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Northern Neil

Georgia on my Mind...

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It appears that Russia still has a penchant for stirring up trouble with small neighbours, and then declaring a 'just' war to annexe more territory. Seems like a repeat of the Finno-Russian war to me. One hopes that the Georgians render the inevitable Russian victory as a Pyrrhic one, like their 'victory' over the Finns in 1940.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7550804.stm

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In college I had been one of those naive young students who had hoped Russia would turn into a liberal, free market democracy and staunch ally of the US and EU against common threats (like China and Islamic jihad). It seems however the powers that be there still want to play the sad game of the Russian Empire.

 

I say the more countries we can liberate from Russia's sphere of influence, the better - especially the closer they are to Caspian Sea oil reserves.

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In college I had been one of those naive young students who had hoped Russia would turn into a liberal, free market democracy and staunch ally of the US and EU against common threats (like China and Islamic jihad).

 

That might have happened if, after the cold war, we had been 'Magnanimous in victory' as Churchill said we had been, vis-a-vis Germany and Japan. We weren't and Russia felt humiliated when it was weak in the '90's. No wonder it carries on its own course, and thumbs its nose to the West whenever it can.

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I say the more countries we can liberate from Russia's sphere of influence, the better - especially the closer they are to Caspian Sea oil reserves.

Better US than them; now that's Roman talk.

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I don't think everyone are fully aware of the situation.

 

Back on the 8/2/08 the Georgians were already firing on Ossetian civilians and peacekeepers from the joint peacekeeping force (a combination of Georgian, Ossetian, and Russian Federation troops).

 

On the 5th, the EU offered to mediate with the Georgians, offering to help them sort out differences with the Ossetians and Abkhazians.

 

Popov, Russian Ambassador at Large to the region, announced that on the 7th, Ossetian and Georgian leaders would meet. Early on Thursday Georgian artillery bombarded Tskhinvali, the Ossetian capital. Popov met with the Georgian envoy, Yakobashvili, for two hours, but the talks were inconclusive. All the while, the Georgian military and Ossetian forces defending the capital battled.

 

On the 8th, the Russian Federation sent in reinforcements for their peacekeepers (which as far as I can tell, initially only consisted of one battalion of motor rifles). According to the Defense Ministry, they were there to protect the lives of Russian peacekeepers, citizens of North Ossetia (part of Russia bordering Georgia, and citizens of the "self proclaimed republic [south Ossetia]. By 17.33 Moscow Time, 10 Russian peacekeepers had been killed, and thirty wounded. By 23.19 a further 12 had been killed, and 50 wounded. I have no statistics to the numbers of Georgians and Ossetians killed or wounded.

 

Throughout today (the 9th) the Georgians continued shelling Ossetian areas.

 

The above information comes from ITAR-TASS, the Russian state news agency, so obviously some information is lacking. For the western viewpoint, I have been mostly reading Yahoo news which is mostly Associated Press. I won't elaborate on it, since most readers here live in western countries and can turn on the TV (saving me from carpotunnel syndrome).

 

BTW -- I would be interested in hearing Kosmo's take on this, since he is the only member I know of who currently lives in the former Soviet bloc. If you are reading this, what have Romanian news sources been saying about this?

 

Also, a bit of further history on the situation. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been running their own affairs since the early '90's when they won their independence from Georgia. Both provinces have had close relations with Russia sice their independence. Let me reiterate, both republics have been independent for the better part of two decades. An analogiy: basically this situation is the same as if Serbia were to invade Kossovo tommorrow, and the US would get involved on the side of the Kossovars.

 

I can only hope that this war will end soon. Neither Russia nor Georgia can afford a long, costly war. It is tragic that two nations with such history should fight. Both nations would do well to remember their history of friendship, exemplified by Pyotr Bagration, the Georgian prince who died defending Russia from Napoleon so many years ago.

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It appears that Russia still has a penchant for stirring up trouble with small neighbours, and then declaring a 'just' war to annexe more territory. Seems like a repeat of the Finno-Russian war to me. One hopes that the Georgians render the inevitable Russian victory as a Pyrrhic one, like their 'victory' over the Finns in 1940.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7550804.stm

 

Its not quite that simple. Russia doesn't want a neighbour and former member soviet state joining NATO. By hitting the pipeline it would force the west to negotiate from a placatory standpoint instead of throwing their weight around. Russia has been the guarantor of peace in the caucasus for a long time and doesn't want what they consider an enemy system next door. So they found an exuse and intervened with typical russian heavy-handedness. As for the claims of ethnic cleansing and genocide - its a bit difficult to swallow unless any real evidence is found, but with so many civilian deaths from the fighting so far, it wouldn't be hard to arrange for a media stunt. Russia isn't getting the good press it wanted. Perhaps they won't care about that, my guess is that they will try to justify their incursion.

Edited by caldrail

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It appears that Russia still has a penchant for stirring up trouble with small neighbours, and then declaring a 'just' war to annexe more territory.

Its not quite that simple. Russia doesn't want a neighbour and former member soviet state joining NATO. By hitting the pipeline it would force the west to negotiate from a placatory standpoint instead of throwing their weight around.

War in the Caucasus

"War has started," Vladimir Putin said

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Salve, Amici. From en.wikipedia:

 

"Along with the rest of Colchis, Abkhazia was conquered by Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus between c. 110 and 63 BC, and then taken by the Roman commander Pompey. With the downfall of the Roman Empire, the tribes living in the region gained some independence, nominating their rulers who were to be confirmed by Rome. In the 3rd century AD, the western Georgian tribe of Lazoi came to dominate most of Colchis, establishing the kingdom of Lazica, locally known as Egrisi. According to Procopius, the Abasgoi chieftains were also subdued by the Lazic kings.

 

Colchis was a scene of the protracted rivalry between the Eastern Roman/Byzantine and Sassanid empires, culminating in the well-known Lazic War from 542 to 562. The war resulted in the decline of Lazica, and the Abasgoi in their dense forests won a degree of autonomy under the Byzantine authority. During this era the Byzantines built Sebastopolis in the region. Their land, known to the Byzantines as Abasgia, was a prime source of eunuchs for the empire. The people remained pagan until a mission sent by the emperor Justinian I (527-565) converted the people to Christianity, though at the 325 Council of Nicaea a bishop had attended from the port city of Pityus

 

As the Abasgoi tribe grew in relative strength, the name Abasgia came to denote much larger area populated by the various ethnic segments including Mingrelian- and Svan-speaking Georgian tribes, and subordinated to the Byzantine-appointed princes (Greek: archon, Georgian: eristavi) who resided in Anacopia and were viewed as major champions of the empire

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It seems to me that Abkhazia has at least the same historical right to split from Georgia as Kosovo had for splitting from Serbia.

They do, but there are other considerations. Abkhazians and Georgians are the same ethnically and share a common linguistic heritage (Caucasian group). Today their languages have about the same degree of separation as English from Dutch. Does Abkhazia really want to be swllowed up by a Russia with which it shares few linguistic and cultural links?

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It seems to me that Abkhazia has at least the same historical right to split from Georgia as Kosovo had for splitting from Serbia.

They do, but there are other considerations. Abkhazians and Georgians are the same ethnically and share a common linguistic heritage (Caucasian group). Today their languages have about the same degree of separation as English from Dutch. Does Abkhazia really want to be swllowed up by a Russia with which it shares few linguistic and cultural links?

Do you mean like Kosovo, Serbia and US?

Rings any bell?

 

Personally, I agree with Mr. Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

 

But as far as nationalities' rights are there to deal with, we ought to be consistent and use the same rule everywhere.

Powers' fights by proxies are as despicable now as they were back in the Cold War years.

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It seems to me that Abkhazia has at least the same historical right to split from Georgia as Kosovo had for splitting from Serbia.

They do, but there are other considerations. Abkhazians and Georgians are the same ethnically and share a common linguistic heritage (Caucasian group). Today their languages have about the same degree of separation as English from Dutch. Does Abkhazia really want to be swllowed up by a Russia with which it shares few linguistic and cultural links?

Do you mean like Kosovo, Serbia and US?

Rings any bell?

 

Personally, I agree with Mr. Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

 

But as far as nationalities' rights are there to deal with, we ought to be consistent and use the same rule everywhere.

Powers' fights by proxies are as despicable now as they were back in the Cold War years.

The cultural differences between the Slavic and orthodox Serbia and the (largely) muslim and Albanian speaking Kosovo are very marked, much more so than the related Georgians and Abasgians. in addition, the Kosovars have always been present in their country, whereas the Russian element in Ossetia is a more recent colonial influx.

 

Mr. Lennon was quite right when he penned that song, but unfortunately it is not a realistic prospect in the short term. Whilst the Georgians have not treated this matter as delicately as they could, I fear the consequences should Russia get its way here. The Baltic states with the exception of Finland each has a large minority of Russian speakers who identify closely with the Motherland. It would be a shame if they used a Georgian precedent to extract territory from these already tiny nations, under the same pretext.

Edited by Northern Neil

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The cultural differences between the Slavic and orthodox Serbia and the (largely) muslim and Albanian speaking Kosovo are very marked, much more so than the related Georgians and Abasgians. in addition, the Kosovars have always been present in their country.

Even if such so different populations have been under the same country since the late XII century (more than eight centuries; are they really so different?).

Then just think in Croatia and Serbia, same language, centuries-long common history, two Christian varieties; would anyone contest the Croatian rights?

We have plenty of such kind of examples both in the Balkans and the Caucasus.

I think previous posts showed the general idea is that we should support Georgia basically for economic and geopolitical reasons; that makes perfect sense to me.

 

...whereas the Russian element in Ossetia is a more recent colonial influx.

It seems the Iranic ethnic group of the Ossetians has been widely recognized since the Middle Ages.

Not to talk about the Abkhaz people.

 

Mr. Lennon was quite right when he penned that song, but unfortunately it is not a realistic prospect in the short term.

Nor in the long term either.

Agreeing with the sound logic of Mr Lennon's quotation doesn't make me think Imagine has anything beyond naive utopian idealism.

Sorry if I didn't make myself clear.

 

Whilst the Georgians have not treated this matter as delicately as they could, I fear the consequences should Russia get its way here. The Baltic states with the exception of Finland each has a large minority of Russian speakers who identify closely with the Motherland. It would be a shame if they used a Georgian precedent to extract territory from these already tiny nations, under the same pretext.

The sudetenland technique is despicable, no matter who applies it.

But again, if you're playing the minorities' national rights game, you have at least to be consistent.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Forgive my ignorance, but are the Abkhaz people and the Abasgians the same? I might have misread your post relating to this - the name similarity suggests they are. If that is so, it puzzles me that fellow Caucasaian speakers would maintain independent political trajectories rather than unting against vastly superior numbers of Slavs, Iranians and Turkic peoples.

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Forgive my ignorance, but are the Abkhaz people and the Abasgians the same? I might have misread your post relating to this - the name similarity suggests they are.

Not being an expert, that's certainly my impression too: non-indoeuropean names so alien to English may have many alternative spellings for its transliteration; it depends mainly on the linguistic steps across their translation way.

En.wikipedia "Abasgians" redirects you to the "Abkhaz people" page.

Google searchs on any of both terms are fundamentally interchangeable.

 

...it puzzles me that fellow Caucasaian speakers would maintain independent political trajectories rather than unting against vastly superior numbers of Slavs, Iranians and Turkic peoples.

The mountainous terrain plus the constant contact with multiple cultures in both the Balkans and the Caucasus favour the geopolitical phenomenom called... Balkanization, ie. the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or non-cooperative with each other (Merriam-Webster).

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Balkanisation is common to human societies, not just the balkans/caucasus. Britain is becoming increasingly balkanised as regions demand self-determination. Its a sign of political failure in that central government has failed to address local issues. Eventually a strong leader and culture will absorb the smaller states into a larger whole, as might easily happen with the European Union for instance.

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