West baffled by 2 heads for Russian Government - August, 2008


"You have Putin's war, and it seemed for a moment, you had Medvedev's peace,"...

The Kremlin's version of the classic good-guy, bad-guy routine.

Arevordi



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West Baffled by 2 Heads for Russian Government



August, 2008


When Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, rushed to Moscow earlier this month to mediate the crisis over Georgia, he found the new Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, to be calm, even sanguine about prospects for a solution. But the tone was wildly different when Sarkozy heard from Vladimir Putin, the president-turned-prime minister. According to a private report that Sarkozy later delivered to President George W. Bush, Putin was virulent in denouncing Georgian actions as atrocities, and he expressed such deep antipathy toward Georgian leaders that it made the war seem personal. Sarkozy's report, made in a telephone call to Bush on Aug. 13, has added to a sense of bewilderment in Washington about how to deal with what is now a two-headed government in Moscow — with Putin, still the dominant partner, occupying what is technically the subservient role.

American and European officials say there is no doubt that it is Putin who maintains the real power, making the decisions on how to prosecute and conclude the conflict. But they have felt compelled to follow diplomatic protocol that requires them to focus their negotiating efforts on Medvedev, who succeeded Putin in May to become the head of state. "This is a strange couple," a French official said of Medvedev and Putin, after insisting on anonymity because the discussion with Sarkozy was supposed to be private. American officials concede that they do not completely understand the balance of power within the Russian leadership. They tiptoe around the question of whether there really are significant policy differences between the Russian leaders, or whether the conflicting signals simply reflect the men's characters and temperaments. It is possible, they say, that the Russian leaders are very much in sync but playing a Kremlin version of "good cop-bad cop."



But while it was Medvedev who signed the cease-fire agreement that calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia, it remains far from clear whether Moscow will comply fully with that accord. On Wednesday, Russian military forces were still shoring up positions inside Georgia. Some American officials suggested that Medvedev might have been overruled by Putin, who may not share Medvedev's apparent concern about the impact of the war on Russia's finances, markets and trade relations. Of course, the conflict in Georgia is primarily rooted in borders and ethnicity, wounded Russian pride and global power politics. But the challenges of dealing with Russia's two-headed rule have certainly added an odd new element to the crisis. "You have Putin's war, and it seemed for a moment, you had Medvedev's peace," said Sarah Mendelson, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It's hard to say. Clearly Putin's in control." She added, "It's certainly complicating the diplomacy."

Ever since Medvedev was inaugurated May 7, after an election in which all significant opposition candidates were either kept off the ballot or limited in campaigning, the United States and other nations have deferred to him as the head of state. They did so even as it was clear that Putin would remain a significant political force — if not the de facto leader — in his role as prime minister. But the war with Georgia has made that pretense far more difficult to sustain. Even as the first Russian troops, tanks and missiles were pouring into South Ossetia and Georgia on Aug. 8, Bush twice confronted Putin in person while both were in Beijing, first at a social lunch and then at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. He spoke with Medvedev the next day by telephone; since then the highest American contacts have been between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, as the French president, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and others have taken the lead roles in mediating the conflict.

A French official who described the conversations that involved Sarkozy in Moscow said Medvedev was never apologetic over Russian actions in Georgia. But the official said Medvedev was more composed and quieter than Putin, who was bombastic and negative. Sarkozy described to Bush how Medvedev was "less emotional about everything." Putin's comments about Georgia and its American-educated president, Mikheil Saakashvili, were taken as nothing short of outright hatred. Another sign that Medvedev's authority was limited emerged even before the Georgia crisis, after the Russian president joined leaders of other Group of 8 industrialized nations in Japan to sign a statement criticizing Zimbabwe for the sham election held after weeks of violence. Within days, Russia then reversed course, using its veto at the United Nations Security Council to block actions that would have punished Zimbabwe for its stance. In highlighting differences between the Russian leaders, American and European officials may be seeking to elevate Medvedev, who had been viewed as a more conciliatory negotiating partner. And there is clearly an element of American needling. "President Medvedev at one point, just a few weeks ago, laid out a very hopeful vision for Russia's interaction with the rest of the world, one in which Russia would be respected and accepted for its commerce and its technology and its scientific prowess and its culture," Rice said told CBS News this week. "And to instead have activities that hearken back to another time, when all that the Soviet Union had was its military power, it's really a sad state of affairs for Russia."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was asked whether Putin, even as prime minister, was still in charge in Russia. "He clearly, as far as I'm concerned, has the upper hand right now," Gates told ABC News on Sunday. "There had been a lot of signals from Putin that he was going to allow power to stay with the president, that Medvedev would be in charge, would be the person responsible for leading Russia going forward," Gates said. "Steps he's taken in the transition from president to prime minister and in recent weeks and now certainly in Georgia, at least in my opinion, bespeak more of Putin having his hand on the steering wheel than anybody else." Even internally, the Russians have sent conflicting signals about who is in charge. State media focused on Putin in the early days of the conflict, only to later give more prominence to Medvedev, who delivered blistering remarks on Monday in Vladikavkaz, the staging city for Russian forces operating in Georgia, just as Putin had on Aug. 9.

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/08/...ca/21diplo.php

Russia Blocks Georgia's Main Port City



Russian forces blocked the only land entrance to Georgia's main port city on Thursday, a day before Russia promised to complete a troop pullout from its ex-Soviet neighbor. Armored personnel carriers and troop trucks blocked the bridge to the Black Sea port city of Poti, and Russian forces excavated trenches and set up mortars facing the city. Another group of APCs and trucks were positioned in a nearby wooded area. Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised that his forces would pull back by Friday, Russian troops appear to be digging in, raising concern about whether Moscow is aiming for a lengthy occupation of its small, pro-Western neighbor.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told The Associated Press that Russia was thinning out its presence in some occupied towns but was seizing other strategic spots. He called the Russian moves "some kind of deception game." "(The Russians) are making fun of the world," he declared. Nonetheless, a top Russian general troops were moving out in accordance with an EU-sponsored cease-fire. "The pullback of Russian forces is taking place at such a tempo that by the end of August 22 they will be in the zones of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers," Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy head of the general staff, said at a briefing. The truce says both Russian and Georgian forces must move back to positions they held before fighting broke out Aug. 7 in Georgia's separatist republic of South Ossetia, which has close ties to Russia. The agreement also says Russian forces can work in a so-called "security zone" that extends more than four miles into Georgia from South Ossetia.

Poti is at least 95 miles west of the nearest point in South Ossetia. Russian tanks, trucks and troops, meanwhile, continued to hold positions around the strategically key city of Gori and in Igoeti, about 30 miles west of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Several thousand people rallied Thursday in Sukhumi, the capital of Georgia's other separatist region of Abkahzia. A similar rally was expected in South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali later in the day. Russian officials, including Medvedev, have indicated Moscow will recognize the regions as independent. Nogovitsyn said Georgia has "no moral right" to return its soldiers to South Ossetia, where they had held some swaths of land as part of a peacekeeping mission.

The warfare in a nation straining to escape Moscow's influence has sent tensions between Moscow and the West to some of their highest levels since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart signed a deal to build an American missile defense base in Poland. Last week, a top Russian general warned Poland was risking an attack, possibly a nuclear one, by developing the base. A spokeswoman for Norway's defense ministry said Russia had told its embassy that Moscow plans to "freeze all military cooperation" with NATO and its allies. Later, Russia's Interfax news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying Moscow was reconsidering its cooperation with the military alliance.

About 80,000 people displaced by the fighting are in more than 600 centers in and around Tbilisi. The United Nations estimates 158,000 people in all fled their homes in the last two weeks — some south to regions around Tbilisi, some north to Russia. A U.S. official in Turkey said three U.S. military vessels were heading through Turkey's Bosporus, a strait that connects the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, to deliver aid to Georgia. Two of the ships were leaving Crete on Thursday. He declined to be named because he was not authorized to give that information to media. Since Aug. 19, the United States has delivered aid to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on 20 flights.

Source: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g..._6oVwD92MKNFG0

Russian Troops Dig In at Poti


Russian forces took up positions Thursday at the entrance to Georgia's main Black Sea port city, excavating trenches and setting up mortars facing the city despite Russia's promise to pull back troops from territory deep inside Georgia. Several armored personnel carriers and troop trucks blocked the bridge that is the only land entrance to Poti, and another group of armored personnel carriers, or APCs, and trucks were positioned in a nearby wooded area. Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised that his forces would pull back by Friday, Russian troops appeared to be settling in for a long presence. But a top Russian general said troops were moving out in accordance with the agreement. "The pullback of Russian forces is taking place at such a tempo that by the end of August 22 they will be in the zones of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers," Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy head of the general staff, said at a briefing Thursday in Moscow.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Russia was seizing strategic spots in Georgia even as it thinned out its presence in some occupied towns. He called the Russian moves "some kind of deception game." The Russians "are making fun of the world," he declared. A European Union-sponsored cease-fire says both Russian and Georgian forces must move back to positions they held before fighting broke out Aug. 7 in Georgia's separatist republic of South Ossetia, which has close ties to Russia. The agreement also says Russian forces can work in a so-called "security zone" that extends 4.3 miles into Georgia from South Ossetia. Poti is at least 95 miles west of the nearest point in South Ossetia. Gen. Nogovitsyn said Russia will build 18 checkpoints in the security cordon around the province. Russian tanks, trucks and troops, meanwhile, continued to hold positions around the strategic city of Gori as well as in Igoeti, about 30 miles west of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

In Gori, no Russian troops or heavy weaponry could be seen Wednesday evening. Earlier in the day, Russian troops had been strictly limiting access to Gori to residents and turning away foreign journalists. Along the main highway from Gori to Tbilisi, Russian peacekeepers stopped cars and checked documents of passengers. In Gori itself, dozens of people waited for promised food. About 80,000 people displaced by the fighting are in more than 600 centers in and around Tbilisi. The United Nations estimates 158,000 people in all fled their homes in the last two weeks -- some south to regions around Tbilisi, some north to Russia. Some of the estimated 37,000 refugees in Russia said government aid has been slow in coming. "I was hoping Russia would help me," said Frosia Besayeva, 30, as she waited with her two small children for humanitarian aid in Beslan, Russia. "But so far we haven't seen anything except for promises."

In the nearby town of Ardon, Galina Gabayeva, 36, said her family of four took in as many as 15 refugees from South Ossetia. She later had to send four of them elsewhere, because she couldn't house so many people and there was no help from the government. "We condemned ourselves to such immense suffering," Ms. Gabayeva said bitterly. "We hoped for help, but there isn't any." A U.S. official in Turkey said Thursday that three U.S. military vessels were heading through Turkey's Bosporus, a strait that connects the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia. Two of the ships were leaving Crete Thursday. The official, who declined to be named because he wasn't authorized to give that information to media, said the three ships were the command ship USS Mount Whitney, the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul and the Coast Guard cutter Dallas. Since Aug. 19, the U.S. has delivered aid to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on 20 flights.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1219...googlenews_wsj


In related news, below are several interesting geopolitical perspectives from Turkey:


‘Russia’s imperial comeback not desirable for Turkey’



International relations expert Hakan Kırımlı has stated that Moscow’s behavior in the current crisis in the Caucasus shows the world that the Russian state is coming back as a significant “derzhava,” or power, and that it could have serious repercussions for Turkey and the West. “When the Russian tsarist empire was gone, there were so many people in the West naïve enough to believe that in matters of foreign expansion and imperialism the former empire was over and that the Soviet Union was an entirely new state based on different principles. Yes, the USSR is no longer there, but Russian derzhava and the imperial mentality is still there,” he said.

Why do you think Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia?

Saakashvili apparently did not make a good calculation. To evaluate why he acted like this, we should look at his political record, which has been increasingly damaged in Georgia. Democracy by Western standards has never been established in Georgia. Within this framework, Saakashvili desired to take credit for his actions in South Ossetia. At the same time, Russia has never been happy with Saakashvili’s closeness to the West. And Russia again has never been happy with the push Saakashvili gave to the construction of the Baku-Ceyhan -- it was originally Baku-Ceyhan and later was changed to Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the BTC, on Saakashvili’s insistence -- pipeline. Russia has been waiting for an appropriate moment for at least five years to punish Saakashvili.

What would you say about the desires of the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Are they genuinely seeking independence?

Their desire to be independent is real and genuine, although that desire plays into the hands of Moscow together with Georgia’s insistence on not recognizing their independence -- although they have been practically independent for years. The so-called Russian “peacekeeping forces” in South Ossetia have actually been Russian occupational forces targeted against Georgians. The South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples have not been Russian puppets, but conditions have required them to rely on Russia to connect to the rest of the world. Most of them have adopted Russian citizenship out of practical necessity.

Do you think Turkey should have seen this crisis coming and should have initiated diplomacy so as to prevent such a catastrophe?

Of course the crisis could have been seen, but it is a matter of what you can achieve even if you had seen it. The current French and Turkish initiatives are nothing more than diplomatic rhetoric. The main actor who is playing the game is Russia. We will see a number of committees established following the crisis, we will see a special United Nations representative appointed to deal with the situation and we will see endless diplomatic commissions and approaches, etc. Nevertheless, all these, in practice, will not change anything a single bit. What matters is whether Russian forces will be forced to leave the region or not. Otherwise the present picture will not change.

Is this only because of Western dependence on Russian energy resources?

The entire source of Russian power comes from its oil and gas, plus a strong army and weaponry. Putin’s Russia blatantly uses its resources as a means for political pressure in every sphere. Of course, a number of Western countries, starting with Germany, are very much under the sway of this policy. The concept of state -- derzhava -- promoted by Putin, and which has existed throughout Russian history, is a genuinely heavy-handed one with serious imperialistic overtones. In order to maintain the prestige of his regime at home, Putin absolutely needs to create the image of a Russia once again capable of bringing its foes to their knees, no matter what it may cost in humanitarian terms.

Is Russia like “Big Brother” watching every smaller country’s move?

It’s even beyond it. It’s about being omnipresent and powerful. [Former President, now Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin used this strong Russian state concept to make use of Russian gas and oil. And, contrary to Saakashvili, Putin knew that the West would not cross giant Russia over tiny Georgia. One of Moscow’s most important accomplishments here is that it was able to send a message to the former Soviet republics and even to the EU states formerly under Soviet influence that this is what will happen if they do not behave in accordance with Russian interests. It has been very ominous that Russia explained its most recent actions as ‘defending the rights of the Russians abroad,’ a pretext which is possible to be used elsewhere.

Are you referring to such countries as Ukraine and Azerbaijan, where there are ethnic Russian populations?

Of course. For example, the Crimean region of Ukraine is a hot spot. Crimea, with its special circumstances, is very much open to any provocation, and in recent years there have been many examples of such acts. On the other hand, it is absolutely absurd to buy into the idea that Russia intervened in Georgia so as to promote the right of self-determination for the two Caucasian nations, the Abkhazians and Ossetians. One has to look at Chechnya to understand to what degree Russia respects Caucasian peoples’ desire for self-determination. Russia continues its shocking human rights abuses in Chechnya, following the two disastrous Chechen wars. Just suppose what would happen if North Ossetia sought to achieve the right to self-determination from Russia. Indeed, if Georgia recognizes the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, that would be devastating for Russia.

Why?

This would be the least desirable situation for Russia because then South Ossetia and Abkhazia would no longer need Russia. A continuing crisis situation between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia is more advantageous for Russia. Currently those places are enclaves within Georgia, full of Russian troops, and both totally dependent on Russia. Under the current circumstances, it is obvious that Russian troops are there to stay with or without the will of the Abkhazians and the Ossetians. So long as these small countries are not formally independent of Georgia, the latter will -- for me, in a totally futile way -- keep dreaming of having them back, and Russia will always imply that it will be impossible unless Georgia becomes a truly docile state towards Russia. And there will certainly be some people in Georgia who are likely to believe this fairy tale. In other words, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be a matter of permanent blackmail for Georgia.

Some EU states that were formally part of the Soviet bloc, including Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have expressed solidarity with Tbilisi. What do you make of this development?

They’ve expressed solidarity because these countries have perfectly understood the message Russia sent by invading Georgia; they know this language by heart! And they also are very conscious and knowledgeable about what and where their next moves should be.

Is there a possibility that Russia would take full control over Georgia?

Not today, but Russia is preparing for the possibility of a pro-Russian government in Georgia. Saakashvili will have almost zero credibility after this war. … Russia would love to see an old Soviet apparatchik in the style of [former pro-Russian President Eduard] Shevardnadze or somebody else who is prone to act as Moscow’s puppet as the head the Georgian state.

What would that mean for Turkey?

The revival of something like the old Soviet presence would be the most undesirable development for Turkey.

Why?

Both the tsarist empire and the Soviet Union presented absolutely the greatest single threats to Turkey. Today we have the BTC because the Soviet Union is no longer there. I am not saying that the USSR is immediately coming back, but as a historian, I can say that I’ve seen this picture before. When the Russian tsarist empire was gone, there were many people in the West naïve enough to believe that in matters of foreign expansion and imperialism the former empire was over and the Soviet Union was an entirely new state based on different principles. Yes, the USSR is no longer there, but Russian derzhava and the imperial mentality are still there.

What does the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline represent?

The BTC brings Azerbaijani oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean for Westbound shipments. It represents a critical feature: Now Azerbaijan and Georgia are connected to the world via its bypass of Russia. This pipeline was opened despite Russia. It is not so much about how much oil it carries or what it represents financially. It is about connecting to the rest of the world without being at the mercy of Russia.

[...]

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/de...150487&bolum=8

Strategic Implications of Russian Invasion

Russia's invasion of Georgia has been called the act that ended the “End of History,” referring to Francis Fukuyama's controversial 1992 book that postulated the final triumph of Western liberal democracy over totalitarian ideologies and the finality of mankind's ideological evolution. On a less metaphysical plane, it marked the end of a unipolar international system with the United States as the only superpower and the rise of a bipolar (U.S.-Russia) or tri-polar (U.S.-Russia-China) system. It certainly suggests that the United States, having done nothing substantive to help its close Georgian ally and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, has become the strategically weaker relative to Russia (and thus, by implication, to China and even Iran).

Several factors explain this. The first is that the United States is stuck in Iraq, which has weakened it vis-a-vis Iran and the threats it faces from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hostility to the war at home, in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, has had negative effects on the U.S. image and its ability to galvanize the international community on any issue -- be it the Iranian threat or even support for Georgia. The second is that the U.S. economy is overburdened by the war in Iraq and by the huge increase in the cost of importing oil. U.S. armed forces are overburdened by fighting two wars, as is the federal budget that finances them. The U.S. needs Russian cooperation in dealing with Iran but has possibly forfeited the chances of achieving it by trying to install missiles in Eastern Europe, recognizing Kosovo and supporting Georgia up until the Aug. 8 invasion. Did the United States have any alternative? The only one was to send in troops to fight the Russians, but logistically and politically this was virtually impossible and everyone knew it.

Russian position advancing

While the United States' strategic position has been weakened since 2003, Russia's has improved thanks to two interrelated developments. The first was the transition from the weak regime of Boris Yeltsin to the increasingly strong one of Vladimir Putin. The latter, with his background in the KGB, proved a master in accumulating and exercising political power. He renewed and reinforced the political and economic clout of the central government, which had declined so drastically under his predecessors, taking back under public control vital assets in the hydrocarbon sector that had been privatized. As a result of the renationalization of hydrocarbon assets, the central government directly benefited from the rise in oil and gas revenues. While the fall of oil prices in mid-2008 will moderate this effect, some of the benefits have already been invested in strengthening and diversifying the economy and reducing its external vulnerability. Russia's external public debt was halved between 2003 and 2008. Moscow is, therefore, no longer subject to economic pressure from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union or anyone else.

Control of the Caspian basin

Russia's incursion into Georgia marked the first time since the invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 that the main successor state to the U.S.S.R -- Russia – had attacked and occupied territory in a sovereign neighboring country. Its aim was not only to support pro-Russian South Ossetian and Abkhazian separatists, but also, and more significantly, to prevent the emergence of a Georgian alternative to Russian pipelines that transport gas and oil from Central Asia to Europe. The “Finlandization” of Georgia would give Russia control of the Azebaijani (Baku)-Georgian (Tbilisi)-Turkish (Ceyhan) oil pipeline which came on line in 2006. As pipelines are the economic lifelines of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, Russia would thus come to completely dominate the Caspian basin. All the oil and gas that Europe imports from Russia and Central Asia would pass through Russia or Russian-dominated Georgia. Russian bargaining power vis-a-vis the Europeans and the Americans would increase, particularly regarding an area of vital interest to the West over which Moscow has the advantage of geographic proximity.

Europe's dependency

By invading Georgia, Russia has also warned Baltic, Eastern European and Central Asian states of what would happen if they move too close to the West. It has been seen as the first step towards reestablishing Russian hegemony in the region. However, such a Russian grand design could backfire. The subsequent U.S.-Poland agreement to install an anti-missile defense system on Polish soil is one indication of the possible negative consequences for Russia of its aggressive foreign policy in its “Near Abroad.” However, larger EU states, particularly Germany, are wary of the pro-American and anti-Russian enthusiasm among the EU's new eastern members (German Chancellor Angela Merkel was careful to blame both sides for the Georgian crisis). This wariness stems, in part, from the fact that many of its members are dependent on Russia for gas supplies: Russia supplies 36 percent of German gas needs, 20 percent of France's and 25 percent of Italy's. It also supplies 100 percent of Georgia's, 66 percent of Ukraine's and 64 percent of Turkey's. Moreover, gas has become increasingly important in the EU and elsewhere as it is a greener fuel than coal or oil.

In light of these trends, what are the implications of the Georgian crisis for the Middle East? U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated, and we will have to wait for a new administration in Washington to formulate its policies before much more can be said. U.S. standing among allied states from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus, Central Asia, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan has been weakened insofar as it has been seen as unwilling or unable to respond to Russia. The main Middle East beneficiary of the invasion has been Iran. Russia now has fewer reasons to cooperate with Washington regarding Iran's nuclear program and may have created the conditions under which the EU will have even less influence in Moscow. Still, there are limits to Russia's influence in the region given separatist threats of Islamists in its southwestern regions. Hence, Russia's encouragement of Georgian separatists may one day backfire. For the West, the costs of external energy dependence include relying for supplies on regimes such as those in Russia and the Middle East. As the Georgian crisis has shown, this is proving very costly, and in more ways than one.

Source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/a...enewsid=113396

Vladimir Sokor: "Conflict resolution will never be possible, if it depends on Russia. There will only be an official or unofficial annexation of the territory to Russia"

- Separate leaders of the western countries start to toughen their criticism of Russia for the military aggression against Georgia. Can any means of pressure on Moscow be applied in this case and how can it occur?

- It is a difficult question as the West lacks economic means of pressure on Moscow. Russia has an advantage for the first time in its history. This has never occurred in the Russian history. West's economic means are now too limited. This means that resistance should be conducted on the political level. For example, the European Union should stop talks with Russia on strategic partnership and non-visa regime. Moreover, NATO members and even countries, which want to join this organization, should change their priorities and focus on the defense of the national territory against Russian aggression. The best divisions of the Georgian army, which were in Iraq and fought on the US side, did not participate in the defense of their own country. Moreover, under US recommendations, most countries created military divisions for participating in the peacekeeping activity or anti-terror operation beyond their own borders , including in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. But it turned out that the defense of one's own country should be the primary thing.

- Which conclusions should Azerbaijan draw from the events in South Ossetia?

- The first conclusion for Azerbaijan is that Washington today remains even a greater strategic partner and ally for Baku. Certainly, the United States should perceive it correctly. The United States, which reacted to the events in Georgia so late and passively, should realize that the main geopolitical game today is for the Black Sea and Caspian regions. Russia has undertaken this operation in Georgia, realizing that there is no rival to its policy in the Caucasus, as the United States is busy in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with the Iran problem. These three conflicts weaken the United States. Washington has chosen wrong priorities. I think in fact, the leaders of all the countries, locating between the eastern borders of the European Union and NATO and the Caspian Sea, should tell the United States that the priority it has chosen are erroneous and that the destiny of the Euroatlantic community, US strategic position in the world and stability of the North Atlantic alliance depends on its policy in this area. Here the correlation of powers in the modern world will be defined. Independence and security of these countries and export of energy sources via these countries from the Caspian basin to Europe should become the main priorities of the US policy. Yet this understanding is now weak or completely absent in Washington.

- Can the Russian peacekeeping mission be spoken of following the events in Georgia, especially in the resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus?

- By the events in Georgia, Russia has made a sort of a revolution in the issue of peacekeeping. It showed the ability to hold military actions of any scale and in any place under pretense of peacekeeping. The peacekeeping mission of Russia has always been an absolute lie. Russia participated in the very beginning of conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan as a party and held these wars. Russia and Armenia are the direct initiators and the participants of war in Karabakh. Thus, to speak of the Russian peacekeeping and Russia's role as a mediator in the conflict resolution is merely ridiculous, which is proven by the experience of the last 15 years.

- Does it mean that the conflicts, which involve Russia as a mediator, will never be settled?

- Yes, the resolution of the conflict will never be possible if it depends on Russia. There will only be an official or unofficial annexation of the territory by Russia.

- Can the South Ossetian script repeat in Nagorno Karabakh?

- The situation with the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict differs from what is now going on in Georgia for the number of aspects. Nagorno Karabakh does not border on Russia and Moscow does not raise the issue of "Russian citizens", "compatriots" and so on and the most important is that there are no Russian servicemen in Nagorno Karabakh. I would like to note that this occurred owing to the principal position of Azerbaijani diplomat Araz Azimov, who in 1994 made a categorical statement against displacement of the peacekeepers of the "third countries", in other words, Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh.

[...]

Source: http://www.today.az/news/politics/47011.html

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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.