2008: Russia has announced that it will,
in effect, annex the Georgian separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
No one is willing to face down the Russians on this issue, which many of
Russias neighbors see as the first of many such annexations. There is a
precedent for this sort of thing, and it all began on the French-German border
historians see the German reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 as the real
beginning of World War II. As part of the treaty that ended World War I,
Germany agreed to keep troops out of the Rhineland (a German region on the
French border). Going back in was a huge gamble for the Germans, who were in
the midst of rebuilding their military, and, in 1936, much weaker than France
or Britain. But neither of these countries were willing to risk the violence
that might occur if they went after the 32,000 troops and police Germany sent
into the Rhineland. This convinced Hitler that he could bully the Western
allies, and grab neighboring countries with impunity. This worked for Austria
and Czechoslovakia, but triggered World War II when Germany and Russia (by
prior agreement) carved up Poland in 1939.
not have its sights on Poland this time around, but Belarus, Ukraine, the
Baltic States and a few of the Central Asian "stans" would be nice.
Would, or could, anyone stop them? Hitler didn't have nuclear weapons, nor was
Germany the supplier of a quarter of Europe's energy needs. Hitler also didn't
have the support of the German people for such military adventures, the current
Russian government does. Russia also still has its secret police apparatus.
Perhaps not as large as when the Soviet Union was still around, but it's still
there. Credit Cards, the Internet and
cell phones make it easier to keep track of people. There are still KGB old
timers around who remember how to run a prison camps. Absorbing the nations of
the "near abroad" (as Russia calls its neighbors), would mean having
to deal with a lot of dissidents. That's what the Gulag (the Russian acronym
for the prison camp system, or "The Chief Administration of Corrective
Labor Camps and Colonies") was created for. It gets the troublemakers off
the streets, permanently, as needed. Puts the fear of Moscow into the newly
acquired citizens of the Russian State. It worked before, it can work again. So
did taking over the Rhineland.
2008: In Chechnya, two suicide bomb
attacks left two Russian soldiers dead, in addition to the two bombers.
Ingushetia (adjacent to Chechnya), an opponent of the pro-Russian provincial
government, Magomed Yevloyev, was killed by police, after being arrested after
he flew back into a local airport. Yevloyev was "accidentally" shot
in the head while in a police car. Yevloyev ran a website (www.ingushetia.ru/ that
reported on similar incidents.
2008: China refused to back the Russian
annexations in Georgia, as did the Central Asian nations and Iran.
2008: Most major Western nations denounce
Russias annexation of parts of Georgia. Russia threatens to retaliate against
any Western sanctions. Everyone, especially the Russians, now expects the Western nations to make a lot
of noise, but do nothing.
2008: Russia says it will recognize the
independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has already issued Russian
passports to the citizens of these two areas, and basically incorporated them
into Russia. The latest action means that Russia no longer recognizes these two
areas as belonging to Georgia.
2008: U.S. warships arrived at the port
of Batumi, carrying relief supplies for Georgia. The port of Poti is still
occupied by Russian troops, who sank three Georgian troops they found there. U.S.
aid is also arriving by air.
2008: In Georgia, Russia began moving
most of its troops out of the country and into South Ossetia. These troops had
already destroyed most Georgian military bases, and equipment, in the northern
part of the country. Civilians could hear explosions coming from the bases over
the last few days, apparently the result of Russian engineers destroying
buildings and weapons. While most of the Russian troops are leaving, enough are
remaining to man road check points and the port of Poti. The Russians have a
loophole in the August 11 ceasefire agreement, that, by their interpretation,
allows them to keep "peacekeepers" inside Georgia.
halted all military cooperation with NATO. Since a 2002 agreement was signed,
Russia and NATO have been working together on several projects, including
tracking heroin shipments from Afghanistan and coordinating air-sea rescue