Monday, August 8, 2011

RUSSIA, SOUTH OSSETIA, GEORGIA: THREE YEARS AFTER THE FIVE DAYS



The European Union has officially recognized Georgian as a culprit of the armed conflict, having held it responsible for the attack at Tskhinvali. Then, all of a sudden, three years after the U.S. Senate passes on a resolution, accusing Russia of the occupation of Georgia, clearly referring to the sovereign Abkhazian and South Ossetian territories, where Russian troops are stationed in a strict accordance to the bilateral agreements with these countries. Meanwhile, the thought to accuse Americans of occupying Serbia due to the fact of deployment of the largest American military base Kosovo hasn’t occurred even to the most radical critics of the USA yet.



Exactly three years passed since the moment of terrible events in South Ossetia. Perhaps, for the first time in the contemporary Russian history, we were proud for the country, where we were born and grew up in again. Russian army has once again saved a small fraternal nation from extermination — the way it did in 1877, saving Bulgarians from the Turkish yoke, and the way it did in 1945, saving Europe from the yoke of fascism.
In an interview, dedicated to this notorious anniversary, Dmitry Medvedev said the following phrase: “I’m not ashamed of the decision I’ve made in August of 2008”. I would’ve put it differently: “I would’ve been ashamed, if I hadn’t made these decisions”. Unfortunately, the South Ossetian events have also highlighted certain negative features of Russia — starting with an unreadiness of the rear services for a sudden start of the warfare to an unreadiness of certain diplomats to meet the enemy face-to-face. Not all of our media sources looked decently in August of 2008 either. However, today it would be more appropriate reviewing the current state of affairs, connected to the consequences of the 08.08.08 war.
For the second time for last few years we’ve faced an impossibility to maintain normal relationship with a neighboring state because of the lack of contact at the top level. The first country was Poland — its President Lech KaczyƄski suffered from acute attacks of Russophobia. In case of Georgia the situation looks a bit different. Dmitry Medvedev is unwilling to meet Mikheil Saakashvili because he considers him a criminal, guilty of deaths of thousands innocent people. This is not a matter of personal enmity, but rather a matter of prestige of the country that Russian President represents.
If we try to briefly describe the present state of Russo-Georgian relations, we may do it with a single word — “auction”. Having sensed an opportunity to reap some profits from giving its consent for the Russian entry to the WTO, Georgia announced an auction for the indemnification of the “moral damage”. The first attempt that addressed Russia has already been made. The restoration of the Russo-Georgian customs border at the territory of the sovereign Abkhazia and South Ossetia was made the condition for our WTO entry.
The Saakashvili’s image of existence of the Georgian customs posts at the bridge over the Psou River and Roki tunnel is unclear. Besides from the apparent legal impossibility of this project, the practical aspect remains. Who is to be responsible for the safety of Georgian customs officers at the territories of frankly hostile republics? Abkhazians and Ossetians will hardly approve of the presence of the Georgian officers at their territory, as long as Georgia has murdered thousands of their citizens. The bargain is hardly appropriate here. Saakashvili’s left with a hope to negotiate some discount loan from the USA in exchange for his signature under the WTO protocol. However, after the recent close escape from the default, Obama hardly has an opportunity to “feed up” his insatiable Caucasian ally. Therefore, Saakashvili will have to either be content with Russian promises to restore the trade and economic relations of two countries, or demonstrate “the adherence to his principles” and, having pulled the belt, comfort himself that he prevented Russia from entering the WTO.
Having lost the first stage of the information war for South Ossetia, Russia still succeeded standing its grounds at the global arena. Accusations of aggressions against a defenseless Georgia, which Russia was lavished with in the first months after the war, were replaced with the better weighed-up estimates of the events of August of 2008. The European Union has officially recognized Georgian as a culprit of the armed conflict, having held it responsible for the attack at Tskhinvali. Then, all of a sudden, three years after the U.S. Senate passes on a resolution, accusing Russia of the occupation of Georgia, clearly referring to the sovereign Abkhazian and South Ossetian territories, where Russian troops are stationed in a strict accordance to the bilateral agreements with these countries. Meanwhile, the thought to accuse Americans of occupying Serbia due to the fact of deployment of the largest American military base Kosovo hasn’t occurred even to the most radical critics of the USA yet.
Tough response of the Russian President to this hostile act caused an inadequate reaction back in the United States. On the 5th of August, New York Times even published an article of Helen Barry, who criticized the interview of Dmitry Medvedev, who claimed that the resolution reflects the subjective likings of certain U.S. Senators and that he doesn’t care about the resolutions of the foreign parliaments. I believe that I have to explain his words about subjective likings of American politicians.
Former Obama’s rival at the presidential elections, Senator John McCain used to be and still remains the greatest lobbyist of Georgian interests in the USA.As far back as during the pre-election months of 2008 he accused Obama of neglecting Georgian interests:
“Obama’s reaction to the crisis indicates that he’s not going the same way as our allies, but he’s concordant with Moscow on every other matter”.
Obama’s staff responded with a shattering blow. It issued an official press-release, reporting the McCain’s senior aide on Russia — Randy Scheunemann — is a generously paid Georgian lobbyist. That’s not it, though. An attempt to find out who this Scheunemann actually is, led to quite curious results. We may hardly surprise anyone with the fact that he’s a former Donald Rumsfeld’s aide, chair of the Iraqi Liberation Committee and an active neo-conservative AEI functionary. People, whom he, so to say, befriends informally, are of much greater interest. Looking deeper into the matter of Scheunemann’s friends led us to such an odious person as Stephen Payne.
Payne got famous in July of 2008, when he fetched himself in the spotlight of The Sunday Times journalist investigation. Well-known lobbyist and owner of the Worldwide Strategic Partners, which renders aid on “establishment of diplomatic and commercial relations with the U.S. government for the sake of realization of international business-projects in the energetics sphere” (quotation from the company web-site), he became a hero of the movie, shot with a hidden camera. He named his prices for organizing meetings with the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and State Secretary Condoleezza Rice right “into the camera”. I’ll tell you this, the prices are stiff to pay. Payne charged $750.00 for Cheney and merely $600.000 for Madam Rice (and they keep telling you that Moscow is the most expensive city). At that, he claimed that he and Scheunemann “are on the same payroll”, as he put it. Let’s try to collect a simple puzzle of the three following facts now:
1. Georgia is a subsidized region of Washington; it lives for the money of American taxpayers.
2. McCain’s aid, Scheunemann, is on the payroll of the Georgian government, i.e. on American payroll.
3. Scheunemann and Payne peddle the audiences of Cheney and Rice, while McCain protects Saakashvili “up to the last bullet”.
I believe that Russian readers will have no troubles drawing a conclusion from the above-mentioned references: it’s a classical kickback, painfully familiar scheme for each of us.
I don’t know whether these were the circumstances that Russian President referred to as the “subjective likings”, but they are, this wording should be considered more than correct.
What’s next, what lies ahead for Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russo-Georgian relations? In the foreseeable future Abkhazia will apparently remain an independent state. South Ossetia will likely drift north, i.e. towards Russia. This is only natural — a country with a population of 70 thousand people can hardly retain its sovereignty in the modern world. This, however, is hardly an issue of the moment. The advancement of the Russian border to merely 120 kilometers from Tbilisi, though, is a serious matter indeed. Moscow-Tbilisi relation, however, will depend upon the person of a politician, heading Georgia after the following Presidential elections and the configuration of the political reform in the country, where Saakashvili’s preparing a “parliament revolution”, which would help him to keep the power, having switched his shape to a Prime Minister. Anyhow, Georgia means a lot for Russia, and no matter how hard will it be, we’ll have to build our relations from the scratch step by step, keeping our common history and friendly traditions in mind.

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