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Ceasefire in Georgia: Putin Outmaneuvers the West - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Russia's strongman Vladimir Putin has achieved his goal in Georgia -- the country has been destabilized. And the West will have to look on powerless when its ally, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, is eventually driven from office.

 A Russian officer walks through the damaged South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. The march on Tbilisi has been called off, if such plans ever existed. Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has announced the end of military operations in the Caucasus for the time being. According to sources in Moscow, some in the Russian military found it very painful to have to halt the advance just 90 kilometers from the office of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The hardliners would have loved nothing more than to do a bit of clearing up in the headquarters of this Georgian hothead.

But hasn't Russia already achieved everything it had set out to achieve? Moscow will now argue that it has fulfilled its "peacekeeping mission" as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin puts it, and that it has stuck to international agreements regarding the Caucasus by protecting one side and restraining the other. Now only one task remains -- Saakashvili needs to go, say the Russians.

And that poses the next quandary for the West. Russia will now stress its readiness to enter negotiations, but only on one condition -- that Saakashvili quits. The Russians will demand that the West (and especially the Americans) let their their darling go.

by Fran on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Russia must stand down

Despite Russia's overwhelming advantage in size and firepower in its conflict with Georgia, the Kremlin may have the most to lose if the fighting there continues. It is too soon to know with certainty who was responsible for the initial outbreak of violence in South Ossetia, but the war that began there is no longer about Georgia's breakaway regions or Russian peacekeepers.

By acting disproportionately with a full scale attack on Georgia and seeking the ouster of Georgia's democratically elected President Mikheil Saakashvili, Moscow is jeopardising its standing in Europe and the broader international community - and risking very real practical and political consequences.

(...)

For Moscow, the most obvious casualty of the fighting could be the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 - supposedly the crown jewel in the country's campaign to reinvent itself. Sochi is only a few miles from the border with Georgia's other breakaway region of Abkhazia. Regardless of any political consequences, if fighting spreads, it could drive up insurance rates for the games to the point that it becomes prohibitively expensive to hold the Olympics in the region at all.

Russia may face other costly consequences for the violence. Vladimir Putin's plans to make Moscow an international financial centre may evaporate as the prospect of sanctions on the country rears its head. Western financial institutions, which have done little to expose evidence of official Russian corruption, may start pursuing the issue much more publicly.

Is that a call to US insurers and banks to put Russia on their shit-list? Coming from someone heavily involved in their regulation/lobbying?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:40:32 PM EST
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You mean Senator Biden (D-MBNA) might be doing something fishy here?
by paving on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:27:39 PM EST
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Perhaps Biden is giving his "firm and resolute" image a polish.  What he describes could adversely impact Russia at a cost acceptable to the USA.  Beats sending forces or more saber rattling.  Might actually give Putin something to think about.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:28:48 PM EST
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