastern Europe. Those suggesting that this decision is the cause of the current crisis with Russia are turning history on its head. Had we not enlarged NATO, the US today would be worse off strategically with more problems and fewer allies.”

Russian invasion of Georgia: goals and consequences
East Week by Center for Eastern Studies (Poland), 20 Aug 2008
Summary: Russia’s invasion of Georgia is an attempt to rebuild Russia’s sphere of influence in Central Asia. The goal of the invasion was to show governments from the region Russia’s power and the weakness of the West, especially of the United States.

 

 

Posted in Black Sea, Economics, European Union, Georgia, Germany, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia News: 25 AUG 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

NEWS  

Russian parliament votes to recognize Georgia breakaway regions

The Times Online (UK), Tony Halpin, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia’s parliament voted unanimously to recognize the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions today in a direct challenge to the West. The votes throw down the gauntlet to the West over its support for the democratic regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. The final decision will rest with Mr Medvedev, who has already declared his readiness to”make the decision which unambiguously supports the will of these two Caucasus peoples”. But divisions within Europe over the best response to Russia’s first military intervention since the end of the Cold War were quickly exposed in remarks by Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister. He told France Inter radio that, despite problems in the relationship,”we are not talking about sanctions” against Russia.”

 

An Uncertain Death Toll In Georgia-Russia War

The Washington Post (U.S.), Tara Bahrampour, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “On both sides it has been hard to find people with firsthand knowledge of deaths in a war that sparked the biggest crisis in Russia’s relations with Europe and the United States since the Soviet Union collapsed. What no one disputes is that villages emptied quickly. Aid groups and Georgian officials estimate that as many as 158,000 people have left their homes, including 30,000 ethnic Ossetians who went north to Russia. About 100,000 who fled South Ossetia and the Georgian city of Gori went to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and 22,000 to other towns.”

 

Blasts in Georgia Hit Train, 2 People: Officials Blame Russian Weapons

The Washington Post (U.S.), Jonathan Finer, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “A large explosion Sunday morning destroyed a train carrying oil through this town in central Georgia, engulfing mangled cars in a tower of flames. Georgian officials said they suspected Russian forces had mined the track or an adjacent military base.”

 

Russia invasion speeds Georgia NATO membership: U.S.

Reuters (U.S.), Melissa Akin, 23 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia has hastened Georgia’s march toward membership in NATO by going to war with it over its breakaway province of South Ossetia, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Saturday €¦ The 26-member alliance, which already includes the three former Soviet Baltic states, will convene in December to decide whether to grant Georgia a road map to accession, known as a Membership Action Plan.”

 

East-West Artery Reopens in Georgia

The Moscow Times (RUS), Nikolaus von Twickel, 24 Aug 2008

Summary:   Traffic gradually began to trickle along Georgia’s main east-west highway over the weekend, after the departure of Russian troops who had been barring traffic on the road and, effectively, cutting the country in half.

 

Ukraine Shines Its Weapons on Russia

Kommersant (RUS), Unattributed, 24 Aug 2008

Summary: Ukraine celebrated its 17th Independence Day yesterday. For the first time in seven years, military hardware rattled down Kreshchatik, Kiev’s main street. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in his holiday address to the country accused Russia of interfering in his country’s internal affairs and promised to raise the defense budget. But only NATO membership can save the country from the Russian military threat, he said.

 

EU Leaders to Discuss Georgia As Russia Flouts West

The Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Leila Abboud and Gregory L. White, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “France called a summit of European Union leaders for next week to discuss the conflict in Georgia, reflecting growing frustration among Western leaders as Russia defies calls to withdraw all its troops from Georgian territory €¦ So far, the Kremlin has seemed largely impervious to political pressure from the West, but U.S. and European leaders are growing increasingly concerned that Moscow’s ultimate aim is to cripple Georgia’s economy and the pro-Western government of Mikheil Saakashvili.”

 

Western leaders press Moscow on withdrawal

Financial Times, Charles Clover, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russian forces also continued to patrol the port city of Poti in spite of western criticism that the Russian military presence there violates a ceasefire agreement signed last week by the two sides. Russia is facing mounting international pressure as a result of the worsening humanitarian situation in Georgia, where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 15,000 people are in need of assistance.”

 

A Role for Merkel as a Bridge to Russia

The New York Times (U.S.), Judy Dempsey, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: German Chancellor, Angela Merkel hasseparated herself from Russia on several major foreign policy issues €¦This tougher stance by Berlin means two things: first, that Russia can no longer expect automatic sympathy from the German chancellor. And second, by adopting a more critical stance toward Russia, and by implication reassuring the countries of Eastern Europe, Germany is now in a stronger position to play a bigger role in shaping the European Union’s long-term relationship with Russia and the Caucasus.”

 

COMMENTARY

 

Georgia and The Stakes For Ukraine

The Washington Post (U.S.), Victor Yushchenko, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “Ukraine has become a hostage in the war waged by Russia. This has prompted Ukrainian authorities and all of our country’s people, including those living in the Crimea, to ponder the dangers emanating from the fact that the Russian Black Sea fleet is based on our territory. The tragic events in Georgia also exposed the lack of effective preventive mechanisms by the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations €¦ Ukraine favors a wider international representation in the peacekeeping force in the conflict area. A new multilateral format mandated by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is the only way to guarantee security in the conflict zone.”  

 

Amerikas Schwäche

ZEIT ONLINE (Germany), Joschka Fischer, 25 Aug 2008-08-25

Summary: In his weekly column Joschka Fischer argues that the West is sliding into a confrontation with Russia because of the Caucasus-conflict, that will prove to be yet another strategic cul-de-sac for both. However, “neither the West nor Russia can gain anything from this. Instead common interests demand for a new era of cooperation.” The former foreign minister states that “sure enough a return to Russian imperialistic-style politics towards its neighbors is not acceptable”, but “the West’s answer to this must not be shortsighted prestige-politics to conceal the its own weakness.”

 

Unromantisch und offen

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Daniel Brössler, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: Daniel Brössler argues that although Germany is an essential and strong part of the West, it entertains a special relationship with Russia. Based on this, the Russian leadership has traditionally hoped for Berlin’s understanding and even sympathy. This has changed. The war in Georgia marks a “caesura”, that calls into question all of Germany’s policies towards Russia. Brössler calls for a realistic assessment of the situation. “What is needed”, he argues “is an unromantic and open working relationship with Russia.”      

 

A Shield of a Passport

Russian Profile (RUS), Andreas Umland, 21 Aug 2008

Summary: The need to protect its citizens residing abroad has been one of the chief reasons Russia cited for its involvement in the South Ossetian debacle. However, the justification of protecting people involved in creating an independent state within another country’s internationally accepted borders has yet to have been cited by any country in the world. As the “Russia for Russians” slogan becomes ever more popular in the country, fewer Russians are likely to be able to tell ethnic Ossetians and ethnic Georgians apart.

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Can the EU win the peace in Georgia?

European Council on Foreign Relations, Nicu Popescu, Mark Leonard and Andrew Wilson, Aug 2008

Summary: “The EU has established itself as the main diplomatic broker in the conflict between Russia and Georgia. It should use this position to help forge a positive peace from a war which threatens the foundations of the European security order. Russia has used its conflict with Georgia to display its military power, reclaim a sphere of influence and frighten its neighbors. Rather than looking for punitive measures, the EU should respond to Russia’s demonstration of force with much stronger engagement for democracy, prosperity and security in the broader region – keeping tough measures towards Moscow on the table if Russia resists.”

 

Russia vs Georgia: The Fallout

International Crisis Group (ICG), Europe Report N °195, 22 Aug 2008

Summary: The Russia-Georgia conflict has transformed the contemporary geopolitical world, with large consequences for peace and security in Europe and beyond. ICG Report analyses the ramifications of the war and proposes policy recommendations individually for the Russian and Georgian Governments and the De Facto South Ossetian and Abkhazian Authorities, for the Member States of the UN Security Council, for the European Union and its Member States and for NATO and its Member States.

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia News: 26 AUG 2008

Note: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Russia Recognizes Breakaway Georgian Regions

Washington Post (U.S), Philip P. Pan and Jonathan Finer, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: President Dmitry Medvedev recognized the independence of two breakaway regions of Georgia on Tuesday and called on other nations to do the same, escalating what has become one of the most serious conflicts between Russia and the United States since the end of the Cold War. Georgian officials characterized Medvedev’s action as a de facto annexation of the two Russian-allied provinces, while the U.S. and the country’s Western allies were quick to condemn it.

 

Georgia rebels celebrate Kremlin recognition

Reuters, Indira Bartsits, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “Residents in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia fired into the air, opened bottles of champagne and wept on Tuesday after Russia recognized it and a second breakaway region as independent.”

 

Defying the Whole World

Komersant (RUS), Mikhail Zygar, 22 Aug 2008

Summary: Yesterday Russia demonstrated that it is not going to compromise in its current confrontation with the West. NATO got a notification from the Russian Defense Ministry about complete termination of military cooperation with the alliance, and Russian military detained France’s Ambassador to Georgia at the entrance to Gori. Finally, the congresses of the Abkhaz and Ossetian people called on Russia to recognize the breakaway republics’ independence, and Russian Foreign Minister hinted that this appeal has been taken into account in Moscow. On Monday both chambers of the Russian parliament may take corresponding decisions.

 

E.U. Treads Gingerly in Georgia Crisis

New York Times (U.S.), Steven Erlanger, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “Europeans agree that Russia overreacted to Georgia’s assault on South Ossetia and that Russia has not complied with the cease-fire agreement that ended the conflict. But Europeans disagree on what to do about it, with little obvious leverage on Russia, especially on the ground in the Caucasus. By contrast, the countries of Central Europe, like Poland, supported by the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and Britain, want a more confrontational stance toward Russia, to show Moscow that aggression has costs. But “old Europe” wants to help ease Russia out of its predicament and not create a long-term animosity with a country that has a strong energy, trade and cultural relationship with Europe.”

 

Cheney To Visit Georgia Next Week

Washington Post (U.S.), Dan Eggan, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “Vice President Cheney will travel next week to war-ravaged Georgia as part of a swing through several former Soviet republics, making him the highest-level U.S. emissary to visit the country since hostilities between Russia and Georgia broke out this month, officials said yesterday.”

 

Putin Eyes Retreat On WTO Accords

The Moscow Times (RUS), 26 Aug 2008

Summary:   Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia should abandon some of the commitments it made during World Trade Organization accession talks. Putin’s announcement is a first sign that an unraveling war of words between Russia and the West is likely to go beyond empty threats.

 

Resolution, Oil Prices Push Markets Lower

The Moscow Times (RUS), William Mauldin, 26 Aug 2008

Summary:   Russian stocks fell to their lowest since 2006 on concerns that the recognition of two  breakaway Georgian regions will renew tensions in the area, while lower oil prices may curb the earnings of energy companies.

 

Russia Not to Blame for Worsening of Relations with NATO – Medvedev

Focus (BUL), 26 Aug 2008

Summary: NATO is more than Russia interested in the development of the bilateral cooperation, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated on Monday.

 

Georgia: the Aftermath

New Statesman (UK), Matt Siegel, 21 Aug 2008

Summary: As Russian forces begin to withdraw, we are learning more about the events of the short but brutal war over South Ossetia. Matt Siegel reports from Tskhinvali and Gori, while local people give eyewitness accounts of the devastation.

 

COMMENTARY

 

Russia warms to the West no more

Säddeutsche Zeitung, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: For too long German policy makers have engaged in wishful thinking about the nature of the new Russia. The time of self-deceipt is now over. There is no way to avoid a simple conclusion: Russia’s”souvereign democracy” respects neither the sovereignty of its citizens nor of its neighbors. The erection of a”new sphere of influence” is simply unacceptable. With the new Russia, Germany will need to have a relationship a la carte rather than a strategic partnership.

 

How Not To Punish Moscow

Newsweek (US), Clifford G. Gaddy, 23 Aug 2008

Summary: “In search of a lever, many politicians, from both the left and the right, turn to economics, suggesting that the West can make Russia pay by measures such as blocking its accession to the World Trade Organization, expelling it from the G8 and restricting its investment and trade flows with the West. This is a mistaken approach. Using economics as a weapon against Russia poses risks to the global economic system itself.”

 

Wie weiter mit Russland?

Berliner Zeitung (Germany), Frank Herold, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: Frank Herold writes that “Russia is dictating the conditions for peace in Georgia. That is what victorious powers have done throughout history. But,” Herold goes on to argue, “the West should react calmly, as the decision of the Russian parliament to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia doesn’t change anything. Russia had actually long before recognized the separatist movements in Georgia.”

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Russia’s Arms Control Ripples

Council on Foreign Relations (U.S.), Greg Bruno, 26 Aug2008

Summary: “Reverberations from Russia’s conflict with Georgia extend in many directions, highlighting the extent of Russian power in its own region and beyond. Western states, for their part, have signaled potential trade moves against Russia and the end to”business as usual.” But one potential casualty that causes special worry for some analysts is the suspension of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and other arms control efforts.”

 

Posted in Balkans, Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations, United States0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 27 AUG 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Russia Says 2 Regions in Georgia Are Independent

Washington Post (U.S.), Philip P. Pan and Jonathan Finer, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia recognized the independence of two breakaway provinces of Georgia over the strong objections of the United States and much of Europe on Tuesday, escalating tensions in the region as Russian troops dug in on Georgian soil and U.S. warships prepared to deliver humanitarian aid to an occupied port city. The reaction in the West was swift and stern.”

 

US ships bring Georgia aid, avoid Russian-held port

Reuters, Niko Mchedlishvili, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “A U.S. Coast Guard ship carrying aid for victims of Georgia’s brief war with Russia arrived on the country’s Black Sea coast on Wednesday, but backed down from docking in a Russian-patrolled port.”

 

The World Wave

Kommersant (RUS), Mikhail Zygar, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: Yesterday Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev announced recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This step was condemned by all western states, and Great Britain even urged forming an international anti-Russian coalition. Several Kommersant interlocutors with Europe’s diplomatic sources compared the incident with 9/11 stating that the world politics will never be the same again.

 

Stocks Tumble in Moscow After Russia Recognizes Separatist Regions in Georgia

New York Times (U.S.), Andrew E. Kramer, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “The effects of Russia’s first foreign war as a capitalist country rippled Tuesday through the Moscow stock markets, which dipped to their lowest level since 2006. The loss of billions of dollars in paper value is confronting the Kremlin with a dimension to its geopolitical posturing that never existed during the cold war, even as Russia seemed to be consolidating its gains after the Georgia conflict.”

 

UK warns Russia against starting new Cold War

Financial Times (UK), James Blitz, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary, “said that this week’s recognition of Abkhazia and south Ossetia by Moscow marks a “moment of real significance” in post war-European history, creating real challenges for both Russia and the west. Mr Miliband balanced his argument by saying that, in its response to Russia over the next few weeks, the west must not seek to isolate Moscow, saying such a move would be counterproductive. “Isolation is not feasible. Russia is too enmeshed in the world economy.”

 

Kaukasus-Konflikt. Steinmeier sieht Sicherheit aller Europäer in Gefahr / Conflict in the Caucasus. Steinmeier sees security of all Europeans in danger

SPIEGEL ONLINE (Germany), 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “A drastic warning by the German foreign minister: Russia’s battle against Georgia and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could unhinge Europe’s entire security architecture €“ €˜ with unforeseeable consequences. Kremlin leader Medwedjew defends his actions.”

 

Medvedev Heads East Looking for Support

The Moscow Times (RUS), Anna Smolchenko, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: Russia will be looking for unambiguous support from Asian nations, including China, in its standoff with the West over South Ossetia and Abkhazia when the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meets Thursday in Dushanbe.

 

Merkel kritisiert Medwedjews Entscheidung. €žVölkerrechtswidrig und nicht akzeptabel” / Merkel criticizes Medwedjews decision. €žViolating international law and not acceptable”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Siegfried Thielbeer, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “Federal chancellor Merkel during a state visit to Estonia criticized the Russian parliament’s and president’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as violating international law.”

 

Russian General Slams U.S. Black Sea Presence

The St. Petersburg Times (RUS), David Rising, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: A Russian general suggested that U.S. ships in the Black Sea loaded with humanitarian aid would worsen tensions already driven to a post-Cold War high by a short but intense war between Russia and Georgia. The U.S. Navy destroyer U.S.S. McFaul reached Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi on Sunday, bringing baby food, bottled water and a message of support for an embattled ally.

 

COMMENTARY

 

“Die romantische Phase ist vorbei”/ The romance is over

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Interview with Alexander Rahr, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: Moscow has recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian expert Alexander Rahr compares the current situation with the Cuban crisis and expects a clear response from the West. States that recognize the independence of the breakaway enclaves must be prepared for economic sanctions or an interruption in diplomatic relations with the West.

 

Shevardnadze speaks on the Georgia crisis: ‘This War Could Have Been Avoided’

Spiegel Online, An interview with Eduard Shevardnadze, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “We have always had a special relationship as neighbors and that our governments now have a responsibility to restore what was good between Russia and Georgia. Needless to say, Georgia’s wanting to join NATO isn’t something Russia finds pleasing. But the West has the right to support Georgia if it wants to. And every country can align itself as it sees fit. In the end, what can Russia do to keep this from happening? Georgia must join NATO.”

 

Life With Precedents

The Novayagazeta (RUS), Pavel Voshanov, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: Not long ago it seemed that the cold war was over and the great powers were ready to get united for finding solutions to numerous and sharp humanitarian issues of the mankind. Alas, nothing of that happened. Recently, people in the West and in the East have come to a feeling that the world is divided again on “friends” and “enemies” and the guns are ready to speak instead of diplomats at any moment.

 

In der Sackgasse / In the cul-de-sac

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Sonja Zekri, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: Russia’s president Dimitrij Medwedjew is leading his country into a self-destructive political isolation. It is unclear how Moscow and the West intend to find a way out of this gravest crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union €¦Moscow wants to impose its rules on the world community, but despite its oil and gas, it won’t succeed in doing so. Instead, it has maneuvered itself into a cul-de-sac where compromising appears like losing. Moscow alone can find a way out of this situation.”

 

Analysis: Nato agreements are at risk

Times Online (UK), Michael Evans, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: Nato commanders are waiting anxiously to see if Russia intends to scrap its offer to allow civilian supply convoys to use Russian land routes into Afghanistan. This is far from the only element of Nato/Russian military co-operation now at risk, however, because of the row over Georgia. Several areas of joint activity and assistance include:” training and exercises, counter-narcotics training, search and rescue cooperation, and crisis management exercises.

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS  

How to manage Russia

Council on Foreign Relations (U.S.), Richard Haas, 01 Sep 2008 (for Newsweek)

Summary: “Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s decision to reassert his government’s authority in South Ossetia looks rash: he underestimated the Russian response, and he overestimated what the United States and others would do on his behalf. Both Senators McCain and Obama have been robust in their denunciations of Russian actions. But the fact is that there is little the United States can do to help Georgia. The real question is how the next president will deal with Russia come January.”

 

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, Germany, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 28 Aug 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Russia’s Warships Arrived in Abkhazia

Kommersant (RUS), 27 Aug 2008

Summary: The warships of Russia arrived in Abkhazia’s Sukhumi port of the Black Sea, Interfax reported. This first official friendly visit of warships to Abkhazia is aimed at easing concerns triggered by strengthening of NATO group of warships in the Black Sea.

 

Russia’s Asia allies fail to back Georgia action

Reuters, Denis Dyomkin, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “Moscow appeared diplomatically isolated when it recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on Tuesday. Medvedev suffered a new diplomatic setback when leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), who gathered for a summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, failed to explicitly back his Caucasus policy.”

 

Russia Plans To Cut Imports Of U.S. Meat

Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Lauren Etter and Daria Solovieva, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “Amid fraying trade relations between Moscow and Washington, Russia said it would slash U.S. import quotas for chicken and pork, both big export products to the region from the U.S. After U.S. officials said Russia’s war with Georgia had cast doubt on Russia’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday called for pulling out of trade deals that Russia had signed when it was expecting quick admission into the trade body.”

 

Russia long-range missile test a success

Reuters, Chris Baldwin, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia successfully tested a long-range Topol missile designed to avoid detection by anti-missile defence systems from its Plesetsk launch site.”The launch was specially tasked to test the missile’s capability to avoid ground-based detection systems,” said Colonel Alexander Vovk of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces.”

 

Russland eint die NATO / Russia unifies NATO

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Nikolas Busse, 27 August 2008

Summary: The West’s response to Russian behavior in Georgia is becoming more consolidated. Quoting the new U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, the article illustrates that western ambivalence towards Russia in the name of a larger strategic interest would be a dangerous path to tread. The situation is reminiscent of the Cold War when Russia unified NATO members.

 

Georgia Hesitates to Break off Relations with Russia

Kommersant (RUS), Vladimir Solovyov and Georgy Dvali, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: Despite the military conflict with Russia and the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian government has not dared to undertake extreme measures €“ breaking off diplomatic relations with Moscow. Tbilisi says it will soon make up its mind. Today it plans to officially register the Russian troops’ occupation of several Georgian territories.

 

EU officials express surprise over Russia sanctions

The Times (UK), Michael Evans, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “The European Union is considering sanctions against Russia as punishment for refusing to withdraw its troops from Georgia and for recognizing the two breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, although the EU under the presidency of France wants to take a tough position against Russia’s continuing failure to meet the terms of the six-point peace plan on Georgia, brokered by President Sarkozy, the issue of sanctions is likely to provoke divisions in Europe.”

 

Russia Adopts Blustery Tone Set by Envoy

New York Times (U.S.), Clifford J. Levy, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “Here is one measure of the aggressive shift in Russian foreign policy in recent weeks: Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s representative to NATO, a finger-wagging nationalist who hung a poster of Stalin in his new ambassadorial office, is not sounding so extreme any more. Now the rising stature of Mr. Rogozin, who called NATO criticism of Russia’s military action “bigoted and indecent,” underscores Russia’s new tone – one adopted by both Mr. Putin, now prime minister, and President Dmitri A. Medvedev.”

 

COMMENTARY

 

Moscow’s plan is to redraw the map of Europe

Financial Times (UK), Mikheil Saakashvili, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “Any doubts about why Russia invaded Georgia have now been erased. By illegally recognizing the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, made clear that Moscow’s goal is to redraw the map of Europe using force. This war was never about South Ossetia or Georgia. Moscow is using its invasion, prepared over years, to rebuild its empire, seize greater control of Europe’s energy supplies and punish those who believed democracy could flourish on its borders.”

 

Gespräch mit Steinmeier: “Russland äberzieht”

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Daniel Brössler, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “In this interview with Säddeutsche Zeitung, Foreign minister Steinmeier criticizes Moscow for its actions in the Caucasus conflict €“ but, at the same time warns of a renaissance of outdated hostilities.”

 

In Georgia, no bullets and no peace

International Herald Tribune (U.S.), Opinion, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “While many Russians are cheering [Putin] now, we doubt that they will be eager to return to the grim days of Soviet isolation. For all its oil wealth, Russia is still a poorly developed, corrupt and fragile state. It is not in its long-term economic and security interest to divorce from the international mainstream.”

 

All Quiet on the Southern Front

Russia Profile (RUS), Sergey Markedonov, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: Despite Having Been Affected by the Russo-Georgian Squabble, Both Armenia and Azerbaijan Cautiously Abstain From Taking Sides.

 

What’s the Rush?

Russia Profile (RUS), Dimitry Babich, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: The Russian leadership dramatically raised the stakes in its standoff with Georgia and Tbilisi’s sympathizers in the West. On Tuesday, Russia’s president signed a decree on the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two separatist regions whose conflicts with the authorities in Tbilisi triggered three wars inside Georgia during the last 18 years. Since Dmitry Medvedev was expected to use the potential declaration as a bargaining tool in the future, many are now perplexed by his speedy decision.

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

One Way to Save the Relationship

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (U.S.), Rose Gottemoeller, 27 Aug 2008

Summary: “As we sort out the implications of this disaster, safe havens for cooperation still remain. The entire nuclear agenda is in this category, whether we are talking about a potential nuclear weapons program in Iran, the future of nuclear energy, the threat of nuclear terrorism around the world or the necessity of achieving further nuclear reductions in the United States and Russia.”

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 29 AUG 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Security Group Refuses to Back Russia’s Actions

New York Times (U.S.), David L. Stern, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia suffered a significant setback [in Dushanbe] on Thursday, as members of a regional security group in which the Kremlin plays an important role offered little support for Moscow’s military action in Georgia €¦Instead, the Shanghai organization, which also includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, took a neutral stance, urging Russia and Georgia to resolve their differences peacefully.

 

Russia urges West to refrain from sanctions

Reuters, Conor Sweeney and Francois Murphy, 29 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia on Friday urged European Union leaders to put aside emotion when they decide what action to take against Russia over Georgia, and the bloc’s appetite for sanctions appeared to be waning. Diplomats said they received signals from the Kremlin that Russia would retaliate if the EU imposed punitive measures when leaders of the bloc, which depends on Russian energy imports, meet in Brussels on Monday.”

 

Black Sea Turned into North-Atlantic Sea

Kommersant (RUS), Vladimir Solovyov and Georgy Dvali, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: Yesterday Russia’s military warned of the possibility of NATO ships maneuvers in the Black Sea. According to the Deputy Head of the Russian General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, there are nine military ships of the alliance, which “makes the situation in the region more intense”. A military and diplomatic source has even stated that Russia will have to confront shock units of NATO’s Navy, “which is operating under the pretext of shipping humanitarian aid to Georgia or conducting exercises.” Meanwhile American navies have reached the town of Gori, which was controlled by the Russian army.

 

Putin Asserts Link Between U.S. Election and Georgia War

Washington Post (U.S.), Philip P. Pan and Jonathan Finer, 29 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he had reason to think U.S. personnel were in the combat zone during the recent war in Georgia, adding that if confirmed, their presence suggested”someone in the United States” provoked the conflict to help one of the candidates in the American presidential race.

 

Russia Deal May Fall, a Casualty of Conflict

New York Times (U.S.), Peter Baker, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: Just three months ago, President Bush reached a long-sought agreement with Russia intended to open a new era of civilian nuclear cooperation and sent it to Congress for review. Now, according to administration officials, Mr. Bush is preparing to scrap his own deal €¦ Unlike more symbolic actions being discussed in Washington, like throwing Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, canceling the nuclear pact would involve concrete consequences potentially worth billions of dollars to Russia.”

 

Media Talk: Caucasus War Draws Interest

New York Times (U.S.), Pradnya Joshi, 24 Aug 2008

Summary: In an age when news organizations in the U.S. are cutting back on foreign coverage, the Georgia-Russia conflict received more coverage the week of Aug. 11 than the U.S. presidential election or the Olympics. Why? The coverage drew parallels with the Cold War €“ a foreign story to which most Americans can relate.

 

Medvedev Disappointed in Dushanbe

Moscow Times (RUS), Nabi Abdullaev, 29 Aug 2008

Summary: Moscow fell short of the diplomatic support it was looking for on Thursday, as Central Asian states and China failed to recognize the independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, offering instead only qualified praise for Russia’s actions in the Georgian conflict.

 

Russia Accuses UN of Double Standards over Georgian Regions

RIA Novosti (RUS), 29 Aug 2008

Summary: Russia has accused the UN Security Council of having double standards on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and lacking understanding of the conflicts in the separatist Georgian regions.

 

EU Seeks Common Response To Russia

 

The St. Petersburg Times (RUS), Nabi Abdullaev and Nikolaus von Twickel, 29 Aug 2008

 

 

Summary: The European Union is likely to issue a condemnation of Russia’s recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia at an extraordinary summit in Brussels on Monday. But while some European politicians have called for sanctions, the meeting might shy away from imposing painful economic or political measures based on concerns that Europe is just as dependent on Russia as Russia is on Europe.

 

COMMENTARY

 

EU must give Kiev accession hope

Financial Times (UK), Editorial, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “The pledges of support given this week to Ukraine by David Miliband, the UK foreign secretary, and other European Union ministers must be followed by concrete action. It is not enough for the EU to warn that Russia might try to build on its military victory in Georgia by targeting Ukraine and other vulnerable ex-Soviet republics. The west should respond €“ and the EU must play a big role in that response.”

 

Krieg als Therapie

Zeit Online (Germany), Michael Thumann, 29 Aug 2008

Summary: “Can a war be therapy? For many Russians the war in the Caucasus is something new. It is neither the existence-threatening German attack in WW II, nor the helpless permanent battle that characterized the Russian wars in Chechnya. If war is becoming short and controllable like the re-conquering of South Ossetia and the invasion deep into Georgian territory, then it may appear to lose many of its dark sides.” Thuman argues that for the Russian leadership and its propaganda, the war in Georgia heals the broken Russian self-esteem, that was hurt through a series of perceived humiliations by the West over the last decade.

 

A Change of Heart

Russia Profile (RUS), Sergey Markedonov, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: So far, only Moscow has recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in the nearest future there is not much hope that the list of recognizing states will grow. Although Russia has repeatedly refused to recognize the two breakaway republics in the past, as soon as its own security was threatened, its attitude toward the two entities quickly evolved €“ the country does not want to be seen as weak and insignificant, while another refusal would have tarnished its reputation. Thus the Kremlin seems to have chosen the easiest way out.

 

Putin maps the boundaries of greater Russia

Financial Times (UK), Philip Stephens, 28 Aug 2008

Summary: “We need to get this straight. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded a neighbour, annexed territory and put in place a partial military occupation. It seeks to overthrow the president of Georgia and to overturn the global geopolitical order. It has repudiated its signature on a ceasefire negotiated by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and disowned its frequent affirmations of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Most importantly: all of this is our fault.”

 

Wer machtlos droht, hat schon verloren

Tagesspiegel (Germany), Gerd Appenzeller, 29 Aug 2008

Summary: “To threaten Russia only makes sense, if you can live up to it. In this respect, the EU seems powerless. In the long run Europe needs to open itself to other options €“ and at the same time keep in mind that its partner Georgia is not a democracy either €“ just like Russia.”

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

After Georgia: Turkey’s Looming Foreign Policy Dilemmas

German Marshall Fund, Ian Lesser, 26 Aug 2008

Summary: “The Russian invasion of Georgia is a stark reminder of the unsettled nature of the Turkish geopolitical scene. By all indications, the crisis in Georgia is unlikely to end anytime soon. Even if Russian forces withdraw to negotiated positions, there is every prospect for a sustained Russian political and security presence in the country. Under these conditions, Ankara will once again face Russian power directly on its borders.”

 

Crisis in the South Caucasus: Turkey’s Big Moment

German Marshall Fund, Amberin Zaman, 25 Aug 2008

Summary: “As the only NATO member to border the Caucasus. Turkey control the Bosporus and Dardanelles, through which Russia and other Black Sea countries conduct most of their trade. The conflict between Georgia and Russia offers Turkey a unique opportunity to bolster its regional clout, to check Russian and Iranian influence, and to help secure the flow of Western-bound oil and natural gas from former Soviet Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Will Turkey’s leaders rise to the occasion?”

 

Russia’s Security Ties in Asia

Council on Foreign Relations (U.S), Jayshree Bajoria, 28 Aug 2008

Summary:Amid growing international criticism for its military actions in Georgia, Russia is seeking support from some of its neighbors. At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), on August 28, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev hailed”united” support from member countries China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan €¦some analysts see the SCO as a vehicle for Russia and China to curb U.S. access to the region’s vast energy supplies. SCO’s possible expansion, especially if it included Iran, would only add to Western suspicions against the alliance.”

Posted in Asia, Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia News: 02 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

For Thousands of Refugees From the Conflict in Georgia, the Fear Lingers

New York Times (U.S.), Dan Bilefsky and Michael Schwirtz, 01 Sep 2008

Summary: “As quickly as war erupted between Russia and Georgia, more than 150,000 refugees left home in a fearful scramble. More than three weeks later, many remain stranded in tents, some with little prospect of ever venturing back to their burned, mined villages. Others have gone home; some are in Russia. All carry the scars that make any war, however short, linger in memory and legend.”

 

Russia to Cut Oil Supplies to Europe In Response to Sanctions

Kommersant (RUS), 29 Aug 2008

Summary: Russia’s government may prompt at least one oil company to cut supplies of crude oil to Europe in response to the threats to impose sanctions in the wake of the conflict with Georgia.

 

EU warns Russia of talks delay

Financial Times (UK), Tony Barber, James Blitz and Daniel Dombey, 01 Sep 2008

Summary: “European Union leaders warned Russia on Monday that they would postpone talks on a new long-term partnership agreement unless Moscow withdrew its troops in Georgia to positions occupied before last month’s fighting €¦The communiqué contained no threat of economic sanctions against Russia. It represented a compromise between France, Germany and Italy, which are keen to maintain dialogue with Moscow, and others such as the UK, Poland and the Baltic states, which have adopted a harder line.”

 

E.U. Eases Off on Economic Threats After Russia Suggests Troop Pullback

Washington Post (U.S.), Philip P. Pan, 02 Aug 2008

Summary: “The European Union on Monday backed off threats to impose economic sanctions on Russia but said it would suspend talks on a wide-ranging partnership agreement with Moscow until Russian troops withdraw from positions inside Georgia €¦Britain and some Eastern European nations had called for tougher action against Russia €¦But other nations urged further dialogue with the Kremlin, arguing that trying to isolate Russia would be counterproductive, especially given Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and natural gas.”

 

EU Leaders Put Off Moves to Pressure Moscow

Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Marc Champion, John W. Miller, David Gauthier-Villars and Alessandra Galloni, 02 Sep 2008

 

Summary: “The European Union pledged Monday to help Georgia recover from Russia’s continuing military intervention, but fears over Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy and of splitting the EU prevented moves to pressure Moscow.”

 

Russia says EU right to avoid sanctions

Reuters, Oleg Shchedrov, 02 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia praised the European Union on Tuesday for taking a”responsible approach” to its conflict with Georgia by declining to impose sanctions on Moscow but said the EU had failed to understand its reasons for intervening.”

 

Two Georgians Went to War but Never Got to Fight

New York Times (U.S.), Michael Schwirtz, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: “Giorgi Monasalidze and Nika Kharadze wandered into war singing Georgian patriotic songs, their heads filled with visions of military heroics. They ended up prisoners, compelled to clean up the debris that the fighting had left behind.”

 

Russia Cut Import of U.S. Poultry

Kommersant (RUS), 01 Sep 2008

Summary: Russia excluded 19 enterprises of the U.S. from the list of poultry importers starting from September 1, 2008. The given reason was poor quality of the product.

 

Medvedev Outlines Five Main Points of Future Foreign Policy

RIA Novosti (RUS), 31 Aug 2008

Summary: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev outlined on Sunday the five points upon which Moscow’s future foreign policy will be based, and also said that it could if necessary introduce sanctions against other states.

 

Kremlin Makes Its Case With Tskhinvali Tour

The MoscowTimes (RUS), Anna Smolchenko, 01 Sep 2008

Summary: The Kremlin only had to charter a plane, take about 60 foreign and Russian reporters to Beslan, bus them through the nearby Roksky Tunnel to South Ossetia, and stand back.

   

COMMENTARY

 

The coming transatlantic crisis: Russia’s resurgence as a world power and America’s decline mean that US and European interests are on a collision course

The Guardian (UK), Bruce Ackerman, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: “A fundamental conflict is emerging between America and Europe. Europe’s supreme strategic interest will increasingly become the definition and stabilisation of its border with Russia. This will also be an important matter for the United States, but it will not be all-important. As a consequence, Americans will be willing to trade off Europe’s supreme interest against US objectives in other parts of the world.”

 

Der Preis des Hasses

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Richard Holbrooke, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: Richard Holbrooke writes that “although one might think that Russia has reached its goals in Georgia, it has in fact not reached its true goal of removing Georgia’s pro-democratic, pro-American president Saakashvili” and that most likely Moscow “has even lost the chance to remove the Georgian president through its open use open use of violence during the conflict.” But, Mr. Holbrooke goes on to write, the Georgian president also needs to rethink his own strategies.

   

A Council of the Offended

Russian Profile (RUS), Dmitry Babich, 01 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia’s representatives made defiant statements throughout the day on Monday, as EU leaders held an emergency summit in Brussels to define the EU’s attitude toward Russia’s recognition of the separatist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are legally still parts of Georgia. Instead of bowing to the EU’s pressure, Russia’s representatives suggest imposing an arms embargo on Georgia.

 

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Evaluating the Damage

Russia Profile (RUS), Vladimir Frolov, 01 Sep 2008

Summary: With the Russian military operation to rebuff Mikheil Saakashvili’s attack on South Ossetia essentially over, and with Russia and the West engaged in a rhetorical fistfight over the conflict’s aftermath, time has come to sort through the debris of the international system that has demonstrated its ineffectiveness to deal with quarrels involving major powers.

 

Understanding Russia: Moscow’s aggression is aimed not at Georgia’s territory but at Europe’s new democracies

Washington Post (U.S.) , Editorial, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: “This is a moment for clarity in thinking about Russia, which is forcibly occupying sizable chunks of a neighboring country and claiming it has every right to do so €¦Judging by the E.U.’s feckless response yesterday to Russia’s aggression, many European leaders still want to believe Mr. Chizhov. But what is happening in Georgia is very much about ideology, and the longer the Europeans pretend otherwise, the greater the damage they will have to contain.”

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Leaders debate Georgian War and Russian Relations

The German Marshall Fund (U.S.), 01 Sep 2008

Summary: “On Monday September 1st 2008, the German Marshall Fund held a debate entitled”The War in Georgia and Relations with Russia: What happened and What Now?” in Brussels, Belgium just before an emergency European Summit began. The five panelists were: Radoslaw Sikorski, Polish Foreign Minister, Matthew Bryza; US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Temuri Yakobashvili; Georgian Minister for Reintegration, Vladimir Chizov; Russian Ambassador to the European Union, and Eckart Von Klaeden; Foreign Policy Spokesman of the CDU/CSU in the German Bundestag.”

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, France, Georgia, Germany, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 03 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Ukraine’s coalition turns on itself

Financial Times (UK), Roman Olearchyk, 03 Sep 2008

 

Summary: “Ukraine’s pro-western coalition descended into chaos on Wednesday even as western leaders sought to demonstrate their support for Kiev following Russia’s intervention in Georgia €¦ Fresh political turmoil is unlikely to help Kiev’s bid for speedy integration with the EU and Nato. Kiev hopes to conclude an agreement on closer integration with the EU at a summit in Evian, France, on September 9. Ukraine’s president also hopes Nato will grant his country a Membership Action Plan in December, a move that would kick start membership preparations.”

 

Ukrain’s Presidential Party Quits Ruling Coalition

RIA Novosti (RUS), 03 Sep 2008

Summary: Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s party officially pulled out of the ruling pro-Western coalition on Wednesday amid a government dispute over presidential powers and the Georgia-Russia conflict.

 

Russia to Close Markets for Neighboring WTO Member

Kommersant (RUS), 03 Sep 2008

Summary: Ukraine is a new target of Russia’s war with the WTO. First Vice Premier Igor Shuvalov yesterday committed to protect Russia’s economy against goods supplied by Ukraine, a member of WTO. Sources say the conditions for free trade with Ukraine will be either abolished or toughened, and the sugar market of Russia will open until January 1, 2009.

 

Russia President Dismisses Georgia’s Leader as a €˜Political Corpse’

New York Times (U.S.), Ellen Barry, 02 Aug 2008

Summary: “President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia said Tuesday that he no longer recognized Mikheil Saakashvili as the president of Georgia, calling him “a political corpse” in his most lacerating words to date about a government Moscow wants to force from power €¦ Mr. Putin, in Uzbekistan, announced an agreement to build a new natural gas pipeline to Russia from Central Asia, frustrating European and American efforts to ship oil and gas directly to the West.”

 

Russia closes Georgia embassy, freezes visas

Associated Press, Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili, 03 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia closed its embassy in Georgia and halted consular operations after Georgia severed diplomatic ties following last month’s war, the Russian consul said Wednesday.”

 

Cheney to Take Aim at Russia’s Gas Clout

Wall Street Journal (U.S.), Guy Chazan and John McKinnon, 03 Aug 2008

Summary: “Vice President Dick Cheney will use his trip to the Caucasus this week to try to loosen Russia’s grip on Caspian and Central Asian oil and gas exports. But he may be too late. Mr. Cheney’s objective is to express U.S. backing for an export route that crosses the Caucasus, bypassing Russia.”

 

Georgia Eager to Rebuild Its Defeated Armed Forces

New York Times (U.S.), C. J. Chivers and Thom Shanker, 02 Aug 2008

Summary: “Just weeks after Georgia’s military collapsed in panic in the face of the Russian Army, its leaders hope to rebuild and train its armed forces as if another war with Russia is almost inevitable €¦ Officials at the Pentagon, State Department and White House confirmed that the Bush administration was examining what would be required to rebuild Georgia’s military, but stressed that no decisions had been made. The choices each pose difficult foreign policy questions.”

 

Nato urged to bolster Baltic defence

Financial Times (UK), James Blitz, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: “The US called on Nato on Tuesday to be better prepared to defend the three Baltic states €“ Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania €“ from military attack, after Russia’s recent incursion into Georgia €¦ In Brussels, Mr Volker said Nato was firmly committed to defending the Baltic states from attack because, unlike Georgia, they were signatories to the alliance’s Article 5, which guarantees defence of one ally by all the rest.”

 

Russia says Washington fanning Georgia instability

Reuters, Tabassum Zakaria and Guy Faulconbridge, 03 Aug 2008

Summary: “Russia accused the United States of stirring up instability in Georgia on Wednesday, hours after U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney landed in the region to show support for Washington’s ex-Soviet allies.”

 

Georgia Pulled Out of Agreements on Ossetian Conflict Settlement

Kommersant (RUS), 03 Sep 2008

Summary: Georgia has unilaterally pulled out of agreements on settlement of the conflict in South Ossetia, News Georgia reported.

 

Lavrov Denies Singling Out Turkey

The MoscowTimes (RUS), Murad Sezer, 03 Sep 2008

Summary: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Tuesday that strict new import measures were not aimed at punishing NATO-member Turkey for allowing U.S. warships to steam through its waters to deliver aid to Georgia.

 

COMMENTARY

 

The Market Will Punish Putinism

Wall Street Journal, Judy Shelton, 03 Aug 2008

Summary: “But even as Russian tanks assert a physical claim on Georgian territory, Moscow is already feeling the consequences in fiscal terms. Foreign investment capital — the lifeblood of Russian equity and credit markets — is draining out as the world recoils. Group of Seven leaders should take particular note of this spontaneous market phenomenon — and also take heart. Because no matter what sanctions the European Union might choose to impose, no matter how severely the world’s leading industrialized nations jointly condemn their”fellow G-8 member” — nothing will punish Russia more than to watch the dream dissolve yet again.”

 

An der Wegscheide

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Gänther Nonnenmacher, 03 Sep 2008

Summary: Gänther Nonnenmacher argues that although the EU did not decide to impose sanctions, it clearly signaled to Moscow that its relations with Russia have come to a crossroads. Still, it depends on whether or not Moscow is coming to the conclusion that its actions in the Caucasus will in the end hurt its own interest. For it could be, Nonnemacher writes, that “the leadership in Moscow has already decided to pursue its new great power policies to re-establish old spheres of influence despite the possible consequences €“ for example in Transnistria or the Crimea.”

 

Chopping cilantro in Tbilisi the night the war began

International Herald Tribune (U.S.), Stephanie Gruner, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: An American reporter reflects upon her reaction to military developments in South Ossetia. “So the night the war began, we sat down to dinner with friends on our porch €¦Over dessert things calmed down. My husband scooped up our friends’ 3-year-old son and carried him off to race across the lawn, and I sensed my daughter roll over in my belly. Our guests seemed content. There we sat, looking out over the flowers and herbs and fruit trees in our walled-in garden.”

 

My Dinners With Misha

Slate (U.S.), Victoria Floethe, 02 Sep 2008

 

Summary: “These days, the news from Georgia is all bombing campaigns and Russian occupation, but for an odd and magical week in the summer of 2006, I was part of Mikheil Saakashvili’s great and tragic fantasy of an independent, America-loving Georgia.”

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Andropov’s Ghost Lives On

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Nikolai Petrov, 02 Sep 2008

Summary: “The open hostilities of the Georgian war have settled down, but the war of interpretations is still being fought. The patriotic rhetoric continues against a backdrop of inflammatory and confrontational statements by government leaders. Politicians and analysts claim that no harm will come to the country’s international reputation, that the furor in the West will die down and everything will return to normal relations. But this naive optimism is both groundless and foolish.”

Posted in Black Sea, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations, Turkey0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 4 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Cheney Backs NATO Membership for Georgia

New York Times (U.S.), Steven Lee Myers and Alan Cowell, 4 Sep 2008

Summary: “One day after the United States proposed $1 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance to help rebuild Georgia after its war with Russia, Vice President Dick Cheney flew here to reaffirm Washington’s support for this country’s eventual NATO membership and to issue a powerful condemnation of Moscow €¦His words of support for Mr. Saakashvili placed him on a direct collision course with Russia’s leaders who have labeled the Georgian president a “political corpse” and who have made clear that they see Georgia’s membership of NATO as intolerable.”

 

Cheney, in Tbilisi, Slams Russian Actions

Washington Post (U.S.), Tara Bahrampour, Karen DeYoung and Howard Schneider, 4 Sep 2008

Summary: “Vice President Dick Cheney arrived here on Thursday with harsh words for Russia and a message of support for the Georgian government, saying that the military conflict between the two countries had”cast grave doubt on Russia’s intentions and on its reliability as an international partner.”.. Appearing with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Cheney called the Russian actions”an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change your country’s borders by force,” and reiterated U.S. support for Georgia’s”territorial integrity” and its eventual membership in NATO.”

 

Russia May Suspend Support for NATO Operations in Afghanistan

Ria Novosti (RUS), 4 Sep 2008

Summary: Russia’s NATO envoy has said that Moscow could suspend cooperation with the military alliance on Afghanistan over the recent Georgia crisis.

 

Georgia war boosts Medvedev’s status

Reuters, Oleg Shchedrov, 4 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia’s conflict with Georgia has helped President Dmitry Medvedev emerge from the shadow of his mentor Vladimir Putin by letting the soft-spoken lawyer assume the mantle of wartime leader €¦The war, in which Russia crushed an attempt by Georgia’s military to retake the breakaway South Ossetia region and sent its troops deep into Georgia, has reshaped the domestic political landscape. Throughout the crisis, Medvedev appeared as a confident leader who made the key decisions, from ordering the invasion to signing a ceasefire deal.”

 

Ukraine government near collapse

International Herald Tribune (U.S.), Clifford J. Levy, 4 Sep 2008

Summary: “The Western-leaning governing coalition in Ukraine, which took power during the Orange Revolution in 2004 but has endured repeated tumult ever since, appeared once again near collapse on Wednesday €¦Yushchenko, whose party had been allied with Tymoshenko’s in Parliament, said his party would withdraw from the governing coalition, adding that a new one had to be formed. He seemed to be daring Tymoshenko to formally join with the pro-Moscow Party of Regions, a move that might upset her supporters.”

 

Nicaragua to Recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Ria Novosti (RUS), 4 Sep 2008

Summary: Nicaragua is taking final steps to officially recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in line with the president’s decision, a deputy foreign minister said.

 

Russia reviews trade deals after conflict

Financial Times (UK), 3 Sep 2008

Summary: “The collateral damage from Russia’s dispute with Georgia over the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has spread to encompass its trading relations with the rest of the world. In the past week Moscow has announced it will suspend agreements to import pork and chicken, banned 19 US companies from exporting poultry to Russia and blocked Turkish trucks at customs posts.”

 

Stocks Tumble, Ruble Passes 25

The Moscow Times (RUS), Courtney Weaver, 4 Sep 2008

Summary: The ruble fell by as much as nearly 2 percent against the dollar on Wednesday. Russia’s RTS Index dropped 4.3 percent, pummeled by low oil prices, a tightening market and geopolitical concerns over Russia’s rift with the West over Georgia.

 

COMMENTARY

 

Hot or Cool on Russia?

Washington Post (U.S.), David Ignatius, 4 Sep 2008

 

Summary: “In the days after the Russian invasion of Georgia, the world had a chance to examine the different foreign policy styles of John McCain and Barack Obama €¦Listening to McCain, you sensed the beginning of a new Cold War; hearing Obama, you felt a desire to prevent that Cold War from taking root.”

 

Da war doch Puschkin – Russland und sein verlorenens Imperium

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), J. Aumäller, 3 Sep 2008

Summary: Aumäller argues that “the conflict in South Ossetia and the debate about the Crimea is not only about Russia’s urge to power €“ it also has to do with the Russian soul, which feels discriminated by history.”

 

Global Cooling

Kommersant (RUS), Mikhail Zygar, Vladimir Solovyov, Dmitry Butrin, 3 Sep 2008

Summary: “Last week Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that he is not afraid of cold war. The West started discussing possible sanctions against Russia. Trying to forecast what Russia and the world can expect in the near future, Vlast weekly made up a cold war guide-book.”

 

Sphere of intolerance?

Financial Times (UK), Stefan Wagstyl, Roman Olearchyk and Jan Cienski, 3 Sep 2008

Summary: “The big question is whether instability spreads from Georgia or whether a new balance of forces emerges, with Russia playing a bigger role. The answer depends on the Kremlin’s ambitions, its readiness to resort to force and its willingness to exploit its role as an energy superpower. The responses of its neighbours will also matter, as will the reaction from the west, including the US, the European Union and Nato. Potential flashpoints include Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltic states and the energy-rich Caspian region.”

 

Gerhard Schröder gibt dem Westen die Schuld

Die Welt (Germany), Daniel Friedrich Sturm, 2 Sep 2008

Summary: Sturm reports on a speech former chancellor Gerhard Schröder gave in Berlin on September 1. In his speech Schröder attacked the West for being too critical towards Russia.

 

The Years Wasted

Russian Profile (RUS), Georgy Bovt, 3 Sep 2008

Summary: Diplomatic perturbations spurred by the recent crisis in South Ossetia have brought Russia to the verge of global isolation, nearly canceling all of Russia’s past efforts to build understanding and rapport with the West. But if Russia’s international bridges were immediately shuttered by an acute crisis, how sturdy were they to begin with?

 

A False Alarm?

Russian Profile (RUS), Sergei Balashov, 2 Sep 2008

Summary: This tumultuous summer had it all – diplomatic tensions, a war, and yet another scandal between the government and a major corporation. All of this took a heavy toll on foreign investment in the country, as key economic indicators plummeted, making room for what seems like a full-scale financial demise of an otherwise steadily growing economy. But experts are confident that Russia can easily rebound, downplaying the investment cuts as a factor that won’t impact long-term growth, but will rather set the scene for another massive economic surge.

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Hunter: Russia is Long Run €˜Loser’ in Georgia Conflict

Council on Foreign Relations (U.S.), Interview with Robert E. Hunter, 3 Sep   2008

Summary: “Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili miscalculated badly in sending his troops into South Ossetia in mid-August. This move precipitated a conflict with Russia and the Russian recognition of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent. In the long run, however, Hunter says that”Russia is the loser here.” At a time when the Russians need Western investment and expertise,”Putin has gone much too far and does not understand exactly what he is doing €¦”

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations, United States0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 8 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Russia aims to corner energy market: U.S. official

Reuters, Tabassum Zakaria, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia aims to extend its control over energy deliveries to the West and it is important that European countries push forward on efforts to diversify routes for oil and gas supplies, a senior U.S. official said on Monday €¦ Europe and the United States are concerned about transit routes for oil and gas through eastern European countries which are seen as alternatives to Russian supplies.”

 

Europe Sends Mission to Moscow

New York Times (U.S.), Ellen Barry and Steven Erlanger, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “A senior European Union delegation, led by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, arrived in Moscow on Monday and began talks with the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, about the Georgia crisis. The delegation’s goal is to get Russia to pull its troops out of Georgia and finally comply with the six-point cease-fire agreement the two men negotiated last month.”

 

Sarkozy Returning To Clarify Cease-Fire

The Moscow Times (RUS), Nabi Abdullaev and Anatoly Medetsky , 8 Sep 2008

Summary: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting Moscow on Monday to urge President Dmitry Medvedev to pull Russian troops out of Georgian territory surrounding South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in accordance with a cease-fire agreement signed last month.

 

Russia ships to join Venezuela naval exercises in Caribbean

Los Angeles Times (U.S.), Chris Kraul, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “The Venezuelan government announced Sunday that four Russian naval vessels will participate in joint exercises in the Caribbean this year, a move that could heighten already strained relations between Washington and Moscow.”

 

White House Set to Put Aside U.S.-Russia Nuclear Agreement

Washington Post (U.S.), Michael Abramowitz, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “The White House plans to formally pull from congressional consideration an agreement with Russia for civilian nuclear cooperation, perhaps as soon as today, Bush administration sources said over the weekend. The move would be the latest effort by the administration to convey its displeasure with Russia over its military actions in Georgia in the past month €¦ Withdrawing the agreement from Congress avoids a rejection of the pact, allowing the White House to save the deal for the next administration, should relations with Russia improve, some experts said.”

 

Bush Set to Back Out Of Nuclear Agreement

The Moscow Times (RUS), 8 Sep 2008

Summary: Now is not the right time for the United States to move forward on a once-celebrated deal for civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

 

Georgia Gets a Collective Assessment

Kommersant (RUS), Vladimir Solovyev, 5 Sep 2008

Summary: Russian diplomacy acieved an important triumph in foreign relations yesterday. At the Moscow meeting of the foreign ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization a joint statement was adopted that laid all the blame for the conflict in South Ossetia on Georgia. At the same time, the members of the organization gave support to a package of Russian proposals touching on global security, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s idea of developing a European treaty. Moscow will try to build upon that success at the CSTO summit today.

 

COMMENTARY

 

Coming to Grips With Russia’s New Nerve

New York Times (U.S.), James Traub, 6 Sep 2008

Summary: “Georgia’s fate, however, rests not with President Bush, but with his successor. John McCain, a longtime friend of Georgia and President Saakashvili, has threatened “severe, long-term consequences” for United States-Russia relations, and has proposed offering security guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia, including NATO membership. Barack Obama, whose natural inclinations are less punitive, has also declared that we “must review all aspects of relations with Russia,” though he and several leading Democratic policy figures have been more cautious on the question of NATO. Of course, American policy will not be shaped only by our view of Russia. Our European allies, especially Germany and France, are more dependent on Russian energy and trade than we are, and far more directly threatened by Russian aggression.”

 

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Why Is Russia Losing the Media War?

The Russian Profile (RUS), Stephen Blank, Ethan Burger, Eugene Ivanov, James Jatras, Andrei Liakhov, Edward Lozansky, Darren Spinck, Ira Straus, 5 Sep 2008

Summary: The Russians may have won the military battle, but the Georgians won the war itself on the international media front. In the wake of the armed conflict over South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili effectively managed to get his message across to the world that Georgia was a victim of Russian aggression. Russia’s leaders then provided their own riposte; however, this proved too little too late. Why has Russia been so inept in presenting its case before Western audiences?

 

Europe must bring Ukraine into the fold

Financial Times (UK),Tomas Valasek, 7 Sep 2008

Summary: “In a spectacular case of bad timing, Ukraine’s government all but collapsed last week. President Viktor Yushchenko withdrew most of his deputies from the ruling coalition with Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister. Unless the two reconcile or the prime minister finds new coalition partners soon, Ukraine may have to hold new elections €“ the third in two years.”

 

The Trouble With Saakashvili

Washington Post (U.S.), Jackson Diehl, 8 Sep 2008

Summary:The crisis in Georgia had settled by late last week into a test of wills over the survival of Mikheil Saakashvili’s pro-Western government €¦ The irony is that, beneath that overweening campaign to contain Russian belligerence, American officials are still seething at Saakashvili.”

 

A way for America to get Russia in line

International Herald Tribune, John Vinocur, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “But the Bush administration, beyond the verbiage, has wobbled between passivity and retreat. In place of an American policy – there is none – the job of extracting the Russians from Georgia, and then seemingly deciding on how to penalize them for the invasion, has been turned over to the Europeans. It’s an extraordinary moment of American abdication. Responsibility for it belongs to a president who clung to his belief in a benign Russia and a mysterious, misguided notion of Putin’s soulfulness in the face of three years of intensifying nationalism, aggressivity of all sorts, strangled attempts at democracy and threats to American   allies.”

 

Russian Roulette for Investors

The  Moscow Times (RUS), Richard Hainsworth, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: When Russian troops moved into Georgia, foreign investors moved out and the Russian market plummeted. When U.S. troops moved into Iraq, foreign investors hesitated but the U.S. market barely blipped. Is this a double standard?

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Punishing Russia

American Enterprise Institute (U.S.), Gary J. Schmitt, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “In order to deter future acts of Russian aggression, the United States and its transatlantic allies must develop a coordinated diplomatic and economic plan to punish Russia for its recent incursions in Georgia. As Paris and Berlin have proved hesitant to do so, however, Eastern European states must continue to advocate in NATO and the European Union for a tougher response.”

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations, United States0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 9 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

U.S. Rules Out Unilateral Steps Against Russia

New York Times (U.S.), Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “The Bush administration, after considerable internal debate, has decided not to take direct punitive action against Russia for its conflict with Georgia, concluding that it has little leverage if it acts unilaterally and that it would be better off pressing for a chorus of international criticism to be led by Europe €¦Even as they vowed to work with allies, administration officials conceded that they wished the European Union had been willing to take firmer action than issuing tepid statements criticizing Russia’s conduct.”

 

Russia to Ramp up Military Presence in Georgian Territories: Breakaway Republics Will Host Bases With 3,600 Russian Soldiers Each

Washington Post (U.S.), Philip P. Pan, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia plans to more than double its military presence in the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and station troops there indefinitely, officials said Tuesday, a day after President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to withdraw Russian forces from the rest of Georgia by Oct. 11.”

 

Russian Warships Exercise in Atlantic

Kommersant (RUS), 9 Sep 2008

Summary: Joint exercises with Venezuelan ships will be held in the Atlantic Ocean in November of this year as part of the military preparedness plan. Viktor Dygalo, head of the information and public relations service of the Russian Navel Fleet stated that Russia will send a detachment of ships from the North Sea Fleet led by the heavy atomic cruiser Peter the Great.

 

Russia agrees to Georgia troop pull-out

International Herald Tribune, Ellen Barry and Dan Bilefsky, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “After a tense four-hour meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Russia’s president, Dmitri Medvedev, announced Monday that Russia agreed to withdraw its troops by mid-October from its positions in Georgia outside the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia €¦The conflict has become a test for the European Union’s ambition to become a major foreign policy player on a par with the United States, and a personal credibility test for the French president, who currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.”

 

Medvedev Agrees to Withdrawal Plan

The Moscow Times (RUS), Nabi Abdullaev and Anatoly Medetsky , 9 Sep 2008

Summary: Russia has agreed to remove its troops from”buffer zones” in Georgia within 10 days of the deployment of additional EU monitors.

 

Georgians Question Wisdom of War With Russia

Washington Post (U.S.), Tara Bahrampour, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “As open war between Georgia and Russia has subsided into a tense standoff among world powers, Georgians inside and outside the government have begun to question the wisdom of the costly confrontation, and of the leaders who set it in motion €¦Opposition leaders as well as some longtime supporters of the president are calling for investigations into what they call failures in diplomacy and warfare, and some are predicting Saakashvili will be forced from office by a war they say he hoped would earn him a place in history.”

 

EU Invites Belarus Foreign Minister to Paris Talks

RIA Novosti (RUS), 9 Sep 2008

Summary: The EU said Tuesday the Belarus foreign minister has been invited to attend a meeting in Paris on September 15 in a sign that the 27-nation bloc is shifting away from its hard line stance towards Minsk.

 

Georgia takes Russia to UN court

Financial Times (UK), Michael Steen, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “Georgia resurrected an international racial discrimination convention from the 1960s on Monday to take Russia to a United Nations court in The Hague over its invasion of South Ossetia €“ accusing Moscow of ethnic cleansing. If successful, the novel legal move could yield a symbolic victory for Tbilisi, which says it was the victim of Russian aggression in last month’s conflict.”

 

 

 

Banks Left Wanting At Auction

The Moscow Times (RUS), Jamey Keaten, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: Russian banks on Monday sought more money than was on offer at an auction of unspent budget funds aimed at supporting liquidity in the industry after investors continued pulling money out of the country’s markets last week.

 

EU frustrates Ukraine’s membership hopes

Financial Times (UK), Tony Barber, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “The European Union on Tuesday declined to offer Ukraine the long-term prospect of EU membership, frustrating Ukrainian officials who said the bloc had thrown away a golden opportunity to stabilise its eastern frontier and encourage political and economic reform in Kiev €¦Diplomats said Germany and the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent Belgium, were the states most reluctant to make a firm promise that Ukraine could one day join the EU.”

   

A postwar cultural reckoning for Georgia

International Herald Tribune, Dan Bilefsky and Michael Schwirtz, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “When a Russian-language theater troupe from Georgia went to St. Petersburg a few years ago to stage a darkly satirical play about modern Russia – featuring a mentally impaired child named Vladimir who brings the country to ruin and a Stalinist plot to create a master race through artificial insemination – much of the Russian audience hissed and booed €¦The war and its aftermath have nevertheless been greeted with an anti-Russian backlash that is spilling over into politics and culture.”

 

COMMENTARY

 

Caution Over Confrontation

Washington Post (U.S.), David Ignatius, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “In the month since the Russian invasion of Georgia, the Bush administration has crafted a policy that should please some liberal critics and upset conservative hard-liners — a low-key approach that tries to help the Georgians recover without backing Russia further into a corner €¦This go-slow message is in part a reflection of the administration’s frustration that Saakashvili ignored repeated advice over the past two years not to provoke Russia over the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”  

 

Between cold war and appeasement

Financial Times (UK), Gideon Rachman, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “But what is clear is that Georgia placed a big bet on its special relationship with the US €“ and that it failed to pay off. Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, is the only city that I have ever visited with a George W. Bush Avenue (although I am told there is another one in Albania). Yet €“ when fighting broke out €“ George W. Bush Avenue was a road to nowhere.”

 

The Blame Game

The Russian Profile (RUS), Shaun Walker, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: Covering the short August conflict between Russia and Georgia was an exercise in sifting through propaganda and hyperbole and dissecting it for fragments of truth. As the dust settles on the war, the question of guilt and responsibility remains one of the most hotly debated, with the Russians upset that much of the international community has bought Georgia’s version that the spat occurred as a result of a Russian provocation.

   

Still frozen in Moscow

The Guardian (UK), Julian Borger, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “It is hard to see what Geneva can achieve, and it is equally difficult to imagine what the EU can do if Russia does not withdraw from Georgia after all. Britain’s attempt to use the crisis to crystallise some sort of united European bargaining position on Russian gas supplies has gone nowhere. The national interests at stake are too immediate and too visceral. No European government is willing to risk its voters going cold this winter because of withheld supplies.”

 

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Where Should U.S. Policy toward Russia Go from Here?

Center for Strategic and International Studies (U.S.), Andrew C. Kuchins, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “Emotions are riding high in Washington, but the United States must very carefully consider and calibrate its response to prevent a complete breakdown in the U.S.-Russian relationship that would seriously damage a number of its core security and foreign policy interests around the world. We are on the precipice of a twenty-first century Cold War that could easily prove to be more dangerous and unstable than the one the United States survived and won in the last century. Alliances are more rickety, interests more cross cutting, so behavior is less predictable, and the possibility for miscalculation considerably greater.”

 

Playing Russian Roulette in Kiev

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (U.S.), Dmitri Trenin, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: “The most recent round of chaos reflects the vast schism that has long existed in Ukraine, but has been thrust onto center stage by Russia’s incursion into Georgia €¦ Though such fault lines are nothing new in a diverse and fractious nation that counts no fewer than three Orthodox churches, plus a Greek Orthodox community that recognized the pope’s authority, the trouble in the Caucasus may this time create a political earthquake with enormous consequences.”

Posted in Black Sea, European Union, Georgia, NATO, Politics, Russia, Transatlantic Relations0 Comments

Georgia/Russia news: 10 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Russian troops dismantle west Georgia checkpoints

Reuters, Lasha Berulava, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russian soldiers were dismantling checkpoints in western Georgia on Wednesday, a Georgian official and a Reuters witness said, two days after Moscow pledged to pull back forces from deep inside its neighbor €¦ It also pledged to pull out within a week from the area around Poti, a small oil and dry grain shipment port. Its actions there will be seen by the West as a key test of Russia’s promises.”

 

Georgia police officer slain near Russian checkpoint

International Herald Tribune, Dan Bilefsky, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “The shooting occurred just two days after Russia agreed to withdraw its forces from positions in western Georgia, and it threatened to aggravate the fragile peace following the five-day war that broke out last month when Russia and Georgia clashed in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has had the support of Russia.”

 

Medvedev fails to halt Russian market slide

Financial Times (UK), Rachel Morarjee and Peter Garnham, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia’s stock market tumbled to a fresh two-year low on Wednesday despite an attempt by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other officials to shore up the market with promises of government support. Mr Medvedev said on Wednesday that the 45 percent slump in Russian stocks since May is temporary, and the government has the power to bring them back to levels seen at the start of the year.”

 

Freshly Recognized

Kommersant (RUS), Vladimir Solovyev, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: Russia established diplomatic relations with Tskhinvali and Sukhumi yesterday. In the near future, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign intergovernmental agreements on friendship and cooperation with the leaders of the two freshly recognized republics. Among other things, the agreements propose the placement of Russian military bases on the territories of the republics.

 

Italy upsets US over Georgia

Financial Times (UK), Guy Dinmore, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “Once a favoured ally rewarded for his support of the US invasion of Iraq, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s centre-right prime minister, has evolved into a serious irritant for the Bush administration in handling Russia’s invasion of Georgia €¦ According to European diplomats, Bush administration hawks view with suspicion Mr Berlusconi’s close personal ties to the Russian leader and worry about Italy’s presidency of the G8 from January.”

 

U.S. Intelligence Sees It Russia’s Way

Kommersant (RUS), 10 Sep 2008

Summary: American intelligence confirms that the latest military actions in South Ossetia were started by Georgia and Russia’s position in the conflict was correct, says Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. He said the situation reminded him of the Bay of Tonkin incident, which the U.S. used as a pretext for beginning the war in Vietnam.

 

Russia’s Recognition of Georgian Areas Raises Hopes of Its Own Separatists

New York Times (U.S.), Ellen Barry, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “Tatarstan is a long way from South Ossetia €¦Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, both have given rise to separatist movements. And when President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia formally recognized the breakaway areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations two weeks ago, activists in Kazan, the Tatar capital, took notice.”

 

Russland fordert Waffenembargo gegen Georgien

FAZ.NET, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: Russia has called for an arms embargo against Georgia at the UN Security Council. The aim is to prohibit member states from selling arms and military equipment to Georgia and to decline to provide military help, advice or training. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitali Churkin called the initiative an important political signal even if it had few chances of being implemented.

 

Saakashvili Signed It

Kommersant (RUS), Alexander Gabuev and Georgy Dvali, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: Monday night, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili signed addenda to the Medvedev-Sarkozy peace plan, which the EU delegation had brought him from Moscow. However, Tbilisi interprets the document so that international monitors are eligible to reside not only in the buffer zone round South Ossetia and Abkhazia but also in the territories of the two republics. Nicolas Sarkozy spoke in favor of this position on behalf of the EU. Meanwhile Russian Foreign Office Chief Sergey Lavrov assured Kommersant it is only Russia’s troops that will provide security in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

 

NATO Takes Count in Georgia

Kommersant (RUS), Georgy Dvali, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: A group of NATO experts has arrived in Tbilisi. Kommersant has learned that they will evaluate the losses to the Georgian military infrastructure in its recent conflict with Russia. The alliance is taking inventory before providing Georgia with aid. A decision on the volume and nature of that aid will be made at the visiting session of the NATO council that will be held in Tbilisi next week.

 

Georgian strife causes political rifts

Politico (U.S.), David Rogers, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “The fallout from Russia’s conflict with Georgia is producing an unusual split in American politics – not between the parties so much as between the presidential candidates and their colleagues in Congress. It’s as if the rhetorical pressure on Russia is being left to the campaign trail while back in the Capitol, there is more caution about extending U.S. commitments.”

 

US Trade Secretary Cancels Nicaragua Trip Amid Recognition Row

Ria Novosti (RUS), 10 Sep 2008

Summary: The U.S. trade secretary has cancelled a visit to Nicaragua citing a change in”circumstances” just days after the Central American country recognized Georgia’s breakaway regions, the U.S. envoy told local media.

 

Saakashvili muss Antworten geben

Financial Times Deutschland (GER), Nils Kreimeier und Eva Weikert, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: After the war with Russia part of the political elite in Georgia is turning against President Saakashvili. The former Speaker of the Parliament, Nino Burjanadze, who is viewed as a potential successor of Saakashvili by the West demands internal Georgian inquiries about the start of the war with Russia.

 

COMMENTARY

 

Can Nato partners stop dithering on Russia?

The Times (UK), Bronwen Maddox, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “Should Nato now revert to its original model: an alliance against a hostile Russia? That is what several countries in Eastern and Central Europe now want. They won’t – and shouldn’t – get a response in the very tangible and archaic form that some want. Nato is not about to revert to its incarnation as an organisation that strings forces along the Russian border. It can’t afford to, and that would be extravagantly provocative to Russia, without much real value in return.”

 

 

Russian Army’s Weakness Exposed During the War in Georgia

The Ria Novosti (RUS), 9 Sep 2008

 

Summary: On September 10, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov is scheduled to address the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, to inform the deputies about current military development and various problems. Serdyukov will probably have to explain why the Russian Army lacked modern weapons during the recent peace enforcement operation in Georgia.

 

Prospects for a legal block on ethnic cleansing are slim

Financial Times (UK), Quentin Peel, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “Small wonder that Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, looked pleased with himself when he met Nicolas Sarkozy, his French counterpart, at Meiendorf castle, a neo-Gothic state residence outside Moscow, this week. The deal they negotiated to finalise the ceasefire between Russia and Georgia seems to have been precisely what Moscow always wanted.”

 

A Lovers’ Quarel

The Russian Profile (RUS), Roland Oliphant and Yekaterina Novozhilova, 8 Sep 2008

Summary: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Kiev on Thursday, on a tour directed at strengthening Washington’s support for its allies in the former Soviet Union. However, for Ukraine’s president, discussing his country’s security and route to becoming a NATO member has been less of a pressing issue in recent days. The collapse of Ukraine’s ruling parliamentary coalition means that Viktor Yushchenko and former ally Yulia Tymoshenko will renew their political rivalry and tussle for power once again, using their own specific means.

 

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Georgia/Russia news: 11 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

S. Ossetia Sends Russia Mixed Signals

New York Times (U.S.), Ellen Barry and Alan Cowell, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “The leader of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region, the focus of Russia’s war with Georgia last month, offered conflicting versions Thursday of his country’s relations with Moscow, first saying that he wanted to join Russia but then insisting that he favored independence, according to news reports €¦Although he did not give a timetable, Mr. Kokoity’s declaration was the clearest public statement so far of South Ossetia’s and Russia’s intentions. He would not have spoken so unambiguously without direct Kremlin backing.”

 

South Ossetia pledge to join Russia

Financial Times (UK), Stefan Wagstyl, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Eduard Kokoity, president of the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia, on Thursday pledged to unite with Russia by merging with its autonomous republic of North Ossetia.”

 

U.S. Examined Beginning of War

Kommersant (RUS), Dmitry Sidorov and Alexander Gabuev, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives held hearings on the recent war in Georgia. During the debates high-ranking State Department and Pentagon officials actually admitted that it was Tbilisi that started the hostilities attacking South Ossetia. This said, Washington virtually acknowledged the chronology Russia regards real. However, it would be untimely for Moscow to triumph. American military and diplomats still consider Russia’s reaction “disproportionate” calling on to counter the Kremlin’s “imperial reach”.

 

South Ossetia does not want to join Russia, says Moscow

The Guardian (UK), Mark Tran, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “South Ossetia does not want to become part of Russia, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said today, following a series of contradictory statements from Eduard Kokoity, the South Ossetian leader.”

 

Israel Bans Arms Dealers from Visiting Georgia

Kommersant (RUS), 11 Sep 2008

Summary: Israel has ordered to halt all sales of military equipment to Georgia, The Associated Press reported with reference to the sources with Israeli defense community.

 

Russian Bombers Land In Venezuela for Drills

Washington Post (U.S.), Ian James and Vladimir Isachenkov, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Two Russian strategic bombers landed in Venezuela on Wednesday as part of military maneuvers, President Hugo Chávez said, welcoming the unprecedented deployment at a time of increasing tensions between Russia and the United States. Russian military analysts said it was the first time Russian strategic bombers have landed in the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War.”

 

Russia Warns Poland on U.S. Missile Shield

New York Times (U.S.), Judy Dempsey, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia warned Poland on Thursday that it was “playing a dangerous game” by agreeing to deploy part of the controversial American anti-ballistic missile shield on its territory.”

 

Medvedev Says State Can Lift Markets

The Moscow Times (RUS), Tim Wall , 11 Sep 2008

Summary: As Russian stock markets suffered a second straight disastrous day of trading Wednesday, President Dmitry Medvedev played down the drastic falls of recent months and pledged that the government would restore the markets to their levels at the beginning of the year.

 

Russia may use wealth fund to support markets

Financial Times (UK), Rachel Morarjee, Charles Clover and Peter Garnham, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia is considering using money from its national wealth fund and pension fund to support financial markets where necessary in the future, Alexei Kudrin, finance minister said on Thursday as the country’s stock market trod water despite government moves to bolster confidence.”

 

Georgian Opposition Eyes Presidency

Kommersant (RUS), Olga Allenova and Georgy Dvali, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: The Georgian Defense Ministry yesterday denied information published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that ministry representatives spoke against the actions of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in South Ossetia at a recent meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Nonetheless, that information bolstered the spirits of the Georgian opposition, which demanded Saakashvili’s resignation. Kommersant decided to measure the depth of the internal division in Georgian society and the presidential prospects of opposition leaders.

 

COMMENTARY

 

The weakness of the West: Russia is on the front foot now – but not forever

The Economist (UK), Opinion, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “The West still sells one thing that is not made in Russia: respectability. That matters to the class that Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian commentator, calls “global kleptocrats”. They want their businesses audited, lawyered and banked by blue-chip Western respectability-merchants. Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai may offer that eventually, but not yet. Restricting the sale of respectability while the West still has some in stock would be a powerful sanction.”

 

The Economist Debate Series: Assetive Russia

The Economist (UK), Anne-Marie Slaughter, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “A bold Western response should have three components: letting the European Union take the lead, albeit with close coordination with the United States; splitting Russia off from its incipient partners in a global G5 (with China, India, Brazil and South Africa); and using networks of economic, religious, social and cultural actors below the surface of traditional geopolitics to bring home the true costs of Russia’s actions.”

 

 

Conflicts Thawing from Within

The Russia Profile (RUS), Sergei Balashov, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: The recent crisis between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia has created speculation over possible further eruptions over the “frozen conflict” territories of the former Soviet Union, namely the regions of Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. However, instead of continuing the recent trend in conflict resolution, rather than seeing them as a playground for grander, political pursuits between international powers, the troubled regions of the CIS need a new localized approach in solving their impending crises.

 

 

Drei neue Staaten

Die ZEIT Online (Germany), Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: Fritz-Vannahme argues that there are essentially now three new states in the Caucasus: €˜Core’-Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Although the EU officially resists the Russian attempt to divide the country, it has de facto accepted the change in the status quo: “The new map of the Caucasus is being drawn in Moscow. And not in Brussels, let alone in Washington.”  

 

POLICY INSTITUTE ANALYSIS

 

Economist Debate: Assertive Russia

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (U.S.), Dmitri Trenin, 9 Sep 2008

Summary: “In responding to the Russia-Georgia crisis, punishing the Russians is an option that is frequently advocated in the West. However, in an Economist Debate, Dmitri Trenin argues that before taking such bold steps, the West should first determine what Russia wants and where it is heading. Additionally, It should use this present crisis to structure a security relationship in Europe that would both include Russia and reassure its wary neighbors.”

 

Russia’s Next Target Could Be Ukraine

American Enterprise Institute (U.S.), Leon Aron, 10 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russia’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgia was the beginning of a disturbing turn in Russia’s national security and foreign policy. The primary goal of Russian foreign policy is now its reemergence as a super power and control over its former Soviet neighbors. Countries seeking greater ties with the West are in danger of more direct Russian intervention. In particular, the Crimea is Ukraine’s weak spot and may be Russia’s next target.”

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Georgia/Russia news: 12 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

Putin tells Britain: relations can only improve when you remove dissidents

The Times (UK), Richard Beeston, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Vladimir Putin served notice yesterday that his country’s relations with Britain would never recover while London remained a base for antiRussian dissent €¦The former President stepped aside this year to make way for Dmitri Medvedev but spoke and acted very much like a head of state. At times he displayed anger, particularly when discussing the deployment of US warships off the Russian Black Sea coast.”

 

Stung by Criticism Over Georgia, Putin Asks West for a Little Understanding

New York Times (U.S.), Ellen Barry, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “More than a month has passed since Russia sent columns of armor into Georgia, asserting its sphere of influence with a confidence not seen since the days of the Soviet Union. But since the first hours of this crisis, Russian leaders have been asking the same question with mounting frustration: Why is everyone blaming us for this?”

 

Putin denies Georgia link to market woes

Financial Times (UK), Stefan Wagstyl, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that foreign capital inflows could fall by up to 45 per cent this year, but rejected suggestions that turmoil in Russia’s financial markets was caused by the conflict in Georgia €¦Mr Putin blamed Russia’s outflow of capital on “speculative” moves by western institutions withdrawing funds because of the “mortgage crisis” in the US and Europe.”

 

Russia, Abkhazia, S.Ossetia to sign cooperation deals next week

RIA Novosti (RUS), 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Nesterenko also said that Russia and Georgia’s rebel republics are currently working on draft military cooperation agreements that are aimed at ensuring stability and security for the residents of both regions.”

 

 

Ukraine comes to the forefront

The Economist, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “THE first priority for Europe after Russia’s short August war with Georgia was to secure a ceasefire and a genuine pullback of Russian forces (see article). The second was to start fretting about Russia’s other neighbours. And the most significant of these by far is Ukraine. The Russians have been publicly silent about Ukraine in recent weeks, knowing that they hold some strong cards, besides having just defeated Georgia. Ukraine is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its oil and gas, for uranium enrichment, and as a market in which it can sell its own goods.”

 

Medvedev”would attack Georgia even if on NATO track”

Reuters, Janet McBride, Michael Stott and Christian Lowe, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that even if Georgia were on a firm path to NATO membership, he would not hesitate to attack it under circumstances similar to last month’s conflict €¦The Russian president balanced his remarks by saying he did not believe the Caucasus crisis had caused a faultline in relations between Russia and the West, which would lead to another long period of confrontation.”

 

Palin takes tough line on Russia

Financial Times (UK), Edward Luce, 11 Sep 2008

Summary: “Sarah Palin, the running mate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, on Thursday said the US would be obligated to go to war with Russia if it invaded a Nato ally €“ a status she advocated for Georgia, which Russia invaded last month.”

 

Abkhazia Now Craves Investors’ Recognition

The Moscow Times (RUS), Anna Smolchenko, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Abkhazia is looking to attract investors with sandy beaches, 220 days of sunshine every year and an airport that once served as a backup landing pad for the Soviet space shuttle.”

 

Belgium cancels warship visit to Russia

RIA Novosti (RUS), 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Belgium has cancelled an official visit by one of its warships to Russia, a source in the Russian Navy said on Friday.”

 

COMMENTARY

 

Die Tär bleibt zu

Säddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Cathrin Kahlweit, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: Kahlweit states: “Moscow is not going to let EU-observers into South Ossetia €“ Brussels has to accept that”. She argues that the mild reaction from Brussels is a “victory of politics over rhetoric”, as “it is smart to not create too much pressure to even keep up the dialogue with the Russians.

 

Vladimir Putin eats three grapes and keeps Russia’s worst-kept secret

Financial Times (UK), Richard Beeston, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “He hates the foreign media, bridles at the least provocation and rounds on his opponents like a terrier. But a three-hour lunch with Vladimir Putin at his favourite resort of Sochi reveals that the Russian Prime Minister has a sense of humour, can be charming and can turn his anger on and off at will.”

 

 

What Foreign Investors Fear the Most

The Moscow Times (RUS), Alexei Bayer, 12 Sep 2008

Summary: “Foreign investors are feeling the cold Soviet winds as well, and they have pulled about $25 billion out of Russia during the past three weeks, according to French investment bank BNP Paribas. After all, Soviet communism and the stock market make very bad bedfellows. Remember what the value of the RTS index was under Leonid Brezhnev? Zero, of course, because there was no stock value and no stock market under communism. This is what foreign investors fear the most as they watch precariously where Russia is heading.”

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Georgia/Russia news: 15 SEP 2008

NOTE: This is an informational compilation. GMF does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, the content contained herein.

 

NEWS

 

In Wake of Georgian War, Russian Media Feel Heat

Washington Post (U.S.), Philip P. Pan, 15 Sep 2008

Summary: “The message to the 30 or so media executives at the gathering was clear: With Russia occupying parts of Georgia and locked in perhaps its most serious conflict with the West since the Cold War, they should be especially vigilant against reporting anything that the government might find objectionable.”

 

Record $47.9Bln Planned for Defense

The Moscow Times (RUS), 15 Sep 2008

Summary: Spending on arms will rise to a record $47.9 billion next year, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday, as the Kremlin moves to beef up the armed forces after a conflict in Georgia.

 

Georgia war sparks political battle in Ukraine

Los Angeles Times (U.S.), Megan K. Stack, 15 Sep 2008

Summary: “The war in Georgia is over. But the war over the war in Georgia rages unabated in Ukraine, the former Soviet state that, like Georgia, has drawn the wrath of Moscow by building ties with the West. The collapse of this country’s ruling coalition is widely expected to become official this week, the final gasp of a threadbare alliance that has barely hung together in recent months. The delicate balance was upended by a widening dispute over how to respond to a newly aggressive Russia.”

 

Putin fails to dispel doubts over Medvedev

Financial Times (UK), Stefan Wagstyl, 14 Sep 2008

Summary: “The key question for many Valdai guests was who really runs Russia. Mr Medvedev emphasised that, as commander-in-chief, he had called the shots in the Georgian crisis and Mr Putin said the same, commenting that “the buck stops with him”. However, the visitors were left with the same impression as most Russians, that Mr Putin takes the big decisions. In a telling remark, Mr Putin referred to Mr Medvedev as “a good guy”, using a Russian phrase that sounded more like a condescending term of endearment rather than a fitting label for the country’s president. In contrast, Mr Medvedev hardly mentioned Mr Putin, perhaps to avoid detracting from himself.”

 

Medvedev Guests Take Tough Message Home

The Moscow Time (RUS), Nabi Abdullaev, 15 Sep 2008

Summary: President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday in a meeting with a group of Western political and academic specialists on Russia that last month’s military conflict between Russia and Georgia demonstrated the current absence of a just international order.

 

 

Russian Troops Take Down Some Georgia Checkpoints

New York Times (U.S.), Dan Bilefsky, 13 Sep 2008

Summary: “Hundreds of Russian troops retreated from checkpoints across western Georgia on Saturday ahead of a deadline for their withdrawal brokered by the European Union…The partial pullout on Saturday was cautiously welcomed by the Georgian government, but was overshadowed here by news that a Georgian policeman was shot dead from the direction of a Russian position at a post in Ganmukhuri, a village near the separatist enclave of Abkhazia.”

 

NATO Chief Heads to Georgia

RIA Novosti (RUS), 15 Sep 2008

Summary: NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will arrive in Georgia on Monday, after making strong statements in support of Georgia that have been met with criticism from Russia.

 

NATO Envoys Will Offer Their Support in Georgia

New York Times (U.S.), Judy Dempsey, 14 Sep 2008

Summary: “Defying strong opposition from Russia, NATO’s 26 ambassadors will begin a two-day visit to Georgia on Monday in a move by the American-led military alliance aimed at showing support for the Georgian government, despite the risk of increasing tensions with the Kremlin €¦President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia warned last week that Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership would be a destabilizing factor for the Western alliance and in the volatile Caucasus.”

 

COMMENTARY

 

Three Hours with Vladimir Putin

The Russia Profile (RUS), Andrei Zolotov Jr., 12 Sep 2008

Summary: Speaking Thursday to the visiting group of Western experts and journalists, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vigorously defended Russia’s policy over the conflict in the Caucasus, and blamed the United States for pushing Georgia into a war. Yet the tone of his remarks signaled Russia’s willingness to continue engagement with the West, and not a turn to an overall confrontation heralded by numerous observers in the past weeks.

 

Kaukasische Gräben

Blätter fär deutsche und internationale Politik (Germany), Uwe Halbach, Issue 09/2008

Summary: In this commentary Uwe Halbach notes that although the current conflict in the Caucasus was the sixth war in the region since 1991, it has sent out shock waves like no other before, as Russia €“ for the first time €“ engaged in a military conflict with an independent neighboring country. He goes on to ask about the reasons for the war, and to discuss the implications for Georgia, Russia and the West.

 

Valdai Club Launches a Diplomatic Marathon

The RIA Novosti (RUS), 12 Sep 2008

Summary: We are currently witnessing the opening moves in a large-scale political game, that will probably last for months, aimed at building a new system of relations between Russia, the U.S. and EU. This is the conclusion to be drawn from the recent meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club in Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Moscow.

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