Saakashvili Lashed at Russia for World Order Revision - May, 2008

This is interesting. According to the Eurasia Daily Monitor, a publication of a very influential American Think Tank called The Jamestown Foundation, the Armenian Republic belongs in a group of nations that "have been involved in ethnic cleansing operations" and "side(s) habitually with Russia"... Placed in this context, Armenia somehow reminds me of Serbia and Azeris remind me of Albanians... In that case, what's stopping these butt-wipes in Washington from bombing Yerevan or Stepanakert in an attempt to "save" the endangered Azeris from total annihilation? After all, isn't that what they did with Albanians in Kosovo? What's stopping the forces of "freedom" and "democracy" from setting up a massive military base in Stepanakert to protect Azeris, as they did in Kosovo to protect Albanians? Whether we Armenians like it or not, whether we see it or not, the reason why Armenia has not been bombed into submission or invaded is the Russian Federation's military presence in the Caucasus region. Nonetheless, Armenian-Americans need to wake-the-hell-up and realize that top officials in Washington simply see Armenia as an obstacle/problem in the Caucasus. I would hate to imagine what would of happened had the Armenian Republic found itself without its Moscow's protective umbrella.




May, 2008

On May 15 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Georgian resolution recognizing the right of expellees to return to Georgia’s Abkhazia region. The voting was 14 countries in favor, 11 against, and 105 abstaining, with another 63 countries not voting. Adoption of the resolution puts the General Assembly on record as calling for a reversal of ethnic cleansing in the case of Abkhazia and potentially further afield. The arithmetic of the vote, however, shows feeble international support for pursuing the issue. Russia and Armenia led the opposition to the resolution. “Deploring practices of arbitrary forced displacement [such as the] expulsion of hundreds of thousands of persons from Abkhazia, Georgia,” the resolution cites several times “the reports of ‘ethnic cleansing’” from that region since 1994.

The resolution enshrined for the first time a set of principles that Georgia and its supporters had long advocated as a basis for resolving this conflict. First, it “recognizes the right of return of all refugees and internally displaced persons and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity, to Abkhazia, Georgia.” Second, it “emphasizes the importance of preserving the property rights of refugees and internally displaced persons … and calls upon all member states [read: Russia] to deter persons under their jurisdiction from obtaining property in Abkhazia, Georgia, in violation of the rights of refugees.” And third, it “underlines the urgent need for a rapid development of a timetable to ensure the prompt voluntary return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.”

Concurrently “emphasizing that the rights of the Abkhaz population have to be protected and guaranteed,” a point included in Georgia’s draft from the outset, the resolution “requests” the UN Secretary-General to report comprehensively on the implementation of this resolution at next year’s session of the General Assembly. In the debate before the vote, Georgia’s UN envoy Irakli Alasania reminded the Assembly of the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of people of Georgian and other ethnicities from Abkhazia, their growing despair, and the unlawful seizure of the homes and property they had to leave behind. Alluding to Russia’s role, he said that the conflict was an “example of how externally generated conflicts have been maintained in a frozen situation to subdue the people of Georgia.” He reaffirmed Georgia’s proposals for autonomy and direct talks with the de facto Abkhaz authorities. The European Union failed to adopt a common position.

Nine member countries, including eight new ones and Sweden, joined the United States to vote for the Georgian-proposed resolution. That European group coincides approximately with the New Group of Friends of Georgia, which has come into its own since 2007. Up to 17 EU member countries (all the “old” ones except Sweden) abstained from voting. Speaking for those countries, Germany, France, and Italy claimed that the UN Security Council traditionally dealt with this conflict, thus implying that a General Assembly debate was redundant. Beyond procedural arguments, however, Germany objected to the resolution’s content. It claimed that the document “ignored many other aspects of the situation,” i.e., that it did not reflect Russian views. Germany spoke in its capacity as chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Group of Friends of Georgia (Russia, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany). This group operates (when it does at all) based on consensus with Russia, thereby making it dysfunctional, while in this case providing Germany with an excuse to take the position it does.

Turkey also abstained, while calling on “all parties to pursue a peaceful resolution” and expressing its readiness “to assist in that effort.” Indeed Turkey, home to significant Abkhaz and related Circassian communities, seems well-placed for a mediating role in Abkhazia. Nevertheless, for many years Turkey has passed up this opportunity to gain regional influence. All of the abstaining countries that spoke in this debate endorsed Georgia’s territorial integrity, and some of them paid lip service to the expellees’ right of return; but they fell short of even a symbolic vote for the resolution. Azerbaijan and Ukraine strongly supported the resolution. Azerbaijan implicitly drew a parallel between the ethnic cleansing from Abkhazia and from parts of Azerbaijan’s own territory. Deploring any acceptance of ethnic cleansing in the South Caucasus, it called for the refugees’ return to their homes as an indispensable basis for resolving the conflicts. For its part, Ukraine traced the conflict in Abkhazia to its roots in Soviet policies; “the Russian Federation continued that notorious tradition by inserting separatism into the GUAM region.”

Moldova, the other member of the GUAM group (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) broke ranks in abstaining from the vote. The Moldovan president and government hope to earn Russia’s goodwill for a resolution of the Transnistria conflict sometime in 2008, ahead of Moldova’s elections. Moldova could have chosen to be absent from the vote (as did the U.S.-protected governments of Iraq and Afghanistan in deserting the United States on this vote), but chose to abstain in an explicit bow to Russia. Russia criticized the resolution for “destabilizing UN activities in settling the conflict” and “leading to a deterioration of Georgian-Abkhaz relations,” without explaining these assertions. It described the problem as one between Georgia and Abkhazia, not between Georgia and Russia, a claim that seeks to put an Abkhaz face on the Russian military’s 1994 ethnic cleansing operation in Abkhazia. And it made the refugees’ return conditional on a comprehensive political resolution of the conflict, even as Moscow stonewalls any resolution that would not put Russia in control.

Joining with Russia to excuse ethnic cleansing was an unusual constellation of countries: Armenia, Belarus, North Korea, India, Iran, Myanmar, Serbia, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. Some of these have themselves been involved in ethnic cleansing operations; some of them side habitually with Russia; and some of them qualify on both counts. From the last group, Armenia had campaigned against inclusion of the resolution on the General Assembly’s agenda. Like Russia, it clearly implied that the expellees’ return to their homes was contingent on a political resolution acceptable to both sides or, in other words, it should be left at the discretion of the cleansing side. Armenia had also tried unsuccessfully to block discussion on an Azerbaijani-drafted resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which passed last year in the General Assembly.


In related news:

Saakashvili Lashed at Russia for World Order Revision

Abkhazia downs two more Georgian spy planes:

Russia’s actions in the conflict regions of Georgia are the aggressive attempt to revise Europe’s and world order, said Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili. It is the most aggressive attempt to do it after the end of the cold war, Saakashvili specified. The world community won’t swallow deployment of illegal foreign contingent, the shift of weapons there, the attempts to explode the situation, Saakashvili threatened, pledging that Georgia will take definite legal and political steps, coordinating them with its friends and ensuring strong support and response. When speaking of global support, Saakashvili evidently meant Washington. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, for instance, doubted the need of stationing such sophisticated military hardware to ensure peace in the region and urged Russia to withdraw additional military forces from Abkhazia. Russia’s Foreign Ministry rebuffed by calling Bryza’s statement at least ill-defined. “It should be stated that M. Bryza shows the lack of knowledge of the real situation and events in the conflict area, and choosing my words carefully, his judgment as a result had little in common with reality,” said the ministry’s spokesman Boris Malakhov. In the RF Foreign Ministry, they emphasized the absence of any military component in the actions of Russia, saying that the matter at stake is exclusively the protection of social and economic and humanitarian interests of Abkhazia’s residents, which the government of Georgia has failed to ensure for over 15 years.


Russia claims capture of Georgian spy

Russia said Friday it had captured a Georgian spy allegedly operating in southern Russia to destabilise the region, as tensions mounted between Moscow and its pro-Western neighbour. Georgia immediately rejected the Russian claims as "absurd." Russian news agencies quoted unnamed sources in the FSB security service as saying they had captured a 34-year-old who had been living in southern Russia's war-torn Chechyna region and recruiting among insurgent groups and the security forces. "An agent has been exposed, a Russian citizen, a native of Georgia," an FSB source told Interfax, adding that the capture "confirms the involvement of Georgian secret services in disruptive terrorist activity in the North Caucasus." The claim comes as tensions between Georgia and Russia have dramatically escalated, centring on the Russian-backed separatist regions in Georgia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Interfax source said the suspect's work was "to organise contacts between Georgian secret services and active members of illegal armed groups on Russian territory" in order to provide financing and "organise armed resistance."

The source also claimed the suspect had links with the remote Pankisi mountain gorge on Georgia's side of the two countries' border, a place Russia has long insisted is an insurgent hideout. "For fulfilling his tasks the agent several times received financial rewards from Georgia's special services in American dollars. Some of these were handed over in personal meetings, some by ... money transfer," the source said. The claims were rejected by Georgia's interior ministry. "It is an absurd accusation. Russia's provocations are becoming more and more aggressive," Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told AFP. Tensions between Russia and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili have risen as Georgia pursues membership of the NATO military alliance and tries to retake control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tbilisi and Moscow have traded spying accusations before, notably in September 2006, when Georgia arrested four Russian alleged spies. Last month Russia announced it was establishing formal ties with Georgia's separatist regions, even though it claims to recognise Georgia's territorial integrity.

On Friday a policeman was injured in one of two explosions in South Ossetia, local media reported, prompting angry reactions by Georgia's defence ministry and the South Ossetian leadership. "It's clear that the separatists are turning to terrorist methods," Georgian Deputy Defence Minister Batu Kutelia said. The separatist administration blamed "terrorists" it said were trying to discredit it. In Abkhazia, Moscow this month announced an increase in its peacekeeping force, long seen as giving de facto backing to the rebels. Abkhaz separatists claim to have recently shot down Georgian reconnaissance drones. Georgia has denied those claims, saying that just one drone has been destroyed by a Russian fighter jet. Underlying the disputes is Saakashvili's drive to join NATO, a move strongly opposed by Russia. Georgia's minister for reintegration of separatist territories, Temur Yakobashvili, said during a visit to Moscow that peace negotiations should be expanded to include international bodies, including the European Union. At present Russia is the main outside power in Georgia's separatist conflicts. "The presence of the Russian side is indispensable but Russia should not have an exclusive right," Yakobashvili said at a press conference. "It's been the only one to participate in recent years and look what happened." He said that Moscow's reaction to the proposal was "negative." He denied a Russian press report that Georgia wanted Russia to host a peace conference.


Blasts rock Georgia-South Ossetia conflict zone

Three separate blasts have gone off near the unofficial border between Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia. A Georgian policeman is reported to have been injured in one incident. A bomb exploded meters away from a moving column of Georgian military vehicles. It's believed that the bomb was detonated by remote control. The incident took place near the village of Eredvi, which is not far from Tskhinvali, the capital of the de facto independent republic. The officer was taken to hospital and is said to be in a serious condition. Earlier, a blast went off near a school, damaging the building. A local news agency claims that a third blast occurred in a field, injuring a passer-by. The South Ossetian authorities have called the incidents a 'provocation.' The republic proclaimed independence from Tbilisi in the 1990s, which led to a military conflict. After the ceasefire, Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian peacekeepers have been patrolling the unofficial border.


Air Force Chief Backs Abkhazia Base

Air Force chief Alexander Zelin said Thursday that he favored establishing a military base in Georgia's separatist Abkhazia region, in remarks likely to spike already-high tensions between the countries. Abkhazia's separatist president, Sergei Bagapsh, said this week that he would like a Russian base in the region. Zelin said he approved of the idea. "If a political decision is made on this score, this would be to the benefit of fulfilling the tasks of air defense," Zelin said, RIA-Novosti reported. Georgia's Foreign Ministry responded by denouncing Zelin's words as "irresponsible" and warning that such a move would violate international law. Zelin also said Air Force fighter planes and other air-defense elements would be involved in ensuring security at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Krasnodar region just a few kilometers north of Abkhazia. It was unclear whether he was seeking to justify Russian bases in Abkhazia as necessary for Olympic security. But military analyst Leonid Ivashov, a retired top general noted for nationalistic views, made the connection explicit. "Russia is certainly interested in a military presence in that region ... it would help provide security during the Olympic Games," he said, Interfax reported. Moscow and Tbilisi each accuse the other side of preparing for aggression in Abkhazia, and concerns are high that the tensions are so aggravated that a small incident could touch off new fighting in the region that has had de facto independence since a 1990s secessionist war. Russia maintains peacekeeping troops there and has boosted their numbers in recent weeks, saying it aims to protect Russian citizens from alleged Georgian plans to seize control of Abkhazia by force. Georgia alleges that Russia is preparing to annex Abkhazia.


Abkhazia and Russia’s Krasnodar territory signed a cooperation agreement

Abkhazia and Russia’s Krasnodar territory signed a cooperation agreement at the Gagra meeting of Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh and Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov. The governor and OlympStroi head Viktor Kolodyazhny are now visiting Sukhumi. The sides discussed the economy of the unrecognized republic and preparations for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. It is much more profitable to supply construction materials to Sochi from Abkhazia, which is only 30-40 kilometers away, than from Russian regions located at the distance of 200-300 kilometers, Tkachyov said. “We will gladly implement this agreement and concentrate on sea and railroad supplies from Abkhazia to Sochi,” he said. In the governor’s words, the supplies will start two or three months from now and amount to about 100 million tonnes.


Georgia notifies CIS of withdrawal from air defense agreement

Georgia's Foreign Ministry has announced its withdrawal from a 1995 CIS unified air defense agreement signed by a number of former Soviet republics, including Russia. Tbilisi officially notified the Foreign Ministry of Belarus, as the depository of the document, of its decision on Wednesday. Georgia will cease to comply with the agreement 12 months after Belarus receives the notification. The CIS is an alliance of former Soviet republics and the unified air defense system includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. The Georgian ministry officially notified Russia on May 5 that it would withdraw from a bilateral air defense agreement of April 19, 1995. A Georgian deputy defense minister said earlier his country saw no practical benefit from the treaty with Moscow. The move came amid rising military tensions between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia has said that Georgia is planning a military operation in the republics, while the international community has expressed concern over Russia's buildup of peacekeeping troops in the disputed areas. Georgia had previously withdrawn from the CIS Defense Ministers Council, although it formally remained in the CIS unified air defense system. According to Russian military experts, Georgia's withdrawal will not disrupt the operation of the unified air defense system, as Georgia is not a key chain in the missile defense security system. Political analysts however noted a political element to Tbilisi's withdrawal from the agreement as Georgia continues its efforts to move closer to NATO and away from the CIS.


Stop arming Georgia, top Russian general tells NATO chiefs

NATO member states should stop providing arms to Georgia, as their actions are creating dangerous instability in the South Caucasus, Russia's top general said Thursday. 'The only decision today which may stop ... a (possible) military conflict in Georgia is to stop the militarization of Georgia. Unfortunately, in the past several months and years this has been growing, and I gave some examples today,' Russia's Chief of Staff General Yuri Baluyevski said. 'NATO has to take measures in order to prevent arms supplies to that region,' he added. During a meeting with NATO national chiefs of staff in Brussels, Baluyevski named NATO members Turkey, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and the United States as countries who are supplying Georgia with arms, NATO sources said. He also defended Russia's recent decision to send more troops into the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, arguing that the number of troops was still within treaty limitations and that 'thanks to Russia's peacekeepers, there is no violence between Abkhazia and Georgia.' 'If there are any proposals that peacekeepers from other countries, from any European nations go to that region to preserve peace and minimal stability, we would be happy to accept the proposal, but that doesn't happen,' Baluyevski said. Abkhazia fought a war of independence against Georgia in the early 1990s, and has consistently refused to accept Tbilisi's rule. Russia has maintained troops in the area since 1994. However, after NATO leaders at an April summit in Bucharest said that Georgia would one day join the alliance, tensions in the region worsened dramatically, with Georgia accusing Russia of shooting down a spy plane over Abkhazia and Russia accusing Georgia of wanting to start a war in the area. Baluyevski insisted that Russia was not to blame for the tension, saying rather that 'first what we need to do is to stop the militarization of Georgia and stop military supplies going there.' However, he also said that NATO generals 'treated the issue with a lot of understanding,' and that he was 'satisfied' with the meeting.


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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 realization 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 as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. 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 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 something 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 continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers 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.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, 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, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles 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 the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.