Saturday, February 7, 2009
U.S. ventures nothing, gains nothing in Georgia
Maybe the United States should have expressed a little more than "regret" Friday over Russia's plans to set up military bases in disputed regions of Georgia. It is obvious that Russia, which forced Georgia to withdraw from South Ossetia and Abkhazia last year, has decided not to live up to its part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the 5-day war. The U.S. State Department said Russia had agreed to return its forces to prewar numbers and locations in Georgia's breakaway regions, according to the Reuters international news service. "This latest announced build-up of the Russian Federation's military presence in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the consent of the Georgian government would clearly violate that commitment," said Robert Wood, an acting State Department spokesman. Wood said Russia's plans to build a naval base at Ochamchire and army bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia "violate Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," which Russia committed itself to in U.N. Security Council resolutions, Reuters said. If the United States is serious about this, and about ensuring that Russia lives up to other agreements with the West, it will have to make the point a little stronger. Russia has to learn to play nice, when dealing with former republics or selling natural gas to Europe, or it will have to leave the sandbox that rich Western nations usually play in. Russian soldiers repelled Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, a former Georgian province that declared independence in 1990s, in a five-day war last August.