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Georgia in Russia-USA relations

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 14
The Georgian issue has become the subject of intensive discussions between Russia and the US in the period leading up to the Obama-Medvedev June meeting. Official Moscow is demanding that the USA accept Georgia as part of its sphere of influence. The US however wants to cooperate with Russia but not at the expense of Georgia. Some time ago Russian PM Vladimir Putin, who is in reality number one in Russia, told Washington that unless USA reduces its support for Georgia the resetting of Russian-American relations will not take place. The Kremlin is not only insisting that Georgia is shunted into a sphere of Russian interest but that Georgia’s leaders are labelled ‘aggressors’ by their allies.

Maybe Georgia has certain shortcomings in the area of democratic development but it is far ahead of Russia in this regard. Although PM Putin criticizes Georgia he would better off re-examining his and his country’s imperialistic ambitions. All the so-called democratic rhetoric we hear from Putin is designed to win acceptance, if not outright approval, of its aggressive conduct in August 2008 and since. It appears that Russia thinks winning the diplomatic battle over Georgia is vital to its own national interest, and this should be a warning to the US administration that if it gives up Georgia now Russia will not stop there. Fortunately the US leadership understands this pretty well.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov aired very similar demands to Putin during his visit to Hillary Clinton a couple of days prior to his boss’s statement. The resetting of relations was a US initiative, and although America understands the importance of cooperation between the two countries Washington always highlights that its evaluation of the August war and the circumstances around it radically differs from that of the Kremlin. The White House is trying to separate US-Georgia and US-Russia relations, and hopes it will be able to pursue sound relations with the Kremlin to reduce nuclear armaments and further its policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan. However Putin is not seeking to establish sound relations but blackmail the USA and try and fulfill Russia’s own ambitions unilaterally.

The US position has once again been confirmed in an interview Matthew Bryza has given to Ekho Moskvi, in which he highlighted that the US will never recognize the independence of the Russian-occupied territories and will not bargain on this issue. He said that the USA does not accept Moscow’s statement that the terms of the original ceasefire are no longer valid and demanded the unconditional fulfillment of the liabilities Russia accepted by signing the agreements of August 12 and September 8, 2008, which oblige both sides to return their armed forces to their prewar positions. Moscow, in defiance of this, is continually increasing its troop numbers in those territories. If initially there were 4,500 Russian soldiers today there are more than 10,000.

Russia’s fondness for giving stubborn ultimatums is the product of its two ( diplomatic) victories over NATO. First it forced NATO to refuse to grant Membership Action Plans to Georgia and Ukraine and then it attacked Georgia in August. Now it wants to legalize its illegal acts and put pressure on the USA. This is a challenge for the whole democratic world. Thankfully Russia should not win, at least this time.