Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Russian Land Grab Continues

With the Russians stating their intention to continue to occupy the Black Sea port of Goti, it is becoming ever clearer that this has less to do with "peacekeeping," and more to do with resurgent Russian imperialism.

Russia interprets the cease-fire accord as allowing it to keep a substantial military presence in Georgia because of earlier peacekeeping agreements that ended fighting in the separatist areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the 1990s.

But even though Poti is completely outside the buffer zone for Abkhazia, Nogovitsyn said Russian troops are not leaving and will patrol the city.

"Poti is not in the security zone, but that doesn't mean that we will sit behind the fence and watch as they drive around in Hummers," Nogovitsyn said, making an acid reference to four U.S. Humvees the Russians seized in Poti this week. The vehicles were used in previous joint U.S.-Georgian military exercises.

The comment about the Hummers is clearly intended to tweak the Bush administration, whose overheated rhetoric has done nothing to ease the situation.

The US should not cower before the Russian bear, but it should treat the Russians with respect. For years, we have failed to take into account Russian sensibilities on a range of issues. Diplomacy and tact could have been used to secure much better results than the Bush administration's policy of arrogance and neglect.