Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Cold War reheated as U.S. and Russia duke it out over Georgia

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

The temperature at the United Nations Security Council hasn’t been this high in years — and it’s not because the U.N. management raised the thermostat slightly to cut electricity costs. It’s due to the heated exchange of insults and accusations between Russia and the United States, which has reached a fever pitch reminiscent of the Cold War years.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Russia on Sunday of using the Georgian incursion into Georgia’s breakaway enclave of South Ossetia as an excuse for a massive military assault against its tiny pro-Western neighbor whose ultimate goal is “regime change” in Tbilisi. He also assailed Moscow for waging a “campaign of terror” against the civilian population of Georgia, a former Soviet republic.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin shot back that regime change is an “American invention” and suggested it was hypocritical of Washington to talk about attacks on civilians in light of what it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia. Churkin said Russia is only trying to defend its peacekeepers and protect civilians from Georgian “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” in South Ossetia, a small pro-Moscow province that threw off Tbilisi’s rule in the 1990s and has been managed by Russian troops since.

There’s a subtext to this dispute and it isn’t just the U.S. and European support for the declaration of independence of Kosovo, a former breakaway region of Serbia that seceded in February. Serbia and its ally Russia were both enraged by what they saw as an unjustified tearing away of a large chunk of Serbian territory in violation of international law. (Of course, the Georgian separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia — another Georgian breakaway region — took notice.)

Was South Ossetia’s fate sealed in Kosovo?

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south-ossetia.jpgIs Kosovo to blame for the fighting in South Ossetia?

When the Serbian province seceded from Belgrade in February, South Ossetia was quick to reassert its own claim to international recognition.

As a spokeswoman for separatist leader Eduard Kokoity told Reuters at the time: “The Kosovo precedent has driven us to more actively seek our rights.”

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