U.S. Abandoning Russia's Neighbors - July, 2010

The following are two very interesting political commentaries. One by a well known neoconservative official in Washington (David Kremer, Jewish-American by decent and one who naturally happens to be a Zionist, a Russophobe and a Turkophile) and the other by a senior political analyst for the CIA funded Radio Free Europe and the Jamestown Foundation, Vladimir Socor (Romanian-Jew by decent who also naturally happens to be a Zionist, a Russophobe, a Turophile - and also an Armenophobe). 

In their most recent articles, Socor and Kramer bitterly complain about what they perceive to be Washington's abandonment of Russia's neighbors. In other words, they are lamenting Washington's various geopolitical setbacks in Eurasia. Within his article, Sokor also, however, expresses optimism about Turkish-Georgian relations; which in my opinion is nothing but wishful thinking on his part. Nonetheless, the reason why I wanted to highlight these two articles as well as Hayk Babykhanyan's most recent comment (see the bottom of this page) is because I again want to emphasize what I have been saying for over two years now:

Washington has relinquished the political initiative in the Caucasus to Moscow. Thus, when official Yerevan stretched its hand out to Ankara in the spring of 2008 (while president Sargsyan was on a working visit to Moscow), the so-called "protocols" was ultimately a Russian agenda. As I have been saying for some time now - Russia is using Armenia as a reliable platform to project its might throughout the region in question. Moscow realizes that Armenia is its last regional front against American imperialism, NATO expansionism, pan-Turkism and Islamic fundamentalism. Thus, for Moscow, to toy with Armenia is to toy with Russia's future. Nevertheless, for the first time in nearly a thousand years Armenia today finds itself in a position where it actually enjoys favorable geopolitical conditions.
It's simply up to us Armenians now to exploit this unique climate for our fledgling republic's benefit. 


Since Georgia's crushing defeat during the summer of 2008, Washington seems to have reached some form of an understanding with Moscow. Not being privy to political insider information, we can only guess as to what this agreement entails. However, we can observe what is happening on the ground. While Kremlin officials have been successfully diverting the world's attention to Washington's numerous global problems, they have been unilaterally reshaping Eurasian politics for the past two years. Thus, all of the current political manifestations in the Caucasus and beyond, including Yerevan's political efforts with Ankara and the current negotiations regarding the status of Nagorno Karabakh are being conducted under the full auspices of the Kremlin.

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton or any other American politician for that matter, but no matter how one looks at it, her recent visit to Armenia where she payed a "private" visit to the genocide memorial is a significant development for Armenia. Armenia today has finally gotten on the political map. From Washington to Paris to London to Moscow to Ankara, as a result of recent geopolitical developments, our poor, small and embattled nation in the Caucasus is being taken seriously by major powers as of late. And despite what many of us Armenians think these days, this has all been made possible by the resurging power of Russia in the Caucasus and by president Sargsyan’s courageous and farsighted move last year when he started the political process with Ankara.

Arevordi


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U.S. Abandoning Russia's Neighbors

US President Barack Obama (L) shares a laugh with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev as they sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Prague on April 8, 2010. Obama and Medvedev signed a landmark treaty committing their nations to major nuclear arms cuts. Under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the former Cold War foes will be allowed a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, about 30 percent lower than a limit set in 2002. It also imposes limits on the air and submarine-borne intercontinental ballistic missiles that carry warheads.


Some 14 months ago on this page, I warned against a "grand bargain" between the United States and Russia as part of the Obama administration's reset efforts with Moscow ["No grand bargain," op-ed, March 6]. One concern then was that the administration would pursue a "Russia first" policy at the expense of Russia's neighbors. The problem, it appears, is actually worse: The administration seems to have moved toward a "Russia only" approach, neglecting and even abandoning other countries in the region. The most glaring example of this trend came this week. In a message accompanying the White House's resubmission to Congress of a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia, President Obama declared that the situation in Georgia "need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding" with congressional review of the agreement.

The Bush administration signed this "123" agreement in May 2008 but withdrew it from congressional consideration four months later, knowing it would be rejected in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Georgia that August. Russian forces continue to occupy separatist parts of Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement between the two countries and are constructing bases in both regions, which Moscow has recognized as independent states. The situation remains tense and could easily explode again.

It would be one thing to resubmit the 123 treaty noting that the United States still has serious disagreements with Russia over Georgia. Instead, by stating so baldly that the situation in Georgia is no longer an obstacle to advancing Russian-American relations, the administration is essentially abandoning the Georgians and giving Russia a green light to continue to engage in provocative behavior along its borders.

The Obama administration's interest in reviving the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty from which Russia suspended its compliance at the end of 2007 raises similar concerns. Despite efforts that the Bush administration led among NATO allies and other signatories of the treaty to accommodate Russian concerns, Moscow refused to comply with Istanbul Commitments, signed in 1999, in which Russia pledged to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova. Neither of those governments has given Russia consent to occupy parts of its territory, but the problem was made even worse after Russia's invasion of Georgia. Whereas before Russia had only one base left, Gudauta, from which to withdraw, it now has many more troops and munitions on the ground in Georgia (and there has been no movement on Russian troops from Moldova, either).

In the interest of removing irritating issues from its agenda with Moscow, will the Obama administration sell out Georgia and Moldova by dropping insistence on Russian withdrawal from those two countries? Or will it do the right thing, treat "host-country consent" as a sacrosanct principle and use efforts to revive the CFE Treaty as a mechanism to facilitate eventual Russian withdrawal from Georgia and Moldova?

Obama and other senior U.S. officials have repeatedly said they do not recognize a Russian "sphere of influence," but actions, or non-actions, speak louder than those words. Through its neglect of countries in the region except for Russia, the administration is ceding to Moscow exactly such a sphere. By some counts, Obama has spoken and met with his "friend and partner," President Dmitry Medvedev, more times than with any other leader, including on Thursday. He should use those occasions to lay down clear markers that Russian aggression toward and occupation of its neighbors are unacceptable. He also should start making "friends and partners" elsewhere in the region. Some of these leaders aren't the easiest to get along with, nor are they poster children for democracy and human rights -- but then again, neither are Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The writer is a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/14/AR2010051404496_pf.html


Turkey a Source of Strategic Reinsurance for Georgia


Following recent miscalculations regarding Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Armenia, US policy in the South Caucasus also suffers from an erosion of credibility with regard to Georgia. A recent spate of commentaries in US mainstream media has taken cognizance of Washington's and NATO's de facto strategic disengagement from the wider region, in favor of a Russia-first or even "Russia-only" approach (David Kramer, "US Abandoning Russia's Neighbors," Washington Post, May 15; Judy Dempsey, "East Europe Feels Ignored by NATO," New York Times, May 16; Charles Krauthammer, "The Fruits of Weakness," Washington Post, May 21). To Georgian observers outside the government, those analyses confirm a trend that Georgian policy planners were already following with concern. More recently, Russia's seemingly unopposed bid for control of Ukraine has compounded Georgian concerns about US and NATO capacity to fill the security vacuum in the Black Sea-South Caucasus region.

On May 11, the US White House informed Congress that the Russia-Georgia conflict "need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding" with ratification of the 2008 US-Russia agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation. Thus far, Russia's incorporation and militarization of Abkhazia and South Ossetia had been deemed just such an obstacle. The White House could have chosen to argue that Georgia and the nuclear agreement are intrinsically unrelated and ought to be de-linked, even if US disagreements with Russia over Georgia (and the wide-reaching implications of that conflict) remain unresolved. Instead, the White House seems to have shifted without explanation from the position that it seriously disagrees with Russia over Georgia, to a new position of brushing that issue aside.

In his recent, "government-hour" replies to the Russian Duma, Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, felt confident enough to dismiss the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Charter (signed in January 2009) as a dead letter and a relic of past US policies (Interfax, May 13).

The situation with the NATO-Georgia Commission could be characterized in a similar vein. Created in the fall of 2008 to demonstrate NATO's commitment to its open-door policy (at least in terms of mentoring, if not accession), the commission has nevertheless failed to stipulate programs, goals, and time-tables that would open a realistic prospect for Georgian accession to the Alliance in the future. Such aloofness contrasts with Georgia's commitment of almost 1,000 combat troops for US and NATO operations in Afghanistan -the highest number among troop-committing nations in per capita terms, and exceptionally without restrictions ("national caveats") in Georgia's case. Georgian forces remaining in the country, however, are unarmed and untrained for conventional defense of the homeland. While the French-proposed sale of warships to Russia has received a free pass from NATO, Georgia is subject to a de facto embargo on defensive arms (anti-tank, air defense) by the US and NATO countries. All this adds to Georgia's sense of exposure and apparent relegation to a grey zone of insecurity for some time to come. The government has thus far responded by reaffirming its Euro-Atlantic commitments. While these remain irreversible, Tbilisi is embarking on a more active regional policy, as a form of reinsurance against persistent security risks.

On May 17, President Mikheil Saakashvili welcomed Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Batumi, one day after the signing of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil nuclear fuel swap agreement, which has obviated the US push for economic sanctions against Iran. The Turkish government had all along opposed sanctions, playing the key role in brokering the nuclear fuel swap agreement, and has assumed co-responsibility for its implementation. Saakashvili conferred a Georgian state award (Order of the Golden Fleece) to Erdogan for his "historic act of diplomatic heroism. We were all anxious, as our fate depends on what happens around Iran's nuclear program. Brazilian president Lula [da Silva] and Erdogan, who for many months had been saying that there was a chance for talks, but were largely disbelieved, went nevertheless to Tehran, effectively saving and turning around the situation concerning Iran's nuclear program. A great diplomatic victory also for Iran, Europe, America, the world, our region as well as Turkey, and of course this is about peace for Georgia" (Imedi TV, May 17).

Thus, Tbilisi has breathed a deep sigh of relief after Erdogan's mission to Tehran. From Georgia's perspective, the Turkish-Brazilian mediation has (at least temporarily) averted a critical round of bargaining over Iran sanctions in the UN Security Council. This had given rise to concerns about the US sacrificing its own long-term strategic interests in this region while seeking Russian support for sanctions against Iran (the top item on a list of US and NATO solicitations from Moscow). While Russia stonewalls and bargains over the sanctions, the US and NATO seem to have practically desisted from the role of security actors in the South Caucasus. This is increasingly regarded as an implicit, preemptive concession, which Moscow might interpret as a free hand, and possibly test it (Georgian Daily, May 20). Such concerns are shared in varying degrees by a number of countries, within and outside the NATO alliance. Georgia, however, is the most exposed to Russian exploitation of US and NATO predicaments over Iran and other conflicts.

Erdogan's visit to Georgia, however, occasioned an upbeat review of increasingly close Georgian-Turkish ties. Turkey has become Georgia's number one foreign trade partner, moving into the gap left by the Russian economic blockade. Turkey built the Tbilisi and Batumi international airports (the latter being operated jointly by Georgia and Turkey) and has just completed the construction of a Sheraton hotel in Batumi. The two countries recorded approximately two million border-crossing visits by their citizens in 2009, and plan to cancel passport requirements for travel between the two countries in 2010 (Rustavi-2 TV, Civil Georgia, May 17, 18). Turkey is interested in providing transit service for additional volumes of Caspian oil and gas to European countries, relying on the Georgian transit route. Turkey and Azerbaijan are building and financing the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway, which will connect Georgia with Europe through Turkey. The Azeri government is financing the railroad's Georgia section with soft loans, after the US government bowing to Armenian advocacy groups pulled Eximbank out of that project.

Source: http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=58680


ARMENIAN POLITICIAN: RUSSIAN AND THE UNITED STATES HAVE FOUND A COMMON LANGUAGE IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS


As a result of "restart" of relations between Russia and the United States, these powers have agreed their positions in the South Caucasus, Chairman of the Constitutional Law Union Party Hayk Babukhanyan said at today's press conference. According to him, the core of the agreement reached is that the specified region is the "zone of influence" of Russia; on the other hand, Moscow reckons with Washington's interests connected with the transit of energy resources. Babukhanyan also thinks that the period of "color revolutions" in the post-Soviet area and the NATO expansion to the East have completed, and at the moment the process of the CIS countries' consolidation is going on according to Europe's example. Moreover, he said that Washington will not hinder the consolidation of the CIS countries, which is going on under Moscow's "patronage". "It is much better for the USA to see Russians in Middle Asia than various Islamic movements which threaten both the USA and Russia",- he stressed.

Source: http://www.arminfo.info/index.php?show=article&id=22301

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me because I had no assistance from anywhere. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside urged me to keep going; and I did. When Armenia joined the EEU and integrated into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago I finally felt a deep sense of relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my back. And when Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan reemerged in Armenian politics, I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back as I really needed the rest.

Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the internal urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal.

Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say anything if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however moderate the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what readers of this blog have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments. To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself.

Please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Posts in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics. Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you for reading.