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Should Russia be trusted?

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, August 2
In '10 Reasons Not to Trust Russia' published by The Heritage Foundation on July 29, the 6th reason entitled 'Russia’s No Regard for Georgia’s Independence' was based on the fact that “Russia has repeatedly broken its promises to withdraw military forces from Georgia and Moldova”. “When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it rewrote the rules of post World War II European security. It repudiated the Helsinki Pact of 1975, which recognized the security of European borders, and violated the sovereignty of a NATO aspirant and member of the Council of Europe,” said the article.

Georgia analyst Gia Khukhasvili told The Messenger that he could name many more reasons for that issue. He said unfortunately Russia is not alone in the harsh world as some other countries share the imperial ideas by scarifying the interests of the “small players”. “The fact that Georgia has been mentioned among one of the main reasons not to trust Russia has a positive aspect but so far nothing has been said differently. It is an old topic – we are aware that Russia still follows non-recognition policy for Georgia’s independence. I just wonder why the Heritage Foundation has started discussing political rather than social aspects – that's what has been actually new for me,” Khukhashvili said adding that there remain few “players in the world political arena.”

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze added that the article by Heritage Foundation is just one example of the various statements made by international representatives visiting Georgia. “Each political guest states that the military bases should by all means be withdrawn from the country in the frames of the international community, not according to the rules defined by Russia. The above mentioned article strengthens the political pressure on Russia and makes the European community more aware of Russia’s violations of modern standards,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.

In their article about Russia, the prominent international experts expressed their concerns about the country’s political and economical policy claiming that despite the terrible record as a reliable partner of the current regime in Russia, President Obama wants the nuclear treaty he negotiated with the Kremlin fast-tracked for Senate approval. Clearly according to this research it makes no sense.

“Russia regards the US and NATO as its principal adversaries and configures its forces for large-scale conventional theatre operations with them. The recent discovery of the Russian spy network inside the US and their celebration upon return to Russia, courtesy of President Obama, indicates that Russia is set in a Cold War mentality,” the article said claiming the West is still Russia's No.1 threat.

Russia repeatedly violated the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) all the way to its expiration in December 2009, according to the 2005 and 2010 State Department compliance reports. Even though it was definitely prohibited Russia tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile with Multiple Individually Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (warheads) while START was in force. The state has been simultaneously violating the “non-proliferation agreements by providing ballistic missile technology to Iran and North Korea, which have continually threatened America and its allies”. What’s more after almost 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the country still designs, builds, and modernizes nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. “Russia’s new military doctrine maintains a low threshold for nuclear first strikes. In fact, Moscow plans to use tactical nuclear weapons in Europe if ever confronted with a conventional threat. In 2009, Russia conducted a military exercise that simulated a nuclear attack on Poland,” analysts said in the article.

Russia has been called a tie for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah by providing the military and diplomatic support for anti-American “rogue states” like Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. Russia voted with the US at the UN Security Council to pass sanctions on Iran but only after working hard to water them down to practically nothing. “In response to the US plans for a defensive missile shield in Europe to protect against Iranian missile threats, Moscow has repeatedly threatened to deploy Iskander short-range and nuclear-capable missiles to target US allies in Eastern Europe. Reports show that the Baltic Fleet is armed with nuclear weapons that can be used against Europe,” were the 7th and 8th reasons why not to trust the country.

Claiming that the Kremlin uses its neighbours' and Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas as a foreign policy tool to pressure states, the article gave an example of 2009 when Russia “cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and to Europe by extension, causing the International Energy Agency to deem them an unreliable supplier.”

The current model of leadership under President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has become increasingly authoritarian according to international experts who claim that despite the numerous commitments under the international law, the government has tightened controls on political life, civil society, and the media. “Disruption of political opposition’s activities, restricting access to state-controlled TV, human rights violations, murders of journalists and anti-corruption activists, disappearance and torture, abuse of the legal system for monetary and political gain all illustrate this negative trend.”

The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.