Dienstag, 26. August 2008

How to win and, well, loose both at the same time

The Russian President Medwedew today recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abchasia in what is almost certainly the greatest strategic blunder since the end of the Cold War. In recent years Western commentators and observers have been impressed by Russian moves on the world stage in an apparent effort to reassert its strategic role, not only in the Caucasus but elsewhere as well. Russia carefully set up a trap for Georgia and by blocking any solution on the South Ossetia-question for years it ensured that Georgia would not be able to fulfill the basic requirements to join NATO, namely the solution of outstanding territorial questions. The thing is, Russia now solved this problem. Today Moscow made sure that Georgia will be able to join NATO in due course. In doing so it brought NATO closer to an internal consensus on its future role and helped Western-oriented governments not yet part of the alliance to make their case for NATO expansion. And finally Moscow broke a principle that China wants the world to adhere to: territorial integrity, simply because Beijing is facing difficulties on its own periphery. So, after alienating the West, NATO, the Eastern Europeans and China, it also lost influence in the most important regional organisation for Moscow: the Shanghai Corporation Organisation. If the Kremlin believes that is not a price too high for gaining South Ossetia, its judgment is even worse than one could possibly imagine.

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