Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

A year later and there is still no clear winner from the Georgia-Russia war

Photo

The debate still rages over which side came out of the August 7-12, 2008 war better.

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.

A fresh start with Russia: what’s the trade-off?

Photo

Russia has reversed its decision to station missiles in the Western outpost of Kaliningrad, next door to the European Union, according to Interfax.

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).

Russia-Ukraine row: up close and personal

Photo

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 Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

Photo

The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)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.

Georgia’s day of prayer: who can save country now?

Photo

Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili speaks during his televised address in Tbilisi, August, 26, 2008. Saakashvili rejected as “completely illegal” a Russian decision on Tuesday to recognise Georgia’s two rebel regions as independent states.At the security checkpoint on the way in to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s chancellery building, two small posters are displayed.    

“Stop Russia,” says the first. The second is a quotation from British World War Two leader Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

Fears of conflict as tensions rise around the Black Sea

Photo

The US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is seen docked at the Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi August 27, 2008. The US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas unloaded aid hygiene kits and baby food for the tens of thousands displaced by the confrontation that erupted on Aug. 7-8 over Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region.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.

What’s next in the Russia-West crisis over Georgia?

Photo

South Ossetian servicemen fire their weapons and wave South Ossetian (C) and Russian flags as they celebrate Russia's recognition of their state as an independent state in Tskhinvali August 26, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Tuesday that Moscow had decided to recognise two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states, setting it on a collision course with the West. REUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinThe 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. 

What Russia wants: lessons from the 19th century

Photo

Russian tanks in N. Ossetia after crossing from S. Ossetia/Sergei KarpukhinRussia’s bear-paw swipe at Georgia has got many people drawing comparisons with the Cold War, but personally I like to look for parallels in the 19th century.

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.  

Is the American dream over for Georgia and Ukraine?

Photo

Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili (L) welcomes his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko as he arrives for the GUAM summit in the Black Sea city of Batumi July 1, 2008When thousands in the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the Georgian capital Tbilisi overthrew Soviet-style rulers, many felt warm in the embrace of the West.

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.

Poles see U.S. missile shield as insurance. Are they right?

Photo

warsaw.jpg

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.

  •