Voices from Russia

Monday, 11 August 2008

Europeans Pondering Their Options With Regard To Georgia

Filed under: diplomacy,mass media,politics,Russian,USA,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

Georgian tank in the initial attack

The UN Security Council is set for more talks on Monday on a ceasefire call in Georgia after the United States and Russia traded accusations on the flare-up of violence in Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia. Yet, despite the rhetoric, UN diplomats were reportedly making progress on the text of a joint statement that would be acceptable to all sides. Meanwhile, European leaders are currently assessing the damage that’s been done by Georgia’s reckless move in South Ossetia.

US ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad accused Russia of seeking “régime change” in Georgia, drawing a sharp dismissal from Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who retorted that the expression “is a purely American invention”, pointing to US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Churkin said Russia’s action in South Ossetia was “appropriate”, as it “could not allow Georgian attacks on civilians and Russian peacekeepers” in the enclave, which he said amounted to “genocide”. Thousands of civilians and scores of Russian peacekeepers were reported killed in the wake of the Georgian assault on the province which began last Friday. Despite the sharp exchange, at least one Western diplomat reported progress on a plan that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner plans to present to the parties in Tbilisi and Moscow.

Meanwhile, as the enormity of Georgia’s blunder began to percolate through the West, Saakashvili’s regime came under increasing criticism from several Western capitals. While Washington is seen as increasingly critical of Russia over what Bush called “a disproportionate response” to Georgia’s provocation, the western media appeared to be more even-handed.

The Times of London, for one, said on Monday that “Georgia’s attempt to seize control of the secessionist South Ossetia region has been a gamble too far, reckless in its timing and founded on a fundamental misjudgement”. Calling the Georgian president “reckless”, the Times said he “thought he had the West on his side, but, he has been outsmarted by Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, who now holds all the cards. The military adventure had all the hallmarks of rushed planning and a fingers-crossed strategy, launched in the hope and expectation that the Russians would not react, but, if they did, the Americans and Georgia’s other NATO friends would come to his aid in one form or another. It was a classic misreading on Mr. Saakashvili’s part of the relationship between Washington and Moscow…” the Times concluded. Britain’s Economist said of Saakashvili that “Georgia’s ruler is not seen by all European leaders as quite the paragon of legality, freedom and reform that he claims to be. Georgia’s image was severely dented in November last year by a crackdown against the opposition”.

11 August 2008

Yuri Reshetnikov

Voice of Russia World Service



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