Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
It’s true that Russia crushed Georgia’s army when it stepped in to help South Ossetian rebels but its forceful reaction to the Georgian attempt to retake rebel held areas scared its European partners and isolated the country. Only Nicaragua followed Moscow and recognised both South Ossetia and another breakaway region Abkhazia as independent states after the war.
And despite an overwhelming military victory, the war also showed up technological and organisational deficiencies in Russia’s army.
For Georgia, the unsuccessful war dented its reputation as a reliable and steady ally for the West in the notoriously unstable South Caucasus. It also slowed President Mikheil Saakashvili’s NATO ambitions and undermined his popularity at home.
The move would be the clearest signal so far of the start of a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations, which could be one of the major changes in U.S. President Barack Obama’s first year in office. We don’t know what commitment, if any, Obama may have given to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the missile shield (the two spoke by telephone earlier this week).
Could it be that the gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev broke out because Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin felt personally slighted by his Ukrainian opposite number, Yulia Tymoshenko?
It may seem far-fetched that two countries would risk leaving half of Europe without gas over something so apparently petty. But a look at the sequence of events that led up to this crisis suggests there just might be something in it.
Rewind back to Oct. 2, and Tymoshenko is meeting Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. It is a lodge in forested parkland where, as a rule, he only invites people on whom he wants to make a good impression.
The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Russia is sending a heavily armed nuclear-powered cruiser and other ships, aircraft and troops for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first big manoeuvres in the United States’ self-declared backyard since the end of the Cold War.
“Stop Russia,” says the first. The second is a quotation from British World War Two leader Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”
Tension is mounting around the Black Sea following Russia’s recognition of two Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independent states.
Russia said its navy was monitoring ”the build-up of NATO forces in the Black Sea area” as the U.S. Navy shipped humanitarian supplies to Georgia on Wednesday.
The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were celebrating on Tuesday after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognising the independence of the two regions.
Western leaders responded with harsh words. U.S. President George W. Bush said it increased world tensions and Britain called for “the widest possible coalition against Russian aggression in Georgia,” where the two regions lie.
At the time the faultlines between Russian and British imperial interests ran from the Balkans through the Crimea and the Caucasus to Central Asia and Afghanistan. That is remarkably similar to some of the faultlines creating upheavals today.
Western support for the opposition — open and behind the scenes – helped many people overcome fear of Soviet-style reprisals to stand for days outside Georgia’s parliament in 2003 or to pitch orange tents on Kiev’s main thoroughfare in late 2004, providing a lasting image of “people power” overthrowing a stale leadership.
It is hard not to view Poland’s decision to accept the U.S. missile shield in the context of tensions over Georgia – a point Russia, which loathes the project, was quick to make.
And although Warsaw and Washington dismiss the idea and diplomats say a compromise on the long-negotiated deal was hammered out before Russia’s intervention in the Caucasus, there is no smoke without fire.