Russia: Embers of Empire
October 8, 2006: The spat between Russia (population 145 million) and Georgia (population four million) is a leftover from the Cold War (1948-91), and the way the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of that conflict. Many Russians miss being a superpower, and presiding over an empire. Georgia resented two centuries of Russian domination, mainly because Georgia had maintained it's independence for several thousand years. The Georgians saw the Russians as a bunch of barbarians and bullies. The Russians saw the Georgians as conquered people, and subjects of the Russian state. Many Russians are nostalgic for that sort of thing. The Russians are also enraged that Georgia wants to join NATO, and refuses to follow orders from Moscow. Georgia is also the home of the man who killed more Russians than Hitler; Josef Stalin. The Georgians are proud of this, the Russians less so.
October 5, 2006: Responding to Israeli complaints that Hizbollah had obtained Russian anti-tank missiles, Russia fired a senior arms export official and promised that they would be more careful about advanced weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups. The big problem in Russia is corruption, not tacit support for terrorists. A big enough bribe can accomplish just about anything in Russia, and that is something the government is very concerned about.
October 3, 2006: Russia is threatening to cut money transfers to Georgia. This would be serious, as many Georgians working in Russia send money back to Georgia. Russia has also rounded up and expelled over a hundred Georgians, including some prominent Georgian businessmen, and closed their operations in Russia.
October 2, 2006: Georgia released the four Russian soldiers it was holding on spying charges, to the custody of a mediator. Russia has resumed pulling its troops out of Georgia, after a four day halt. But at the same time, Russia is imposing sanctions on Georgia, which include cutting rail, air and postal links. Russia says it will maintain these sanctions indefinitely. In other words, until the Georgians kills some Russian ass.