Thursday, August 14, 2008

Krauthammer, Kagan and the Situation in Georgia

Map above is reproduced from the Institute For The Study of War

Ruissia has gone far beyond the borders of South Ossetia and the breakaway province of Abkhazia, occupying Gori, splitting Georgia in two and stopping not far short of the Geogian capital of Tiblisi while Russia's navy blockades Georgia's ports. Russia's goals appear to be rid Georgia of its democratic government, gain control of the country as a satellite, send a message to all other former Soviet satellites, embarress NATO and gain control of the vitally important oil pipeline running through Georgia. Krauthammer has weighed in with his assessment of possible responses. Fred Kagan has thoroughly analyzed the situation and the ramifications of the cease fire signed by Georgia.

The latest information from CNN is that Russian troops still occupy Gori and have now occupied the Black Sea port of Goti. Russia has added an aditional 5,000 troops, bringing their forces inside Georgia to 15,000.

This from Charles Krauthammer on potential responses to the Russian action. Interestingly, he does not mention NATO:

The Russia-Georgia cease-fire brokered by France’s president is less than meets the eye. Its terms keep moving as the Russian army keeps moving. Russia has since occupied Gori (appropriately, Stalin’s birthplace), effectively cutting Georgia in two. The road to the capital, Tbilisi, is open, but apparently Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has temporarily chosen to seek his objectives through military pressure and Western acquiescence rather than by naked occupation.

His objectives are clear. They go beyond detaching South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia and absorbing them into Russia. They go beyond destroying the Georgian army, leaving the country at Russia’s mercy.

The real objective is the Finlandization of Georgia through the removal of President Mikheil Saakashvili and his replacement by a Russian puppet.

. . . The Finlandization of Georgia would give Russia control of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which is the only significant European-bound route for Caspian Sea oil and gas that does not go through Russia. Pipelines are the economic lifelines of such former Soviet republics as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan that live off energy exports. Moscow would become master of the Caspian basin.

Subduing Georgia has an additional effect. It warns Russia’s former Baltic and East European satellites what happens if you get too close to the West. It is the first step to re-establishing Russian hegemony in the region.

What is to be done? Let’s be real. There’s nothing to be done militarily. What we can do is alter Putin’s cost-benefit calculations.

We are not without resources. There are a range of measures to be deployed if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.

2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin’s dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.

4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.

All of these steps (except dissolution of the G-8, which should be irreversible) would be subject to reconsideration depending upon Russian action — most importantly and minimally, its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The most crucial and unconditional measure, however, is this: Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.

. . . Bush is dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France and Georgia. Not a moment too soon. Her task must be to present these sanctions, get European agreement on as many as possible and begin imposing them, calibrated to Russian behavior. And most important of all, to prevent any Euro-wobbliness on the survival of Georgia’s democratically elected government.

We have cards. We should play them. Much is at stake.

Read the entire article. Fred Kagan, writing at the Institute For The Study Of War, has been providing regular updates on the situation in Georgia. Tuesday, he posted a thorough analysis of the situation and the ramifications of the cease fire agreement signed by Russia and Georgia:

. . . The military situation is NOT a return to the status quo ante:

- Russian air attacks and ground fighting have severely degraded the Georgian military, so that it is not in any way comparable to the force Georgia had before the fighting began; Russian losses have been trivial in comparison with Russia’s military power

- The agreement does not appear to contain provisions for the presence of Georgian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, even though the 1992 agreement by which Russian forces are there stipulated a tripartite peacekeeping force. . . .

The political/diplomatic situation is also not a return to the status quo ante:

- Although the agreement requires both sides to enter negotiations about the future status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian leadership has repeatedly declared that it will not negotiate with Saakashvili, that Saakashvili is no longer a “partner,” and so on, so the terms of the negotiation will be very different from those that existed before this conflict.

- The Russian Attorney General has declared that Russia can charge Saakashvili or any other Georgian official with crimes under Russian law, and an investigative commission has been set up in Vladikavkaz to make the case.

- The Russian leadership has repeatedly declared that it cannot see any circumstance in which Abkhazia and South Ossetia would “return” to Georgian state control.

- The international agreement on the non-use of force the Russians just compelled Saakashvili to sign now also has the imprimatur of the European Union, since it was presented by Sarkozy in his capacity as EU president—previously it had been a document under negotiation between Georgia and Russia without external participation.

- In sum, there has been no compromise. Russia has imposed its demands upon Georgia by force, under coercion, and in the midst of partial military occupation, under the auspices of the European Union.

The Russians have also established several principles and precedents:

- That Russia has the right to respond to conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia by strategic attack against Georgia

- That Russia has the right to use its military force to bomb and invade the undisputed sovereign territory of a neighbor for the purpose of defending the “dignity and lives of Russian citizens,” which was the basis that Medvedev has repeatedly advanced for the operation

- That Russian Federation law extends to cover all Russian citizens, wherever they might be located.

- That Russian Federation law can be used to bring charges against non-Russian citizens who are not resident in Russia for crimes not committed on Russian territory, if their actions are “against the interests of the Russian Federation.”

- That Russian military forces can take pre-emptive action, including ground occupation, to protect themselves from the possibility of danger posed by foreign forces on foreign soil.

- This is a little tricky, but it is important. Russian troops may or may not have occupied Gori, although they certainly bombed it. But the Russian Ministry of Defense officially announced that the Russian command in Abkhazia had issued an ultimatum to Georgian forces in Zugdidi, in Georgian territory outside of the Abkhazian border, and then attacked and occupied Zugdidi, all under the pretext of establishing a “security zone” to prevent any possible “repetition” in Abkhazia of what had happened in South Ossetia. The Georgians have made no hostile move in Abkhazia throughout this crisis—on the contrary, the Abkhazians, with Russian support, launched an unprovoked offensive against Georgian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and drove them out. The Russians clearly courted an opportunity to establish the principle that they can occupy Georgian territory preemptively, even when the Georgians have made no hostile move in the area.

Read the entire report.

Read the entire post.


Anonymous said...

I see nothing in Krauthammer's suggestions that will deter/bring Russia to heel in the short term. They have too much to gain in Georgia. The only really effective soft power lever the West may have over the Russians would be to stop buying their oil, but that ain't gonna happen. I hate to be a pessimist, but we are playing the entire scenario from a postion of weakness and Putin knows it.

White Tiger said...

While I was reading all this comments, only one thing I could say - it's so easy for you to talk about everything until you're staying at U.S. We invite you to come to South Ossetia and see the real situation. Not "the Truth", that telling you your goverment. Do you know that in your media wasn't any information at that day when Georgia attacked South Ossetia first? Nobody shows you ossetian's people, who were killed in South Ossetia by Georgian army.
What do you know - is only that things that your goverment wants you to know. If you come to Gory - you will see that there no destroyed buildings accept military constructions. And then come to Tskinwal and see what Georgian army'd done with this toun. The town destroyed fully, there no any untouched buildings. Women, children, old people were killed, some of them were burned in their houses, in churchs, in schools. A lot of young women were taken by Georgian army and nobody knows where they are. I didn't see at your "Wolf howlin" any choice to translate your information for russian people. Actually, it's so comfortable not to know russian at all! Why! They're evil. Of course they want to destroy all the World because they have their own COSA NOSTRA and bears at the streets. Try to learn russian and try to understand another position. Then tell your own truth.