Friday, August 15, 2008

Bush’s Stern Warning to the Russians

A strong message was made by the US President George W. Bush to the Russians which construe the Georgian-Russian conflict that erupted last week almost at the same time the Beijing Olympics 2008 performed its amazing grand opening ceremony.

The US President delivered his speech outside the oval office on Friday accuses Russia of “bullying and intimidation” which “are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.” A cease-fire deal on August 13 was brokered by French President Nicolas Zarkozy who is also the concurrent president of the European Union.

Tuesday night, shortly before France's leader announced that Georgia had accepted a Russian-French plan to end the conflict, presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia showed their support as they appeared and stood with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at a massive rally in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, attended by thousands of cheering crowds.

However, at CNN's “Larry King Live” Thursday, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday "there is no doubt" that Georgia provoked the clash. It was only thereafter that Russia moved additional forces into South Ossetia in response to "devastation" in the South Ossetia city of Tskhinvali. In response to this, the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who also appeared on that same program, said he was "profoundly shocked" that Mikhail Gorbachev would use a television appearance "for basically vindicating lies and deceptions."

Last week, Georgia said it launched an operation into its breakaway province of South Ossetia after a cease-fire was broken with artillery fire from Russian separatists that killed 10 people including civilians and peacekeepers – a Mission which is composed of Russians, Ossetians and Georgians set up by the OSCE in 1992. It accused Russia, which also has peacekeepers in the region, of backing the separatists. Hours later, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian authorities said 10 Russian peacekeepers had been killed and 30 wounded in an attack by Georgians.

Furious over Russia's invasion of Georgia, the United States boycotted preparatory meetings Tuesday for a NATO meeting with Russia, and has canceled as well an annual NATO naval exercise with Russian forces in the northern Pacific, scheduled this month. Washington and its allies also are discussing and considering whether to drop Moscow from the Group of Eight industrialized economic powers. An American official said that Russia, in its current situation, has "much more to lose" than the Soviet Union did when it invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968.

More than a million US dollar worth of ‘humanitarian aid’ – 16 pallets of medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, cots and other essential items has arrived on August 13 and 14 in Tblisi from Ramstein Air Base, Germany expedited by the joint military effort of EUCOM, U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe via two-plane loads of Globemaster C-17. This is to help reduce the sufferings of the displaced Georgian people estimated to be 120,000 to date.

As of this writing, the beleaguered Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili signed a cease-fire agreement who made an emotional statement standing beside US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, saying he will "never, ever surrender" in the showdown with Russia, and he accused the West of inviting Russian aggression by denying Georgia a door to NATO membership.

In a news conference at the Russian resort of Sochi on the Black Sea, German Chancellor Angela Merkel who met with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, a few hours earlier said that Moscow needed to pull its troops out of Georgia, though she added that "both sides are probably to blame" for the conflict. She left open the possibility that Georgia could still join NATO, though analysts have suggested that the likelihood of the country's accession was now very slim.

Meanwhile at Warsaw on Thursday, the United States and Poland struck a deal to deepen military ties and place a missile interceptor base in Poland. As Western leaders engaged in intense diplomacy to persuade Russia to pull troops out of Georgia, a warning was made by top Russian general, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian general staff that Poland could face attack over its missile defense deal with the United States.

Last April, the United States has also reached an agreement with the Czech government to place a radar component of the shield in that country, yet such deal still needs approval from Czech parliament.

On August 14, Moscow also clashed with Georgia's ally Ukraine over the movements of Russia's Black Sea fleet after Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko decreed Russian warships obtain permission before entering or leaving their base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol – in which under a 1997 lease agreement, Russia's Black Sea Fleet can remain in its historic base in this Crimean port until 2017. He even calls his Russian counterpart to launch talks on an accord about the fleet saying Russia's use of the fleet in fighting to neighboring Georgia "showed how Ukraine can be very easily dragged ... into an international conflict against its will."

Considering the chain of events in this tiny Caucasus nation wherein a sledgehammer was used to kill a fly, what do Russian bombings mean to the Democratic Republic of Georgia?

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