Georgia/Russia: The neighbours will talk


The presidents of Poland and the Baltic states — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia — release a joint statement on the Russian invasion of Georgia. The statement contains a direct rebuke of NATO for putting Georgian accession to NATO on the slow track:

We regret that not granting of the NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia was seen as a green light for agression in the region.

And, perhaps crucially, the statement closes with this (slightly wonkily-translated) open invitation:

This Declaration is open for the accession by the leaders of other democratic countries.”

So there’s an option for, say, Canada’s prime minister, if he shares the analysis of its Central and Eastern European colleagues.

I wouldn’t sign it, because I disagree with the paragraph I cite above. But the prime minister has, on occasion, sought to get noticed in what’s sometimes called New Europe. Here’s his chance…


Georgia/Russia: The neighbours will talk

  1. You disagree because you don’t regret it, or because you don’t agree that it was seen as a green light?

  2. I don’t see it as a green light because I don’t think the opposite action — giving Georgia a MAP — would have been a red light. Russia would have responded the same way in either case.

  3. Well, since the point of the exercise is to screw as much out of the “New Europe” as possible without being too commital about such stuff as rushing to their defence if attacked by the Russkies, why would Harper want to sign on to that document?

    Russians come out of this looking both brutal and clever. U.S. looking weak and incompetent. Did Paul Wells EVER say anything nice about the Bush administration? If so, he should apologize now.

  4. bigcitylib, I disagree … I think they may have won Georgia with hard power, but they’ve lost influence in the rest of the region by their heavy-handedness. Look for Ukraine to join NATO on an accelerated schedule.

  5. I am sure even with granting of MAP Russia would have acted the way it has done. And let us be clear that, even if it was granted, no NATO member can dare to intervine. Russia is powerful militarily but the western have the power of media which otherwise doesnt terrorise Russia. Let Russia defend its people.

  6. Russian citizenship is the new oil. And the price is dropping! You CAN run cars on that shit!

  7. Are there major disputed regions bordering Russia in any of their other neighbours? ‘Cause I’m not sure what else to call it, but I think Russia just annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and other countries bordering Russia must be wary of a repeat.

    I mean, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were Georgian territory, and the Russians have kicked the Georgians out and I’d imagine will never let them back in again. They’re even apparently going to insist on an additional buffer zone being established further inside Georgia. Does anyone think “annexation” is too radical a word for what has effectively happened?

    We’ll see what the “buffer zones” end up looking like long term, but it seems to me at least plausible that the effective sovereign borders of Georgia are now about 50-100 km further south of where they were last week. More important from a Russia strategic point of view, the effective “Russian side” of the border is now on the other side of the mountains.

    Seems to me the Russians can leave Georgia alone now, having established that Georgia’s government is basically not allowed to enforce its sovereignty within site of their legal border with Russia.

  8. Saakashvili has announced that Georgia will be leaving the Commonwealth of Independent States (shocker!). I wonder if any of Russia’s other CIS neighbours might follow suit (that’s Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine).

    I guess it all depends on whether Russia’s other neighbours will subsequently move further from Russia diplomatically (’cause they’re scared) or closer to Russia diplomatically (’cause they’re scared).

  9. Oh, and I love that Saakashvili called the pullout from the CIS the “final adios” to the Soviet Union.

    Shouldn’t it be the final “до свидания”? (with apologies if Google mangled that translation!).

  10. Lord Kitchener’s Own: “Are there major disputed regions bordering Russia in any of their other neighbours? ‘Cause I’m not sure what else to call it, but I think Russia just annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and other countries bordering Russia must be wary of a repeat.”


    Very similar situation as the Abkhazia/Ossetia one, actually—a boundary rejigged during Soviet times to move an area from the Russian SSR to an outer SSR, attempts made as the USSR collapsed to try and move it back, and all this basically prompted by the ethnic minority living there preferring to throw their lot in with Russians rather than the ethnic majority in their nominal state.

    The difference is that where Georgia was unable to pacify and occupy Abkhazia/Ossetia in 1991, Ukraine managed to hang onto Crimea and dangle an autonomy arrangement as a carrot.

    Adding to the fun there is that the Russian Black Sea fleet is parked at a leased naval base in Sevastopol that they’re only allowed to hang onto until 2017, and the current Ukrainian government has said that the lease won’t be renewed (and would probably like to evict them tomorrow if it were possible).

  11. Interestingly, the current “peace plan” being worked on mentions that Georgia would return its armed forces to their normal and permanent locations, which I presume would mean right up against the separatist regions, but not in them. Which seems reasonable, and while I still think it means those regions have effectively been annexed by Russia, at least it doesn’t APPEAR that Russia is still looking for additional “buffer zones” deeper into Georgian territory.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Georgia’s de facto border has been re-drawn, but at least it appears as though they may be able to exercise full sovereignty within their new border.

    And Tom, the Ukraine issue IS very interesting, particularly since Ukraine threatened to prevent Russian ships involved in the hostilities with Georgia from returning to their Crimean bases (though, tellingly, I don’t think they mentioned just HOW they planned to stop them!). It made me wonder if Ukraine might follow Georgia’s lead and leave the CIS.

  12. Very interesting discussion, I’m pleased to see that there is some intelligent life still to be found on this planet. Someone previously asked if there were other disputed areas in surrounding nations. Estonia has a very large population of Russians who would very much like to be included within the borders of Mother Russia without having to do the right thing and just leave Estonia. Latvia also has a significant Russian population which has no desire to relocate. I’m certain they too would not be disappointed if Mother Russia could devise another plan to absorb them. Lithuania ‘hosts’ a lesser population of ethnic Russians. But Lithuania has always been viewed as a thorn in Russia’s side. No doubt in my mind that Putin and his henchmen would like to focus their attention there should an opportunity present itself. Belarus has a large
    Russian population. The countrymen are divided in reaction to their presence. Some admire Russia for all of it’s ‘wonderful’ attributes and others are struggling to retain their native language and culture. Russia is probably not inclined to make trouble there just yet as the goverment and subsequently the population of Belarus is still mired in the ‘Soviet Style’
    government that has remained even after the fall of the Soviet Empire.

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