Negative judgements in Washington of the actions of Russia in South Ossetia caused understandable criticism in Moscow. At the same time, Moscow hopes that the West shall understand the truth of the situation.
The firm response of Russia to the invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia has become a serious trial in Moscow’s relations with the West, particularly, with the USA. On Sunday, leading Russian diplomats gave a press conference. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin stated, “The present position taken by the West is a disappointment. Yet again, in the present situation, the West missed an opportunity to prove that they have moved beyond the clichés, the double standards, and the subjectivity of the recent past”. In his view, “Strangely, the voice of the West was silent and muted in the first hours of the invasion of South Ossetia, and, then, as if on command, certain countries started to engage in criticism and tried to actually obstruct the efforts of the Russian forces to compel the invader to stand down, bringing into question their purpose, methods, and motives”. He went on to say, “This brings up very serious questions concerning their sincerity in their relations with us, and we shall bear this in mind when we carry on discussions and negotiations dealing with world order”.
Previously, the US State Department accused Russia of using disproportionate force and not being serious [in using diplomacy] in connection with the South Ossetian conflict. The White House called the Russian actions “dangerous and unacceptable”. “We are disturbed by the situation”, US deputy National Security adviser James Jefferys told journalists in Beijing. He added that the USA told Russia clearly that if it continues to escalate the conflict in South Ossetia, it would impair relations between Washington and Moscow.
In reply, Mr Karasin stated in Moscow that Russia intended to state its strong disagreement with the statements of the US State Department as regards the Russian actions in South Ossetia. “Naturally, our reaction is negative. I am convinced that we shall say such in the telephone conversation now going on between Foreign Minister Lavrov and Condoleezza Rice”, he said. “We have had many contacts with the Americans lately. However, a statement is a statement, and we are going to give an official answer to it”, he said.
Many experts believe that the key to the ending of the bloodshed of South Ossetia is located in Washington. In particular, Sergei Karaganov, the head of the Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence, believes that the fastest way to end the shooting in the Georgian invasion is to involve the USA in the negotiations. “We can end this crisis quickly, if the USA and Russia come to an understanding. Someone must bring Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili under control”, Mr Karaganov said to Interfax.
In the opinion of Mr Karasin, the reports of Western media outlets have led to a distorted picture of the actions of Russia in the conflict. “We would like to see not only pictures of Russian tanks, reports about the advance of Russian troops into South Ossetia, and the fact that Russia is at war with Georgia on Western television screens. They should also show the suffering of the Ossetian people, the bodies of the dead old people and children, the devastated villages, and the ruins of Tskhinvali, which is destroyed almost to the last time. This would be an objective presentation of the evidence. Anything is nothing but political manipulation of the facts”, he said.
He called the international community to place pressure on Georgia, to force it to honour its obligations under existing ceasefire agreements. “The international community must put pressure on Georgia so that it would withdraw its forces to the positions that were occupied on 6 August and that it would honour its obligations concerning the renunciation of force. Only after this, shall it be possible to begin contacts and negotiations, which, undoubtedly, shall be extremely complicated”, Mr Karasin said.
Some observers believe that the increasingly active diplomatic efforts of some European countries give grounds to hope that a point of contact shall be found. On Sunday, as the presiding member of the EU, France proposed a plan for a ceasefire in South Ossetia. In a speech broadcast on television, French President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed that his plan calls for both sides to pull back to the positions they held before hostilities began and to return the region to the status it had prior to the war. He added that he discussed the situation in South Ossetia with official representatives of Georgia, Great Britain, the Ukraine, Spain, and Italy. He also intends to speak with the leaders of Russia, Germany, Poland, and the USA. Meanwhile, he alleged that all the members of the EU are calling for an immediate ceasefire. It is expected that the foreign ministers of the EU shall hold an extraordinary session covering the situation in South Ossetia at the beginning of next week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a telephone conversation with M Sarkozy on Sunday, asked him to call “without delay and unconditionally introduce a ceasefire in the Caucasus”, Thomas Schteg, the press secretary of the chancellor reported. Furthermore, he said, Chancellor Merkel called for all military units to fall back to “the positions that were occupied prior to the conflict”. She insisted on the need “for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Georgia”.
At the same time, many European leaders criticise Russia for its actions in the Caucasus. In particular, the Finnish Foreign Minister, Alexander Shtubb, stated that Russia is no longer a mediator in the South Ossetian negotiations. “Russia is a combatant, not a mediator, and this must be reflected at the moment we begin ceasefire negotiations for an armistice”, Mr Shtubb said at a press conference the day before in Helsinki.
In Moscow, surprise was expressed at the reaction of the OSCE to the events of the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. “It is difficult for me to judge Mr Shtubb’s position, based on this statement”, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko stated on Sunday to Interfax. He stated that Russia was merely acting in accordance with its obligations under the 1992 agreement, which prescribes it to “provide supervision for the maintenance of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of military units. This is precisely what the OSCE must demand from the Georgian side. It must completely and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the conflict zone and immediately sign a legally-binding non-aggression agreement”, Mr Grushko said.
In his turn, Mr Karasin emphasised that the Foreign Ministry insists that there be formal documentation of the obligations of Georgia as regards the renunciation of force against South Ossetia. “These obligations must be embodied in an official document. Unfortunately, it is necessary to stipulate such things in writing because the events of the beginning of August prove that no one can believe any oral statement emanating from the Georgian leadership”, he said.
10 August 2008
I can only shake my head. The Americans and Western Europeans are living in a fantasy-land created by Baron Munchausen, the Tooth Fairy, Uncle William, and Hieronymus Bosch. Oh, yes… I forgot; the Easter Bunny and the Great Oz live next door…
There is nothing but a disconnect with reality in their proposals. Dream on, M Sarkozy! A return to the status quo ante bellum is impossible, so, why propose such nonsense? Angela Merkel is another toothless tiger, to be sure. She is going to be ignored. Why? One word… Gazprom. Yes, Mr Shtubb… threaten Russia… you are from the great power of Finland. How many divisions does Finland have and how many ICBMs?
In short, they are pygmies who do not have the military power to intervene, and they are fatally-dependent on Russian gas and oil shipments. Gazprom is worth as much as all the armaments of Russia. France and Germany shall fall in line, just as they did when Russia told them privately to oppose NATO membership for Georgia and the Ukraine. They can bleat all they will. Repeat after me… GAZPROM. That is why the Western Europeans shall cave.
Do not forget how this war began. The Georgians turned their guns on unsuspecting colleagues in the peacekeeping force. By now, the word of this treachery has flashed throughout the Russian forces and through most of the country as well. To be clear, there is a determination to pay the Georgians back in their own sorry coin. In addition, the Russian forces are helping to bury the civilian dead. I can just hear one of the soldiers now, “Don’t worry, baba, we’ll get the bastards three times over for what they did!” Believe me, they shall, and all the pin-striped diplomats and wordy therapists in the world are not going to stop it.
The Georgians deliberately targeted civilians from the first. As Prime Minister Putin said, “It’s total genocide. This is nothing but madness. Civilised people do not behave like this”. We are to sit down with such filth because America wills it? Do think again. America is going to be humbled, for it has no troops to send, even if it were mad enough to do so, and no money to fund operations. Russia is going to do as it wills, and no one shall be able to say boo. The blood of the innocents shall be avenged. As we speak, 150 Russian investigators are documenting Georgian atrocities. Saakashvili and his criminal clique shall end in chains; let the West and its squeamishness be damned. The sooner their lives are ended, the better it shall be for decent humanity.
The blood of the innocents cry before God for vengeance… and California nihilist Americans sweetly tell us to “move on”. Excuse me… whilst I hurl in disgust.