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The UN must condemn Russian aggression

Thursday, September 25
Georgian–Russian relations are the key issue at the UN General Assembly. It is vitally important for Georgia and the entire civilized world to condemn the Russian aggression so that it loses the appetite for doing the same thing again and retreats from its stubborn position.

Moscow is trying its utmost to convince the world that it was Georgia which started the aggression and Russia is a “saviour of the poor.” But this is not just a confrontation between two sovereign countries. Russia is playing bigger and more devious game. It wants to establish a new world order based on force, which ignores the accepted rights, rules and regulations of the international community.

Now the world has to decide once and for all. Either “the law of the jungle” is in force from now on or common sense prevails and rule of law wins, meaning that Russia’s conduct is condemned and it is forced to retreat under the international pressure. This is a challenge and the world has to accept it with due intent because the stakes are too high to ignore. Not one single state should think that it could avoid the complications resulting from international inaction. If Russia is not punished the world will start living in an absolutely different reality from tomorrow.

The combat on the ground is over but the information war is proceeding vigorously. What happened in August between Russia and Georgia? Official Moscow tries to assert that the USA encouraged Georgia to launch an attack on its region of South Ossetia and accordingly Tbilisi carried out the assault, bombing Tskhinvali and killing people, with only the “heroic” efforts of the Russian Army rescuing the Ossetian people. Russia claims it carried out a “peace enforcement operation” against an “aggressor.” But this Russian version, as is often the case, is belied by its own conduct. Not satisfied with occupying the separatist-controlled zone, the town of Tskhinvali and some villages around it, it officially declared that it wanted to change Georgia’s President and Government and to control the transit routes and thus prevent them from functioning. Its so-called buffer zones were established for exactly this purpose, and the EU had to work hard to force Russia to give up this subversion.

The Kremlin was obliged to remove its checkpoints and troops from Poti, Senaki, Igoeti and other places. However Russia’s biggest “achievement” has been the establishment and self-recognition as “independent states” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Moscow has already started deploying its armed forces and building military bases. There is no doubt that by doing this, the Kremlin is flagrantly violating the Sarkozy-brokered six point agreement. However Russia now claims that the separatist-controlled territories spoken of in that agreement no longer exist. It claims they are now “sovereign states,” recognized by Russia and therefore subject to bilateral agreements between Russia and themselves, not the ceasefire agreement drawn up under different political conditions. Thus Russia establishes new rules of the game for its own benefit and acts according to these without hindrance.

Russia cannot cheat the world. Its behaviour is too transparent. The only question is whether the world will tolerate Russia’s behaviour. If it does, it should not be surprised if in the near future a slightly modified repeat aggression will be played out in another sovereign state somewhere near Russia. Just name them: Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, or even the Baltic States. Why not? By the Russian definition, these states which are fighting no one and threatening no one are likewise “aggressive”!

Moscow’s aggression against Tbilisi was very well planned. Georgia was trapped. “The death of one human being is a tragedy, but the death of hundreds is a statistic,” Stalin once cynically said. Several thousand ethnic Georgians were killed in the separatist-inspired conflicts and hundreds of thousands removed from their homes. The ethnic cleansing of Georgians is still being carried out in the separatist-controlled territories, as it has been since the beginning of the 90s, under the noses of so-called Russian peacekeepers, meaning with their guidance and approval. When Russians talk about the “genocide” of the Ossetian people by Georgians, this is top level cynicism. The world shouldn’t believe the manipulations of Moscow, which serve merely to disguise its own deeds and attempt to deceive the world.

Of course the UN cannot decide much. It can influence public opinion and unmask the deeds of the aggressor, but any decisions which could actually be taken by the UN Security Council would be blocked by Moscow if they were not in Russia’s interests. However the UN can demonstrate that Moscow’s wicked plans are known to the world. Thus, possibly, it might frustrate them and force Russia to give up its aggressive intention.

The West doesn’t want another Cold War or confrontation with Russia. This position encourages the Kremlin to think that it has been victorious and from now on can dictate to the world its own rules. It proposes a ‘multi-polar’ world order, but what this means is that it is planning to increase its sphere of interests not only over its near neighbours but states at a greater distance..

Before the end of the year, the international community has to take some serious and crucial steps. The more decisive the measures it takes against Russia, the less aggressive it will become.