What is Russia's End Game in Georgia, and What Can The West Do?
Until the day that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin took control of Russia, I was optimistic about their future as a free coutry that would join the modern world. The moment Putin wrested power from the ailing Boris Yeltsin, however, my optimism began to fade.
Putin is a KGB man. That qualification alone is evidence that he is an utterly ruthless man who will squash any opposition to his plans ruthlessly, without a shred of guilt on his conscience, if he has one.
It is my view that Russia's ultimate goal is hegemony in the Middle east, and they believe that the road to that hegemony passes through Iran.
I have studied Rssian history, and one of their long standing goals has been year round, warm water southern ports. Iran provides them with this.
They had fought wars in the past forcomtrol over the Dardanelles so that their Black sea fleet and merchant ships could have year round ports. It was a band aid solution.
Then came the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR. Suddenly, their major ports such as Odessa and Sebastopol found themselves in Ukraine. Once Putin took control, did it take long for them to start meddling in Ukrainian elections to the point of poisoning the pro-western candidate Yushchenko who was certain to defeat the pro-Russian sock puppet?
Let's (I know it's painful, but bear with me) revisit the Carter presidency. Does anyone think that the soviet invasion of Afghanistan was an end in and of itself, or was it ultimately to be a jumping off point in the drive for southern ports, possibly in Iran or Pakistan? Seriously what else can Afghanistan offer them?
So here we are today. Should Russian troops overrun Georgia as they likely will, they will be right on the border of oil-rich Azerbaijan and the Baku oilfields that were of such strategic importance in WWII. It would not take much to push right through to Iran, which would become feasible if the Islamo-psycho regime there does attack Israel and Israel retaliates.... Putin will just go in and "pick up the pieces".
The man may be the personification of evil, but he is not stupid. Forget Medvedev. He's just a sock puppet. Putin sees multiple angles here that all benefit Russia in every way:
1) He restores national honour and pride (not to mention great power status) to the country after what has been seen by many Russians as years of humiliation. This he can achieve by subjugating Georgia, while the west does next to nothing. If Russia contrls that ppeline, suddenly western Europe must revise its foreign policy.
2)By rolling into Georgia, the message to Azerbaijan is to quickly change course and adopt a pro-Moscow policy. Essentially become, like Lukashenko's Belorus, part of the new Soviet Union, independent in name only. Russia gets control over Baku, and a jump off point into Iran.
3)Russia knows that its greatest threat is China. China's overheating economy needs oil badly. Russia already has a good supply of oil, but China may eventually have to look at ways it can dominate the Middle east, so If Russia, by egging on Iran's mullahs to attack israel, ensures an israeli retaliation which weakens or cripples iran, they can move in. Thus Russia gets Control over Middle east oil supplies, cutting off China, who they fear might want to eventually flex their Superpower muscle and retake lands the Russians took centuries ago. Russia, by Controlling Iran, will also force realignment of the other middle eastern countries, not to mention former Soviet Socialist Republics, who will have to consider following Putin's marching orders in terms of oil and foreign policy.Finally Putin Assures his place in Russian history alongside, if not ahead of Peter and Catherine, as the man who finally got them their southern ports.
Now... What can be done?
Putin is nothing more than what Yuri Andropov would have been..... Reagan would have had a very tough opponent in Andropov, and whoever succeeds GeorgeW. Bush is going to have his hands full with this current piece of KGB work. The only difference between Putin and his Soviet predecessors is that he is not an ideologue, but rather a very pragmatic and extreme nationalist. What can the U.S. do? very little to help Georgia, given its geography. If they chose, Russia could overrun them in a week. The world community is going to have show some fortitude. I think GWB and Hu Jintao (another bloodthirsty dictator) need to make common cause against this reptile Putin. China has alot at stake in this too, assuming that my argument suggesting Putin desires hegemony of the Middle East through domination, if not outright annexation of Iran , is true, and I believe it is. Abkazia and south Ossetia are probably lost, not that they wanted to be part of Georgia in the first place.
The situation can be salvaged only if a deal could be struck that will see Georgia proper remain independent under its current government, but that means sending a strong message to Big Bad Vlad...but how? How about Chinese troops building up along the Russian border near outer Manchuria? After all that was once Chinese territory.... Meanwhile NATO must move to admit Ukraine . The Baltic States who know that Russia has them in her sights need to revisit with Poland & Ukraine the idea of a loosely knit confederation, with common military and foreign policy as had been discussed seriously at various times in history, most recently in the brief years of independence they enjoyed after WWI. Had that venture succeeded, history may have been very different. Such arangements would make it very clear to Putin that Russian expansionism will be met with resistance, not appeasement.
Resolve is the only language the men in the Kremlin understand.