Russia: Forget Georgian Territorial Integrity
Russia has abandoned all pretense that they’re merely intervening on behalf of aggrieved minorities in Georgia’s breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia’s foreign minister declared Thursday that the world “can forget about” Georgia’s territorial integrity, and officials said Russia targeted military infrastructure and equipment — including radars and patrol boats at a Black Sea naval base and oil hub.
Two American military planes delivered cargos of aid — including food and medicine — to Georgia’s wounded and refugees. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he sees no need to invoke U.S. military force in the war between Russia and Georgia. He warned, however, that U.S.-Russian relations could suffer for “years to come” if Moscow doesn’t retreat.
Russia’s president met in the Kremlin with the leaders of Georgia’s two separatist provinces — a clear sign that Moscow could absorb the regions. And the comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to come as a challenge to the United States, where President Bush has called for Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.”
“One can forget about any talk about Georgia’s territorial integrity because, I believe, it is impossible to persuade South Ossetia and Abkhazia to agree with the logic that they can be forced back into the Georgian state,” Lavrov told reporters.
Given that Russian forces have inflicted severe damage in Georgia proper and called for President Mikhail Saakashvili to be tried for war crimes, there was little reason to doubt Russia’s expansionist motives here. Now, there are none.
Given the precedent set in the Balkans, most notably in Kosovo, it’s not surprising that Russia feels empowered to project power in its near abroad. And, certainly, it’s clear that the West has no appetite for military confrontation with Russia over Georgia’s “territorial integrity.”
The only questions that remain are 1) Does Russia have ambitions beyond Georgia? 2) Where are the West’s red lines? 3) Does the West have stomach even for significant economic and institutional responses, such as tossing Russia from the G8? 4) Does Russia care?
AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsk via YahooNews