Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Devil went down to Georgia

Ian Black and Ian Traynor report on the fallout of Russia's offensive into Georgia.

[While] the Kremlin is celebrating an apparent win-win [in Georgia], much of the world has been appalled at Russia's invasion of a small defenceless neighbour. How will the west respond?

Obama has talked of blocking Russia's ambition to join the World Trade Organisation. There have been calls to throw Russia out of the G8. Some of the former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe now in the EU are calling on Brussels to freeze negotiations with Moscow on a new long-term partnership pact.

But with a surfeit of petro-dollars in the bank and its fingers on the energy valves that keep Europe warm, the Kremlin appears blithely contemptuous of any potential western retribution. Relations between Russia and the west are already poor and will worsen further, but there are unlikely to be any concrete penalties.

"What can have an impact on the Russians without damaging us more than them," asked one of the European officials....

[I]n April at a Nato summit when George Bush argued strongly for starting Georgia towards [NATO] alliance membership and was defeated by Angela Merkel of Germany and Sarkozy of France.

"This is the first time ever that an American president's request was rejected because France and Germany stuck together," said a senior source at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

In a tough statement yesterday, John McCain said the Nato rebuff to Georgia "might have been viewed as a green light by Russia for its attacks on Georgia. I urge the Nato allies to revisit the decision."

But the French and the Germans feel vindicated in rejecting Georgia and are unlikely to bend.

"A country that has such problems and is led by a hot-headed militant does not belong in Nato," said [Alexander Rahr, Russia expert at Germany's Council on Foreign Relations] in Berlin. "It could take the whole alliance hostage and start the third world war." |Georgian conflict leaves west reeling and Russia walking tall - Guardian|
Thank goodness that Merkel and Sarkozy are smarter than Bush.

I feel bad for the Georgian civilians killed, inured or disposessed in this brush war, but the Georgian president poked the Russian bear and received a totally predictable mauling for it.

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