I see that Russia continues to occupy Georgia in complete defiance of its alleged committments and all the West can now do is talk. The Sarkozy brokered peace deal has been shown up for what it was – rhetorical soft power with no real meaning. Putin has demonstrated just how impotent the “International community” really has become and the most risible comment I heard was from some internationalist saying that if Russia did NOT withdraw it would risk damaging “its’ reputation”. They don’t get it. Russia is now enhancing its’ reputation by proving that the bear is no longer intimidated by paper tigers. NATO meets today to deal with this – but France and Germany already have flagged up a desire not to actually do anuything that might alienate Russia. Putin must be laughing up his sleeve as this contemptible response to his aggression and expansion plans. Who next?
So, first Russia invades Georgia, kills and destroys at will, agrees to an EU brokered “Peace Treaty” and then continues plundering and invading further into Georgia. Next a senior Russian general says it is 100% certain that Poland would be nuked if it allows a US missile defence system to be located on its soil. Now, Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the cold war, senior military sources warned last night. Putin calculates that the “International Community” lacks the cajones to do anything but issue hollow rhetoric. He’s right. ONLY the USA can respond with the sort of pressure that Putin needs imposed on him – let us support a robust US response. The bear needs muzzled and the sooner Bush economically isolates Russia the better.
Well, I think we should all have figured that Russia under Putin has been on a quest for restored imperial glory. Democracy, fledging or otherwise, has vanished and new found energy wealth is fundinf new found confidence. What happened in Georgia was not a one-off, but rather a taster of what lies in store unless the bear gets punished. So…..
“A senior Russian general warned Poland today that it was leaving itself open to retaliation – and possibly even a nuclear strike – by agreeing to host a US missile base. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the Russian armed forces’ deputy chief of staff, issued the extraordinary threat in an interview with Interfax, a Russian news agency. “Poland, by deploying [the system] is exposing itself to a strike – 100 per cent,” he was quoted as saying, before explaining that Russian military doctrine sanctioned the use of nuclear weapons “against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them.”
The bear needs de-fanged. Shall we call the UN, perhaps the EU?
“Google “European anti-war protests” and you will see that the status of the sovereign, democratic state of Georgia is conspicuous by its absence from the list of protest-worthy causes. Organizing the stilt puppeteers and kettle drummers, these things take time, it seems. Patience is called for.
Millions marched in San Francisco, Rome, Barcelona and London when a US-led coalition of democracies prepared to depose a murderous tyrant – where are they now, when a tyrant seeks to depose a democratically elected government?
Millions more protested when a wretchedly afflicted people attempted to shake off the chains of 30 year’s oppression, tribalism and superstition to create for themselves and their children a sense of security and a representative government, answerable to the people – where are they now, that a free people has been reacquainted with the rod and beaten back to the yoke?
Others protested in Florence and Glocestershire when NATO bombers intervened to stop a genocide in Kosovo – where are they now, when bombers and helicopter gunships rain death upon innocents?…”
Thank god for the EU President Sarkozy and the wonderful deal he has done that secures peace between Russia and Georgia. It’s a triumph for soft-power diplomacy and we can all sleep easier in our beds. Right?
Wrong. Back on planet Earth..
Villages in Georgia are being burned and looted as Russian tanks and soldiers followed by “irregulars” advanced from the breakaway province of South Ossetia, eyewitnesses said today. “People are fleeing, there is a mood of absolute panic. The idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous,” Luke Harding, the Guardian’s correspondent, said. Earlier, witnesses reported a military convoy heading towards the Georgian capital Tbilisi, but it later turned off the road and headed back towards South Ossetia. Russia denied any advance.
Putin has been allowed to get away with this outrageous bullying and the gloss put on the French EU brokered “peace deal” only helps further disguise the fact that Russia is entirely in the wrong here and should be punished for what it has done. Instead, it will be rewarded. Which nation is NEXT on Putin’s hit list?
It’s raining in Georgia. Raining Russian missiles and bullets. Raining death and destruction.
The scale of this Russian invasion and the barbarity of the actions it has already committed are atrocious. But where are the demonstrations in our major cities at this act of Russian belligerence? Where are all those bleeding heart liberals that have never stopped protesting about the US liberation of Iraq from the monster Saddam? There seems to be – as Pete Moore has eloquently posted – a sustained SILENCE. I wonder why it is that Russia gets a free pass? Might it be that underlying sympathies tell the tale…even as Georgia burns? When Russia first attacked Georgia, the BBC reported the event as “Russia enters Georgia.” Almost as if it were a friend popping round to visit you. As a shrewd observer elsewhere has noted;
Get the picture?
The timing was perfect. The eyes of the world are focused on Beijing as the Olympic Games open….so IN go the Russian tanks to Georgia as Putin declares“the war has started”.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “War started today in South Ossetia when Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in the disputed region.” Earlier an official in Georgia’s National Security Council said Russia invaded Georgia. Kakha Lamaia said: “If it’s not war, then we are very close to it. The Russians have invaded Georgia and we are under attack.” Georgian President Mikhail Saakasvili told CNN: “Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory. “This is a clear intrusion on another country’s territory. We have Russian tanks on our territory, jets on our territory in broad daylight.”
So, what do we make of this then? Will there be howls of outcry from the “international community” as the Russian tanks try to crush all who would oppose them? Or will there merely be a collective shrugging of the shoulders? I’ve said for some time now that I see Russia as an ENEMY of freedom, it is a nation hell bent on regaining the status held prior to the collapse of the USSR and with its new found energy goliath status it seems poised to assert its will over those who dare oppose it.
I await the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council….
Interesting developments while Dubya’s in Romania.
While some of Old Europe’s heavy hitters grasp their oui-ouis and tremble in fear, Dubya and New Europe again challenge Vladimir Paranoid to join the 21st century.
So, what’s happened to bring Putie aboard the Good Ship Real World?
Heh. Maybe this.
Putin, Bush may sign missile shield document
A joint document to be signed by the Russian and U.S. presidents on April 6 will include issues related to missile defense, a Kremlin source said on Tuesday.
George W. Bush will meet with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia’s resort city on the Black Sea, for more discussions on NATO’s expansion and U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“Experts are working hard on a document within the strategic framework of Russian-U.S. cooperation,” the source said.
“[The presidents’] joint statement will include provisions on missile defense,” he added.
He also said the upcoming meeting would provide “a road map” for future presidents in both countries.
Bush said earlier on Tuesday that there would be no deal with Moscow on withdrawing American support for NATO bids by the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine in exchange for Russia’s acceptance of a U.S. missile shield in Europe.
Speaking at a news conference in Kiev after talks with President Viktor Yushchenko, Bush signaled his support for the two ex-Soviet states’ requests to enter the Membership Action Plan (MAP), a precursor for membership in the Western military alliance.
Asked by a reporter about rumors that Washington could strike a bargain with Moscow, he said: “That is a misperception – I strongly believe that Ukraine and Georgia should be given MAP, and there’s no tradeoff, period.”
The U.S. intends to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, which it says will provide defense against ‘rogue states’ such as Iran. Moscow views the plans as a direct threat to its own security.
Moscow also vehemently opposes NATO’s further expansion around its borders. The Kremlin threatened in February to target missiles at Ukraine if Kiev joins NATO and allows Western military facilities on its territory.
Bush’s visit to Kiev is a stop-over before a trip to Romania for the April 2-4 NATO summit. Putin has also been invited to the summit.
Koslings v. PuffHo: Who will be first to spin this into proof of the Bushchimphitler-Pajamashadeen-Jooooish Conspiracy?
And what about eeeevil Halliburton?!?
Via RIA Novosti, Russian News & Information Agency
Also at JWF
UPDATE: Dr. Rusty links. Thanks!
Court Charges Beslan Victims’ Group With ‘Extremism’
The winter holidays are a difficult time for the many families that lost relatives in the hostage drama that struck the small North Ossetian town of Beslan in September 2004.
For the Voice of Beslan, a victims’ group led by women who lost children in the siege, this year’s holidays brought further distress: a court summons from neighboring Ingushetia, where local prosecutors had filed charges accusing the organization of “extremist” activities.
“We received a telegram around the New Year inviting us to a Nazran court,” says Ella Kesayeva, one of the group’s leaders. “We think this trial was specially commissioned by someone. A lot has been happening lately around Voice of Beslan. What’s happening now is one more attempt to pressure a civil group that is carrying out its own investigation.”
More than three years after the siege, many questions remain unanswered. For Voice of Beslan and other groups, the key detail is who sparked the violence that brought the three-day siege to its deadly conclusion — the hostage takers, most from the North Caucasus, demanding a military withdrawal from Chechnya, or the federal forces brought in to negotiate an end to the crisis.
After a private investigation, Voice of Beslan says it believes it was federal security forces outside the school, using flamethrowers and tanks against the school, that caused the blast that killed many of the 1,000 hostages and triggered a bloody battle with the militants.
Two reports have backed these claims — one penned by the North Ossetian parliament’s investigative commission, the other by Russian politician and explosives expert Yury Savelyev.
As best as we can tell, none of the parties involved with preparing the reports have come down with a case of influenzae Sovietski. So far.
The State Duma has yet to release its own final official report on the events. But the chief parliamentary investigator, Aleksandr Torshin, has suggested that militants were responsible for the explosion.
No ‘Official’ Account
The large number of parallel investigations conducted into the Beslan siege illustrates the extreme controversy and high political stakes surrounding what remains the most horrifying event in recent Russian history.
Voice of Beslan says its campaign to bring senior officials to trial for botching the Beslan rescue operation has angered many. The group’s trial — currently due to begin on January 15 — is not the first time Voice of Beslan has encountered trouble with the authorities.
A North Ossetian court ordered the organization to close down in December, claiming that Kesayeva was not its leader and that a former member who claimed to be the leader of the group should replace her. That ruling was subsequently annulled by the Russian Supreme Court.
This time, prosecutors’ charges are tied to an open letter accusing President Vladimir Putin of covering up the truth about the carnage to protect top officials.
“We are guilty of electing a president who solves problems with the help of tanks, flamethrowers, and gas,” Voice of Beslan said in the text, posted in 2005 on its website. “But it’s not our fault that the global political elite supports our president, who has become a backer of criminals.”
The charges fall under Russia’s 2007 amended law on extremism, which broadens the definition of extremist activities to include “slander of public officials” and “humiliating national pride.” The legislation can be applied retroactively and has been used to investigate journalists, human rights activists, and opposition figures.
Such mishegas. This makes the Patriot Act look like a simple walk in the park. Not that the Kooky Kult of Koslam, the gangs at PuffHo and Digg, or other leftists would notice.
Why authorities might seek to shut down Voice of Beslan is obvious. Russian officials have shown little compunction about using the extremism legislation to crack down on their critics. What is less clear, however, is why the charges come from Ingushetia, rather than Moscow — and more than two years after the text’s publication.
Read it all at RFE/RL
Condi? Dubya? Shrillary? Obama? Silky? Rudy? Fred? Huckster? Leading presidential contender Ron Paul?
September 1, 2004. The first day of school.
UPDATE: Dr. Rusty Shackleford of The Jawa Report links. Thank you!
Also at JWF
An unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin’s departure from office, the Guardian has learned, with claims that the president presides over a secret multibillion-dollar fortune.
Rival clans inside the Kremlin are embroiled in a struggle for the control of assets as Putin prepares to transfer power to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in May, well-placed political observers and other sources have revealed.
At stake are billions of dollars in assets belonging to Russian state-run corporations. Additionally, details of Putin’s own personal fortune, reportedly hidden in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, are being discussed for the first time.
The claims over the president’s assets surfaced last month when the Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky gave an interview to the German newspaper Die Welt. They have since been repeated in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times, with speculation over the fortune appearing on the internet.
Citing sources inside the president’s administration, Belkovsky claims that after eight years in power Putin has secretly accumulated more than $40bn (£20bn). The sum would make him Russia’s – and Europe’s – richest man.
In an interview with the Guardian, Belkovsky repeated his claims that Putin owns vast holdings in three Russian oil and gas companies, concealed behind a “non-transparent network of offshore trusts”.
Putin “effectively” controls 37% of the shares of Surgutneftegaz, an oil exploration company and Russia’s third biggest oil producer, worth $20bn, he says. He also owns 4.5% of Gazprom, and “at least 75%” of Gunvor, a mysterious Swiss-based oil trader, founded by Gennady Timchenko, a friend of the president’s, Belkovsky alleges.
Asked how much Putin was worth, Belkovsky said: “At least $40bn. Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about.” He added: “It may be more. It may be much more.
“Putin’s name doesn’t appear on any shareholders’ register, of course. There is a non-transparent scheme of successive ownership of offshore companies and funds. The final point is in Zug [in Switzerland] and Liechtenstein. Vladimir Putin should be the beneficiary owner.”
Given the situation of Anna Politkovskaya, Luke Harding, Stanislav Belkovsky, Yulia Latynina and others had better develop a healthy sense of paranoia.
Read it all at The Guardian.
H/T The JammieWearingFool
Also at JammieWearingFool