Nato row over ex-Soviet state member bids By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow Last Updated: 8:53pm BST 01/04/2008
NATO is facing a damaging split after western European countries vowed to defy the United States by blocking the membership of Georgia and Ukraine in an attempt to mollify Russia.
Bush defies Russia over Nato membership Cameron warns over Nato backing France to provide more troops for Afghanistan The row threatens to overshadow a crucial summit in Bucharest this week, reviving memories of bitter divisions between "old" and "new" Europe in the months before the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Angela Merkel publicly stated her opposition to membership for Georgia and Ukraine Nato's largest ever meeting, which begins on Wednesday, was supposed to focus on efforts led by the United States to convince members to increase troops in Afghanistan.
Instead, Germany and its allies are facing accusations of "appeasing" Russia from former Soviet states which want to join the alliance.
With Vladimir Putin, the outgoing Russian president, guest of honour at the summit on Friday, Germany wants to use the opportunity to improve the West's crisis-ridden relationship with Moscow.
In a recent change of tack, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, publicly stated her opposition to membership for Georgia and Ukraine. Both have pro-Western leaders who were swept to power after peaceful popular revolutions.
Mrs Merkel has formed a coalition of up to 12 western European states, including France, who are likely to oppose membership for the two countries. Gordon Brown has stayed pointedly silent.
The German Chancellor called for Nato to form a united front on the issue. Her demand drew condemnation from Mikhail Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, who likened it to the Munich Agreement of 1938 in which European powers agreed to allow Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland.
"I think this is a very, very wrong argument," said Mr Saakashvili. "Nato united around what? Around appeasement? We've seen Europe united once like this in this last century and we saw where it led.
"Appeasement is seen there [Russia] as a signal that they should act even tougher, and they will be more aggressive and provocative," he told The Financial Times.
The applications of Georgia and Ukraine have won the support of former Warsaw Pact countries as well as the United States. President George Bush, who is struggling to maintain his international relevance in the dying months of his presidency, flew to Ukraine to deliver a symbolic message of support.
"I believe that Nato benefits, and Ukraine and Georgia benefit, if and when there is membership," he said.
But with one veto enough to scupper the first step towards accession, the countries' chances look slim.
Mr Putin has in the past punished Georgia and Ukraine for their pro-Western policies, imposing harsh economic sanctions on both nations when they tried to loosen their dependence on Moscow.
Sensing the advantage may be turning in its favour, the Kremlin has promised Mr Putin will strike a more constructive tone than he has in the past. The president is expected to offer Nato troops bound for Afghanistan rights to fly over Russia if Ukraine and Georgia are locked out of the organisation.
But Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, struck a more menacing tone.
"Washington is infiltrating the former Soviet Union more and more actively, with Ukraine and Georgia being the most vivid examples," said Mr Lavrov. "They are being impudently drawn into Nato.
"We honestly say that this cannot but have consequences, first of all in geopolitics but also economically."
Hoping for a fresh start when Dmitry Medvedev, Mr Putin's successor, is inaugurated as president next month, western European nations are likely to ignore the threats.
Post by viktorthegreat on Apr 1, 2008 16:27:10 GMT -5
They also plan to talk about expanding the number of troops NATO has in Afghanistan. ______________________________
I'm disapointed that Macedonia wants to join Nato and is probably going to probably expand number of troops in Afganistan and Iraq. Though no Soldiers died yet, theres always that risk. Nato only offers death to those important troops.
Pro-Russia enemies of Nato give Bush a mixed reception in Ukraine
Tony Halpin in Kiev As workmen painted fresh lines on the road from the airport to the centre of Kiev to welcome President Bush to Ukraine yesterday, diehard opponents of Nato were staging their own reception party.
About 3,000 Communist and Socialist party supporters rallied in Independence Square, the scene of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in the capital, carrying Soviet-era flags and banners that read â€œUkraine against Natoâ€ and â€œNato is worse than the Gestapoâ€, while an effigy of Mr Bush was set on fire.
Mr Bush arrives for his first visit to Kiev, before tomorrowâ€™s opening of the Nato summit in Romania, determined to show his support for Ukraineâ€™s ambition to join the alliance despite strong opposition from Russia. However, Nato membership is controversial here, with many in the pro-Russian east of the country opposed to joining what they consider to be an enemy organisation.
â€œNato is fascism â€“ look how they bombed Yugoslavia. They are occupying Afghanistan, and America has destroyed Iraq,â€ Vasily, 70, who served in the Soviet Army for 27 years, said. â€œWe want nothing to do with it; we are for Russia and Russia is for us.â€
Mikhail Toporov, 70, said that he supported Nato membership. He told The Times: â€œDuring the war I ate American bread and they helped us a lot, but everybody has forgotten that now. Nato is not our enemy.â€
President Yushchenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister and his ally in the 2004 revolution, regard Nato membership as a key to Ukrainian security and independence. Russia, however, views Nato expansion as a threat and President Putin said recently that Moscow would aim its nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joined the alliance.
Despite Mr Bushâ€™s support, Nato is split over offering an action plan to Ukraine and Georgia setting out the steps necessary for membership. President Basescu of Romania has urged members to give them â€œthe chance to accomplish their wishâ€, but invitations must be offered unanimously, and Germany, Spain and Italy are among the opponents.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said: â€œA country should become a Nato member not only when its temporary political leadership is in favour but when a significant percentage of the population supports membership,â€ Georgia has offered to send a 500-strong force to join Natoâ€™s operations in Afghanistan, an unnamed source in the Defence Ministry said yesterday. It has contributed no troops to Afghanistan, although 2,000 are serving in Iraq as part of the USled coalition.
Mr Putin will attend the Romania summit and hold further talks with Mr Bush at the Russian resort of Sochi afterwards. Russia is offering increased cooperation with Nato over Afghanistan provided its security interests are taken into account
Putin, in Last Foreign Outing As Russia's President, Seeks to Put Brakes on Expansion by NATO
VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV AP News
Mar 31, 2008 13:55 EST
This week's NATO summit in Romania will be Vladimir Putin's last appearance at a top-level international forum before he steps down as Russian president, still pushing to halt NATO's expansion into the stomping grounds of the former Soviet Union.
The Kremlin realizes it doesn't have the power to force the West to reverse its recognition of Kosovo's independence or persuade Washington to drop its plan to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.
But Putin has had notable success in blocking NATO membership for its former Soviet neighbors â€” Ukraine and Georgia.
"Georgia's accession into NATO will be seen here as an attempt to trigger a war in the Caucasus, and NATO membership for Ukraine will be interpreted as an effort to foment a conflict with Russia," said Sergei Markov, a Russian parliament member with close links to the Kremlin.
Amid a litany of such threats from Moscow, some NATO members are reluctant to inflame tensions at the three-day summit that begins Wednesday in Bucharest.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said admitting the two countries to NATO was "not a matter of whether, but when." However, he said the launch of the membership process might be delayed at this week's gathering.
NATO decisions are made by consensus, and there is no hiding the divisions over whether to put Ukraine and Georgia formally on the road to membership. While Washington and new NATO members in central and eastern Europe strongly support it, Germany and some European partners are opposed.
Last week diplomats at NATO headquarters, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the summit would likely produce a statement of support for the Ukrainian and Georgian bids and an offer of increased cooperation, but no more than that.
"Many alliance members would prefer to avoid a move which would badly damage relations with Russia," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs.
The fact that Putin is attending the summit of former Cold War enemies is a powerful image of a world transformed. He is not going to sit in on the discussions, but to join the alliance leaders for brief talks about Russia-NATO relations on the last day, assuming it is clear by then that the Ukrainian and Georgian membership bids have been shelved.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kremlin has watched in frustration as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has spread to Russia's borders by taking in three former Soviet republics and six former satellite countries.
For both historical and strategic reasons, membership for Ukraine and Georgia provoke the strongest resistance.
Putin has responded to Western policies by resuming strategic bomber patrols, sending a naval squadron into the Mediterranean in the most ambitious deployment since the Cold War, and warning that Russia might point its nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joins NATO and hosts a missile defense system.
Ukraine is deeply divided, with its western regions backing NATO membership and the Russian-speaking east and south fiercely opposing it.
"We aren't going to just sit down and watch our people being dragged into NATO like slaves," said Markov, the Russian legislator.
Georgia's bid, meanwhile, is undermined by unresolved conflicts in two breakaway provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow has developed close ties with both, and Russia's Kremlin-controlled parliament has called for "speeding up" sovereignty for the secessionists if Georgia's NATO bid goes forward.
"If Georgia joins NATO, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will come to Russia's doorstep, pleading to save them from NATO," said Alexander Konovalov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for Strategic Assessment. "Russia will be forced to recognize their independence, even though it doesn't want to do so."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov left Russia's tactical position unclear Monday. "We cannot ignore the opinion of the parliament" on the separatist regions, he said, but "President Putin has stated numerous times that he stands for the territorial integrity of Georgia."
The Kremlin's defiance is encouraged by eight years of Russia's oil-driven economic boom that filled government coffers with petrodollars.
Putin says newly elected President Dmitry Medvedev, whom he will serve as prime minister, will be no less firm about defending Russia's national interests. Medvedev spoke strongly against NATO's expansion to Russia's borders in a recent interview.
Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy head of the USA and Canada Institute, a Moscow-based think tank, said that if NATO keeps its hands off Georgia and Ukraine, Putin will likely be more cooperative in his last five weeks as president and offer to boost cooperation with the alliance.
There are also hopes for easing the dispute over missile defense.
U.S. officials have proposed allowing Moscow to closely monitor the prospective missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and after the summit Bush will visit Putin at his Black Sea residence in Sochi in hopes of resolving the dispute.
But Lukyanov doubts Russia will give ground until the Bush administration is gone.
Source: AP News
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Post by White Cossack on Apr 1, 2008 22:45:50 GMT -5
Ukraina already??? this is madness now they reached a country that has border with russia..now russia Must force Georgian and Ukrainian government to stay loyal or threaten them with invasion or bombardment..since a NATO state in the south would cost even more lives on our side.
Post by slavfighter91 on Apr 2, 2008 7:53:46 GMT -5
yeah sorry for saying it like that..but honestly i dont mean really bombing them..but we must htreaten the rats who want to give away slavic soil to our enemies...or on the other hand just like CIA did so long ago russia could infiltrate other countries governments and make them puppet states. Anyway im not too much into politics im for simplae and radical solutions
So Bush again makes a fool of himsel. The Washington again demonstrates its impotence. NATO admits to its weakness. Had they kept quiet they wouldn`t be humilated right now, but they had to go and bark around.
NATO puts off membership plan for Georgia, Ukraine 15:52 | 03/ 04/ 2008
BUCHAREST, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - NATO members meeting at a summit in Romania have decided to postpone offering the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan (MAP).
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the alliance, said on Thursday that in making its decision on Ukraine, NATO had taken into account the fact that the majority of the country's population was opposed to NATO membership.
As for Georgia, he continued, countries with "blurry" borders are not admitted to NATO, since the North Atlantic alliance "does not consider it appropriate to have to deal with Georgia's territorial disputes."
Georgia does not fully control its territory due to so-called frozen conflicts in its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which have recently appealed to Russia for recognition.
For countries to join MAP, a precursor to membership in the military alliance, all 26 allies must give their approval. However, concerns voiced by France and Germany that bringing Russia's neighbors into the alliance would unnecessarily provoke Moscow seem to have swung the argument in favor of the 'no' camp.
Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to membership of NATO for neighboring Ukraine and Georgia. Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier threatened to retarget Russian missiles at Kiev if Ukraine joined the alliance.
U.S. President George Bush had campaigned strongly for MAP for Ukraine and Georgia, visiting Kiev on the eve of the Bucharest summit for talks with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko.
"My country's position is clear - NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan," Bush said.
He also looked to assuage Russia's fear of NATO's possible eastward expansion, saying, "The Cold War is over. Russia is not our enemy. We are looking to a new security relationship with Russia."
The secretary general of the North Atlantic alliance said however that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become NATO members.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said NATO leaders endorsed Ukraine and Georgia's accession to the Membership Action Plan, but that NATO would reconsider Georgia and Ukraine's bid to join MAP in December.
President Putin is set to arrive in Bucharest later today to attend the NATO summit as a guest.
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Lukashenko says NATO expansion inevitable 16:50 | 03/ 04/ 2008
MINSK, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the admission of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO was inevitable, and that Belarus should strengthen its defense capacity accordingly.
NATO members meeting at a summit in Romania have decided to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the alliance's Membership Action Plan (MAP). NATO's secretary general later said however that the former Soviet republics would eventually be invited to join.
"The issue of Ukraine and Georgia's membership of NATO is merely a matter of time," Lukashenko, dubbed 'Europe's last dictator' by Washington, told a news conference in Minsk.
"We need to think about strengthening our defense capacity," he added.
"Our armed forces are all the Belarus-Russia Union State has in the west," he said, adding that Belarus, as a party to a military agreement with Russia, would defend the Union's western borders should the need arise.
"The treaty with Russia is sacred thing, and we will implement it without fail. Russia also fulfills its commitments and provides us with a reliable shield, including nuclear, in line with this treaty," Lukashenko said.
The U.S. and the European Union have accused Lukashenko of clamping down on dissent, stifling the media and rigging elections. Lukashenko, who was re-elected to a third term in 2006, and other senior Belarusian officials have been blacklisted from entering the U.S. and EU.
Tensions between the U.S. and Belarus heightened after Washington imposed sanctions last November against Belarus's state-controlled petrochemical company Belneftekhim and froze the assets of its U.S. subsidiary.
The U.S. ambassador to Belarus also 'temporarily' left Minsk last month following an official recommendation that she leave the country
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Russia's problems nudge Afghanistan off the map Putin's grievances in Eastern Europe and Balkans will make it hard for Harper to get world leaders' attention at NATO summit
April 2, 2008
BRUSSELS -- While Prime Minister Stephen Harper will enter the Bucharest NATO summit today with hat in hand, seeking 1,000 troops needed to prevent Canada from withdrawing from Afghanistan, he may be surprised to discover that the other 25 member nations are instead focused on another visitor with very different deals in mind.
The imposing figure of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has overshadowed most other matters in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's crucial gathering. As the 59-year-old alliance prepares to expand onto Russia's doorstep with a proposal to put Ukraine and Georgia on the path to membership, and disputes with Russia dominate Europe's military agenda, the enormous problems of Afghanistan are slipping into the shadows.
"Ottawa is very, very focused on Afghanistan, to the exclusion of everything else, but seen from here, this is a very different summit," a top NATO official said at the organization's sprawling Brussels headquarters yesterday as he prepared to head to Bucharest. "Here, enlargement, the western Balkans and relations with Russia are the significant issues that are taking up all of our time. Most of the Afghan questions have been settled."
For Europeans, who dominate NATO's membership, the looming issues all involve Russia. In interviews with several foreign NATO delegations yesterday, it was clear that their attention is largely focused on matters far to the west of Afghanistan: on Kosovo, where thousands more troops may be needed soon; on Sudan, where the European Union is expanding its peacekeeping force, in what many consider the beginning of a new alliance to compete with NATO; and on Russia's border, where NATO's expansion is an enormously divisive issue.
While U.S. President George W. Bush visited Ukraine yesterday to drum up support for the country's pro-Western government joining NATO, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister FranÃ§ois Fillon have said that they are opposed to Russia's neighbours joining because it would inflame Moscow at a sensitive moment.
The Russian President, who is customarily invited as a guest, is likely to set the agenda from the outset, and his presence will not be merely symbolic: This is an opportunity for the world's powers, and especially the United States, to make deals with him, and he has arrived with bargaining chips. NATO officials said they are prepared to take up Mr. Putin's offer to grant military access to Afghanistan's northern borders through Russia, which would be an important tactical development.
In exchange for this, he will likely ask for concessions on one of the several grievances that will almost certainly dominate his speech on Friday and his news conferences throughout the week. They include anger over NATO's invitation of Russian neighbours Ukraine and Georgia to begin the process of joining the alliance; fury over the February declaration of independence by Kosovo, which has been occupied by NATO troops since 1999; and an angry standoff over a U.S. anti-missile base in the Czech Republic and Poland, which led Russia to withdraw from weapons treaties.
To make matters even more sensitive, a group of five high-level generals from the largest NATO nations, including the United States, France and Britain, are using the summit to promote a position paper calling for NATO to develop first-strike nuclear capability. While a senior NATO figure said that the idea has "no traction whatsoever," the discussion of such a blatantly Cold War-style concept among prominent generals is unlikely to please the Russians.
While the Afghanistan war, which involves 47,000 troops from 40 countries, remains by far the largest issue within NATO, there is a sense among many member nations that there is little left to discuss. On the other hand, no major countries are considering withdrawal from Afghanistan at the moment (Canada's threat to withdraw in 2009 if 1,000 troops aren't delivered is not considered likely by anyone within NATO).
It is here that Mr. Harper will confront a third deal maker seeking to capture NATO's attention. At a dinner tonight, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will promise to expand France's force of 2,500 troops and put them in a more active combat role - exactly how many or where is still not clear - but for most figures in NATO, this "Canadian solution" will be far less interesting than Mr. Sarkozy's other proposals.
In exchange for the troops, Mr. Sarkozy will demand that the approach to the Afghanistan war change to one based on more nation-building and economy-boosting practices, and less heavy combat. "We are going to call for a less feudal, a less medieval approach to the war, where you currently have military forces creating walled-off areas where agriculture only takes place under the occupier's guard," one French official said. "We want to put the economy first."
Mr. Sarkozy is offering to have France rejoin the NATO command structure, from which France withdrew in 1966 in a dispute over U.S. dominance of the alliance. In exchange for taking on this responsibility, France is demanding a greater European role, and thus a reduced U.S. position, in NATO's decision making. France's larger goal, to be put into play when it takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union this summer, will be what is known as the European Security and Defence Policy, a separate EU military force that could become a competitor to NATO.
For years, the United States strongly opposed a separate European defence force, and was able to use its allies within Europe to block it. But after Mr. Sarkozy, a conservative and admirer of the United States, made a peacemaking visit to Washington earlier this year, the United States agreed to drop its opposition to the European defence plan.
But neither Mr. Putin's nor Mr. Sarkozy's promises are likely to produce decisive results in Bucharest this week, and they are likely to create enough noise to make Mr. Harper's urgent request for troops seem secondary.
An expanding alliance
What began as an alliance of countries with strategic interests in the North Atlantic has grown to become an international body spanning three continents and absorbing many of its former enemies.
The 12 founding members, all allies after the Second World War, created the alliance as a bulwark against
the Soviet Union.
The alliance spreads into the Middle East with the acceptance of Turkey, which bridges the divide with Europe and joins at the same time as Greece.
Germany's* entrance into the alliance prompts the Soviet Union to gather eight east European nations into the Warsaw Pact coalition.
Spain's acceptance into the alliance was only possible after it embraced democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco.
For the first time, the alliance welcomes former Warsaw pact countries Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, beginning the shift of allegiances from East to West.
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia join in the biggest expansion, which for the first time welcomes former Soviet republics.
The three Balkan states of Albania, Croatia, Macedonia hope to be invited to join this week. All three already have small contingents of troops serving in NATO-led missions.
Despite objections from Russia, the United States is determined to bring former Soviet states Georgia and Ukraine into the fold. Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina are also up for acceptance.
Nato's expansion is provocative to Russian eyes April 3, 2008 Anatole KALETSKY, Associate Editor of The Times George W. Bush is absolutely wrong in his support for Nato enlargement. That goes without saying. What is more surprising is that Vladimir Putin is absolutely right in both the conclusion and the reasoning behind his outspoken, even threatening, opposition to America on this issue. And that applies with even greater force to Dmitri Medvedev, the incoming Russian president, who has gone farther even than Mr Putin in suggesting that a decision by the West to entertain the membership applications presented by Ukraine and Georgia to the Nato Council would be tantamount to a declaration of cold war.
If a genuine spirit of peaceful co-operation is ever to be created between the West and Europe's most populous country - and what may one day be its biggest economy - then our leaders will have to think much more deeply about the legitimate grievances that Nato's enlargement arouses in Russia.
Ever since the dismemberment of the Soviet Union by Boris Yeltsin in 1991, the enlargement of Nato and the EU towards Russia's western and southern borders has looked like to Russians the last remaining expansionist empire in Europe, perhaps in the world.
While EU enlargement on its own could be presented as an economic enterprise, designed mainly to raise living standards in Central and Eastern Europe and even to increase the potential of Russia's neighbours as trading partners, the combination of the EU and Nato is a very different proposition.
EU-Nato, under the Bush doctrine of continuous eastward expansion, becomes an unstoppable politico-military juggernaut, advancing relentlessly towards Russia's borders and swallowing up all intervening countries, first into the EU's economic and political arrangements and then into the Nato military structure. Considered from the Russian standpoint, Nato's explicit new vocation to keep expanding until it embraces every â€œdemocraticâ€ country in Europe and central Asia, with the unique and critical exception of Russia itself, becomes hard to distinguish from previous expansions into eastern territory by French and German heads of state whose intentions were less benign than those of the present Western leaders.
Western politicians may ridicule such fantasies as Russian nationalist paranoia. But why shouldn't the Russians worry about Western armies and missiles moving ever closer to their borders? This contributes to a territorial encirclement very similar to what Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve by cruder means. The official Western answer is that Nato's expansion is purely defensive, that no Nato country would dream of claiming even an inch of Russian soil. But the feigned innocence of the West's baffled answer to the encirclement protests only intensifies Russia's sense of fear and provocation - and there are at least three reasons why the Russians are right to feel aggrieved.
Russia's first reason for justified resentment relates to the purely â€œdefensiveâ€ nature of Nato's expansion. As President Putin put it in his notorious (to Westerners) or celebrated (to Russians) Munich speech last year: â€œNato expansion does not have any relation with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?â€
Given that Russia is the only country in Europe (or in central Asia) that has been explicitly barred from Nato - and that will remain barred as long as Poland and the Baltic states are members - the only possible enemy implied by the alliance's â€œdefensiveâ€ posture must be Russia itself. Every defence policy statement from Central Europe makes perfectly clear that defence against Russia is the main raison d'Ãªtre of Nato. And given the Polish and Baltic experience of Russian occupation and oppression, it is hardly surprising that they see Nato's mission in a different light from President Bush or Gordon Brown.
Moreover, the anti-Russian motivation for joining Nato is even clearer in the case of Ukraine and Georgia - and this is the second reason why the Russians are right to feel provoked. It may be argued that Ukraine and George are justified in being hostile because Russia has been meddling in their politics ever since they became independent in 1992. In the case of Georgia, this has extended to military support for separatist movements in Abkhazia and Ossetia. In Ukraine, Russia has backed politicians representing the large Russian-speaking minority and allegedly tried to fix elections or even kill politicians on their behalf.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of these allegations, the mutual hostility between Russia and Ukrainian and Georgian nationalists is an undeniable fact of life. If these countries became members of Nato, any Russian interference in their internal affairs would have to be regarded by other Nato members, including America and Britain, as a declaration of war. It is possible to imagine a Russian decision to arm separatists in Abkhazia triggering a latter-day Cuban missile crisis - with potentially devastating results. In this sense, Ukrainian and Georgian admission to Nato, even if it were morally justifiable on the basis of Western democratic values, must also be understood from the Russian standpoint as a hostile act.
But surely democracy must prevail in the West's decisions? Surely the rights of former Soviet states to national self-determination must be defended at all costs, even if this carries a remote risk of military confrontation? But is democracy and self-determination really what Nato membership for these countries would defend?
The main reason why both these countries, whose borders are arbitrary creations of Soviet times, are so eager to join Nato is that they both contain regions that wish to secede. Large numbers of ethnically Russian Ukrainians and Georgians would almost certainly want to rejoin Russia. In the case of Abkhazia and Ossetia, some of these people have gone so far as to start military secessionist movements. If Nato embraces Ukraine and Georgia to guarantee their democratic self-determination, what will be the answer if Russia demands a referendum on secession among the people of Abkhazia or Crimea?
The answer will not depend on morality but on power. Democratic self-determination has never been an inviolable principle of geopolitics - and for very good reasons. This argument is never used, for example, to suggest that Taiwan should be invited to join Nato. Indeed, Taiwan is not even diplomatically recognised by any Nato government, even though the people there have repeatedly voted for autonomy, while China has overtly threatened to retake the island by force.
Why, then should the West offer military guarantees against Russia to Georgia or Ukraine? The reason, of course, is that China is too powerful and important for Western governments to risk provoking, while Russia is perceived as weak and irrelevant.
That perception of weakness, is the third reason why the Russians are right to feel aggrieved - and why Nato should beware of pushing too far. Germany was weaker in the 1920s than Russia is today. But, history shows that weakness doesn't last for ever.
Putin says Russia will support Abkhazia and S. Ossetia 20:57 | 03/ 04/ 2008
MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will provide all the necessary support and assistance to Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said quoting President Vladimir Putin.
Georgia is seeking to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which proclaimed independence following the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Tbilisi accuses Moscow of encouraging separatism and interfering in its internal affairs.
"The Russian president stressed that Russia is not unsympathetic to the aspirations and problems to the two republics' population, where many Russian nationals live," the ministry said.
Earlier the presidents of the two breakaway republics expressed in a statement to Putin their concerns over the "aggressive course by the Georgian authorities to destabilize the situation in the conflict zones, Georgia's militarization, the build up of offensive weapons and troops close to the borders of the [self-proclaimed] republics."
The Russian president said that all Georgia's attempts to resolve the situation by applying pressure on Abkhazia and South Ossetia are senseless.
"Any attempts to apply political, economic or especially military pressure on Abkhazia and South Ossetia are futile and counterproductive," the ministry said citing Putin.
Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Abkhazia, said in an interview with RIA Novosti that Putin's statement would "guarantee security for our republics. This is how I understood it."
Two weeks ago the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, proposed that the president and the government consider the issue of whether to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Ex-Soviet breakaway regions have stepped up their drive for independence since Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Moldova's Transdnestr, have since asked Russia's parliament, the United Nations and other organizations to recognize their independence.
Peacekeeping in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone is currently carried out by collective CIS forces staffed with Russian service personnel. The Georgian-South Ossetian conflict area is controlled by joint forces also including Russian peacekeepers.
"SURRENDER LIFE TO MOTHERLAND, SOUL TO GOD, AND HONOUR TO NOBODY!"
Slavatar: You're online every day, but you post nothing. You don't even delete the spam crap. I'm confused, brother.
Oct 10, 2020 4:12:53 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: Browser is up, but I was doing other things..
Oct 12, 2020 18:58:52 GMT -5
Slavatar: OK.. Regards.
Oct 13, 2020 8:39:57 GMT -5
славянин: зиг хайль
Oct 22, 2020 15:41:37 GMT -5
славянин: дойчен зальдатен
Oct 22, 2020 15:41:56 GMT -5
Milo I.: Deutscher Sauerbraten?
Oct 28, 2020 9:59:34 GMT -5
White Cossack: Who's the best state leader currently?
Dec 6, 2020 8:57:53 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: Viktor Orban?
Dec 8, 2020 5:55:50 GMT -5
Gopnik: from leader's POV, i'd say Kim Jong Un as in north korea he is not forcing any pics of himself nor making a shit ton of songs praising him unlike his dad and grandfather, but instead he is attempting to get the nation out of the shithole it is in today.
Dec 13, 2020 17:16:43 GMT -5
Gopnik: but 1000000% not kim from a citizen's point of view, the Camps in North Korea are horrible.
Dec 13, 2020 17:18:52 GMT -5
White Cossack: You're both right, fellas.
Dec 18, 2020 11:17:53 GMT -5
eternal jew: indeed goys
Dec 18, 2020 12:13:55 GMT -5