Russia Shows Its Weakness

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Today’s Washington Post passes along word from US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Daniel Fried, characterizing Russia’s recent intervention into Georgia as reflecting Russia “being angry and seeking revanchist victory” – “the sign of a weak [nation].” Putin, Medvedev & Co. seem to have gotten about all they wanted there, so is this just happy talk? Whistling past the graveyard? Maybe not; it’s a view also supported – and expanded upon – by Prof. Herfried Münkler of Berlin’s renowned Humboldt University writing in today’s Frankfurter Rundschau (The Russian Power). (more…)

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Trembling in Moldova

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Much ink has been spilled lately – or, if you like, billions of computer-screen pixels have been illuminated – in the wake of the Russian military incursion into Georgia over the new aggressiveness this signals in Russia’s outlook towards the outside world, particularly in situations enabling that country’s leaders to manufacture a pretext to invade based around “protecting” Russian nationals residing in some neighboring country. Which one of those neighbors is likely as the next candidate for Moscow’s attentions? You can bet that any remaining summer leave has been revoked as officials in both the ministries of foreign affairs and defense scramble to update their position statements and contingency plans in Kiev, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Baku, Yerevan – and in Chisinau.

Chisinau? You might recall that as the capital of the Republic of Moldova. It may not share any border with Russia, but in fact it is one country that has more to worry about in the face of the new Russian assertiveness than most, as André Tibold of the Nederlands Dagblad reminds us today (Moldova is also worried about provocations). (more…)

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Georgia = Czechoslovakia?

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday, speaking of the recent Russian actions in Georgia, that “This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Things have changed.” Examining her words carefully, one could conclude that her point is essentially that Russia is attempting a repeat of what it accomplished with its Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia – exactly forty years ago this month, as it happens – but should not be able or allowed to succeed this time.

But are the two military undertakings, separated by four decades, really comparable? You could ask the Czechs themselves about that. (more…)

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