T Nation

What Russia Wants

"Russia�??s actions in Georgia are not much different from the typical conduct of other great powers�??including the United States�??in their neighborhoods. A few weeks before the onset of the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted that the notion of �??spheres of influence�?? in world affairs was obsolete. That argument was either naïve or hypocritical. Certainly, Washington�??s conduct in the Western Hemisphere suggests that U.S. officials have not abandoned their belief in an American sphere of influence. Since World War II, the United States has invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, and Haiti. Washington orchestrated a successful coup against the government of Guatemala and tried to do the same both to Fidel Castro�??s regime in Cuba and the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. It is a bit much for American leaders to admonish the Russians not to molest small, hostile neighbors.

Moscow is also increasingly angry at the West�??s repeated disdain for Russian policy preferences�??indeed, core Russian interests�??in Europe. The insensitivity of the United States and its allies was already apparent in the mid-1990s, with the effort to expand NATO by adding Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. That move violated assurances given to the Kremlin when Mikhail Gorbachev�??s government agreed to the reunification of Germany and continued German membership in NATO. Secretary of State James Baker assured Russian officials that the alliance would not expand eastward from Germany.

Not content with that provocation, in 2004 the U.S. pushed through NATO�??s incorporation of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, entities that had been part of the Soviet Union. And NATO expansion is not the only manifestation of contempt for Russia�??s interests. So is Western policy in the Balkans, traditionally a key region for Moscow. In 1995, NATO forces intervened in Bosnia�??s civil war to undermine the Serbs, Russia�??s coreligionists and longstanding political allies. Then in 1999, the United States and its allies waged an air war against Serbia, ultimately wrenching away its province of Kosovo. They bypassed the UN Security Council to do so, thereby evading a Russian veto.

That result illustrates the limits of Moscow�??s power. Russia may be capable of establishing a modest sphere of influence along its perimeter, but it does not have the strength to reconstitute the Soviet empire�??much less pose an expansionist threat to the heart of Europe as the USSR did during the Cold War. American opinion leaders need to curb their alarmism. Moscow�??s conduct in Georgia may have been brutal, but it is not out of the norm for a great power to discipline an upstart small neighbor. There is no credible evidence that Moscow has massive expansionist impulses. And even if it did, Russia lacks the power to achieve such goals. Russia is not the Soviet Union, and it certainly is not the equivalent of Nazi Germany. U.S. policymakers need to take a deep breath, accept that Russia has returned to the ranks of major powers, and realize that Washington can no longer ignore, much less trample on, core Russian interests. The sooner they make that course correction, the better."

Well… if Kosovo wanted and received independence, why shouldn’t South Ossetia?

[quote]Maximillian wrote:
Well… if Kosovo wanted and received independence, why shouldn’t South Ossetia?[/quote]

Independence? Are you serious? The Russians control it and they want more.

Don’t spout taking points and try to understand the situation.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Maximillian wrote:
Well… if Kosovo wanted and received independence, why shouldn’t South Ossetia?

Independence? Are you serious? The Russians control it and they want more.

Don’t spout taking points and try to understand the situation.[/quote]

Russia population is declining.

Russia cannot, and will not, ignore the 20 million ethnic Russians living outside her borders.

Since they cannot, and do not want to be, ignored by Russia there is very little anyone can do to prevent them from re-uniting.

End of story really, just like the Kosovo is situated right next to Albania.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Maximillian wrote:
Well… if Kosovo wanted and received independence, why shouldn’t South Ossetia?

Independence? Are you serious? The Russians control it and they want more.

Don’t spout taking points and try to understand the situation.[/quote]

Excuse me? It sounds like you’re the one confused.

Before Russia has done anything, Georgia sent troops into SO to reclaim their territorial integrity since SO was damn near its own country within Georgia.

What Russia is doing is basically a counterpunch to what America has done in Serbia.

But all of this land was once Russia’s territory. This may be one small step in the total reconstitution of what was once called the Soviet Union.

The USA never had territorial claims in Kosovo nor was it ever a colony or a state.

[quote]orion wrote:
Since they cannot, and do not want to be, ignored by Russia there is very little anyone can do to prevent them from re-uniting.

[/quote]

Reminds me of Germany’s objectives prior to World War II.

And somewhat of modern day China.

[quote]Maximillian wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Maximillian wrote:
Well… if Kosovo wanted and received independence, why shouldn’t South Ossetia?

Independence? Are you serious? The Russians control it and they want more.

Don’t spout taking points and try to understand the situation.

Excuse me? It sounds like you’re the one confused.

Before Russia has done anything, Georgia sent troops into SO to reclaim their territorial integrity since SO was damn near its own country within Georgia.

What Russia is doing is basically a counterpunch to what America has done in Serbia.[/quote]

You have no idea. Russia provoked Georgia by having South Ossetia shell Georgia, when Georgia responded Russia attacked.