Putin and Medvedev: Reasserting control over what was once

was Russia's to command. Was NATO expansion of mistake



Rue 89, France

East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO


"Many commentators of course condemn this drive into an independent country as a manifestation of resurgent Russian imperialism. This, first of all, is to somewhat ignore history; and not to offend our new European Union partners from the East, this is a demonstration of the futility and even the toxicity of NATO."


By Jean Matouck


Translated By Sandrine Ageorges


August 15, 2008


France - Rue 89 - Original Article (French)

The Russian bear just moved! After a reckless attempt by Georgia to reaffirm, once and for all, its supremacy over South Ossetia, Putin and Medvedev, his man in the Kremlin, reacted very strongly with a military invasion of Ossetia, where Russian troops were already stationed for a mission of "peace," and to drive home the threat, even pushing into Georgia itself, into Gori. Many commentators of course condemn this drive into an independent country as a manifestation of resurgent Russian imperialism. This, first of all, is to somewhat ignore history; it also sets aside more than a few cases of wounded Russian pride, for the most part widely flouted before Putin; and incidentally, not to offend our new European Union partners from the East, it is a demonstration of the futility and even the toxicity of NATO.




It was in 1801 that Russia annexed Ossetia. North Ossetia had been integrated during the Soviet era, evidently without consulting the peoples of the Russian Federation, while South Ossetia was integrated into the Socialist Republic of Georgia, but with the status of an Oblast (and autonomous region). However, since 1925, Ossetians of the two republics, who have their own common language [similar to Persian], have been demanding unification.


[The Telegraph, U.K.]


In 1991 during the implosion of the USSR, the new Georgian state headed by a former Soviet apparatchik Eduard Shevardnadze [Gorbachev's former foreign minister ], put autonomy to an end, which provoked the northward migration of some of the 95,000 Ossetians from the South. In 1994, a secessionist movement, taking advantage of the weakening of Shevardnadze government, proclaimed the independence of South Ossetia. Two referendums, albeit illegal, gave 90 percent of the vote for independence.


It is this situation that the new Georgian president elected in 2004, Mickheil Saakachvili, has sought to reverse by force, and which has now turned on him like a boomerang. And it has hit back with added force because in 2006, he inaugurated on Georgian territory the 1102-mile Bakou-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which carries oil from Azerbaijan, bypassing its Russian competitor, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which carries oil from the Caspian Sea to the Russian port of Novorossiysk.




But far beyond the economic rivalry, here we must consider Russian pride. The USSR collapsed from within, simply because of an incapacity - understood by realistic Soviet leaders between 1985 to 1990 - to give the Russian people a decent standard of living and the hope that state-run economic structures would one day match those of the West.


To this one must add the proof - brought about by Reagan - of the decisive military superiority of the United States in the technologies that play an increasing role in modern warfare. Rockets, lasers and drones were gradually replacing men and tanks. The Russian leadership knew they could no longer make the grade.


Then team Yeltsin literally handed the country's capitalist economy over to American management. It was looted by businessmen, often Mafiosi, some who are still in place. The Russian economy has undoubtedly improved, but with a rise of inequality more dramatic than anywhere else. Putin has decided, and no one can blame him, to recover by Russians and for Russians, the main economic levers of the nation, including in the oil and raw material sectors.


[The Telegraph, U.K.]


That has been to the benefit of those closest to him, notably former members of the FSB (previously the KGB), while shamelessly, Putin has incarcerated or even assassinated businessmen from the Yeltsin period. This is undoubtedly a dark approach, but it remains politically just. No leader can witness the plundering of his country and the triumph of the mafias without reacting.




Unfortunately, the eastern expansion of the European Union and the question of the enlargement of NATO also intervened. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia joined the European Union, but with significantly differing goals from the founders and those who joined later, with the exception of Great Britain.


For the founders, the European Union was destined to become a confederation with the partial status of a sovereign state and which implied political integration. For the East, just as for the British, it should remain just a vast single market. With fear in the belly of the Russian bear, they have never relied on European integration to ensure their security. In their view, only the United States could provide that. Hence their absurd following of the Americans into the Iraqi adventure. Hence their irrepressible desire to join NATO.


[The Times, U.K.]


A grave error on their part, because the United States, entangled as it is in the Iraqi affair and with its allies in Afghanistan, won't budge for a piece of the former empire's confetti [Georgia] and perhaps not even in case of a more serious invasion. Especially since the new American leaders, starting in November, are likely to mobilize all their forces on domestic affairs.




And by the way, what is NATO? It was intended to consolidate the capitalist countries of Western Europe and the United States to defend against a supposed Soviet attack, which everyone knew to be unlikely as soon as a certain level of nuclear symmetry had been achieved. From the moment the USSR had disappeared and Russia, somewhat weakened, no longer threatened anyone, what use did it serve?


Absolutely none! Other than for its members to serve, when needed, to supplement the United States. How did we expect Putin to feel about the rush of new E.U. members to join NATO? And how could Russia have reacted except with a sense of feeling trampled upon, to see former members of the Soviet Union like Georgia and Ukraine, apply to join NATO?




It's understandable that history has put anti-Russian terror into the heads of Eastern Europeans, but top political leaders have overcome these fears and have charted both a pro-active European policy as well as a very cautious policy vis--vis their large neighbor, which had every indication of becoming powerful again without being aggressive. Unless of course if it is provoked!


We must thank German and French leaders for managing to delay the integration of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Imagine what the situation would be if Georgia was now a member of this obsolete institution which is supposed to ensure the "security" of its members?


We must work tirelessly to convince our European partners that in the long run, the political integration of East Europe is the best guarantor of security, and incidentally, that we havent welcomed them simply to finance their development or receive their homeless! And we must simultaneously maintain good relations with Russia, which is recovering and which obviously has no desire other to develop and enrich itself with dignity.






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East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 16, 11:13pm]