The acute phase of the conflict, caused with Georgian attack on the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, has passed. It is just impossible to forget about the terrible scenes: night missile launching at a peaceful city, barbaric destruction of the whole blocks, deaths of people driven into basements, demolition of the ancient monuments and the tombs of ancestors.
Russia did not want that aggravation. Russian leadership has sufficiently stable position inside the country and it did not need “a small victorious war”. Russia was involved in this crisis as a result of Saakashvili’s adventure who would not have dared for it without outside help. Russia could not have stayed inactive, and so a response followed and the aggression was stopped.
The decision by President Dmitry Medvedev about termination of military operations is a right and responsible step. The Russian President has been acting cool, confidently and firmly. In case someone had been calculating on confusion in Moscow, that calculating failed.
Another reckoning is getting more obvious now. That’s related to the wish to shift the blame onto Russia for worsening the situation in the region and in the world, with any outcome. The western media, especially American ones, have been carrying out a real propagandist attack against Russia. The coverage of the crisis, especially at first days, bore no trace of objectivity. The Western public was not given the full information and objective facts.
With Tskhinvali lying in smoky ruins, with thousands of people escaping from the city where the Russian troops had not entered yet, Russia was already accused of aggression, with the reprinted formulations by the Georgian leader, who had gone too far and had lied too much.
Whether the West was aware of Saakashvili’s plans is a serious and unclear question. Anyway, the programs of training the Georgian troops and the mass deliveries of weapons did not promote peace; instead, all that instigated to war.
In case this military adventure has been a surprise for the patrons of the Georgian leader, that would be bad too, as it would mean the tail wagging the dog. There have been a lot of compliments said at the Saakashvili’s address. He was called “ally”, “democrat”, and was praised for his help in Iraq etc. And now everyone, us, Europeans and - which is the worst – the peaceful civilians have to deal with consequences of the actions by the “best friend of the US”.
Before making judgments about Caucasian matters and before claiming for having influence there, one must get a true idea about this most complicated region. Ossetians live in Russia and in Georgia as well. The entire region is featured with ethnically striped pattern of habitation. All the talk like “this is our land”, “we free our land” must be dismissed. It’s just people living on the land, and must care about them.
The issues of the Caucasian region cannot be settled with force. Every time it was tried to be done so, a backflash was triggered. A legally binding agreement of non-use of force is needed. Saakashvili has repeatedly refused signing it, and it’s clear now why he did so. In case the West were able to help coming at such an agreement, that would be one of good works. And in case the West chose the opposite way of condemning Russia and rearming Georgia (this is what the American officials are already talking about), then a new aggravation would be inevitable, which would lead to even worse outcomes.
In recent days, the US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and President Bush have been intimidating Russia with isolation, while American politicians are saying about excluding our country from G8 and about liquidation of the Russia-NATO Council, also threatening not to accept Russia in the WTO. That’s all empty threat. Even without that Russia is asking herself: why do we need those mechanisms when we are inconsiderate? Is it just to be able to sit at a well laid table at which Russia is being given a lecture?
Indeed, all the recent years Russia has been presented with the ‘faits accomplis’: Kosovo, withdrawal from anti-missile defense treaty, deployment of anti-missile facilities in the neighboring countries, constant expansion of NATO to the east and so forth. All that has been done against the background of nice discourse about partnership. That’s nothing but a cover! Who would accept that?
Now there are appeals in the US for “revisiting” relations with Russia. To my reckon, if we are talking about that, then it’s the manner of talking to Russia that is to be reconsidered, the manner of talking arrogantly, without her position and interests being taken into account. Our countries are able to work out the serious agenda of true cooperation in deeds, not in words. It seems to me that many Americans and many Russians realize that. So the matter depends on politicians.
A two-party panel, dedicated to Russia-US relations, has been formed recently, being chaired by the former senator Garry Hart and the senator Chuck Hegel. The panel is manned with serious people and judging from its published mandate those people do understand what Russia is and how important it is to build up constructive relations with her.
The panel has stated it would work out recommendations for promotion of American national interests in relations with Russia. When caring only about it, then nothing good might come out of it. But in case the mutual interests are taken into consideration along with the interests of common security, in case we add a necessary portion of sobriety and realism, then it could be possible to open the way to restoring the trust and to serious cooperative working.