In case of cold war Russia would fail much faster than the USSR did
Declaring recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, President Dmitry Medvedev explained that we are afraid of nothing, including the cold war perspective. In case the European partners calm down, that's great. And if they choose a confrontation scenario, well, we have lived under different conditions, and we shall be able to go through it. This is what Medvedev said. The West also seems to be ready. It's for the first time after the Soviet Union collapsed that the EU leaders are to consider their options of opposing Moscow, including possible sanctions.
The task is no easy, of course. To take a serious decision, the EU needs to have consent of all its members. The Congress in Washington also needs to consider and pass special bills and amendments so that to prepare an adequate response, like it was in soviet times. However, if this process gets started, it would not be possible to stop it. If the western states agree that actions by Russia in Georgia are "absolutely unacceptable" as it was defined by the German chancellor Angela Merkel, then the pressure and sanctions would be increasing on all fronts.
Moscow is sure that in case we challenge America openly the rest of the world can't wait our intrusion on Georgia to affirm at last the desired world multi-polarity. The other popular scenario was explained by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to an astonished CNN correspondent: allegedly, the ruling in the US Republicans have undertaken this story of war with Georgia so that to enable their man to pass as a successor to George Bush.
Awakening of our daydreamers may be rather rude. The uncoordinated before West has united amazingly, while the "pitiful" NATO, compared by our Dmitry Rogozin with a philatelist society, has sent to the Black Sea a multinational squadron with the purpose of maneuvering and bringing humanitarian aid to Georgia. Incidentally, the squadron is rather small, according to NATO scale; it's about over ten units, which is a couple per cent of their aggregate naval force. However, even this number is much stronger than our today's remnants of the previous Black Sea Fleet.
Maybe, our leaders have forgotten that last time our country went very hardly through the cold war: the USSR collapsed and broke into pieces. After 2001 NATO has not proved to be an effective organization for struggle with Islamic terrorism. However, it was originally designed for restraining the USSR, and there is no need to invent something new. Russian intrusion on Georgia, refusal to keep the promise of quick withdrawal of the troops, given to French President, factual annexation of Abkhazia and the South Ossetia, the threat by Medvedev to make similar striking blows in case our citizens and peacemakers get endangered - all that has obviously returned a military threat to Europe from the East. And NATO is getting quickly the sense and the goal, having found a usual enemy.
Recognition of independence of the separatist Georgian regions is not only illegal in the western terms; it's also amoral and unfair. The fake referendums about independence taken in Abkhazia and the South Ossetia cannot matter much and cannot be an expression of people's will, as the Georgian part of population did not take part in it. Being a majority in Abkhazia, Georgians were banished by Abkhazians whose share in population was only 20%. From the European point of view, under such conditions, recognition of independence means a monstrous infringement on human rights of more than 300,000 innocent Georgians who were banished forever from their native land with just a couple of decrees signed. It would be silly expecting that after that the West can calm down and put up easily.
Today, closing ranks against Russia are left and right, realists and idealists, old and new Europe, neutral Scandinavia, America and Japan. The hope of the Kremlin's chiefs for the multi-polar world turned out to be vain. China, Iran and Russia's allies in ODKB and CIS decided to stay aloof and see Moscow deal with consequences alone. Actually, for those countries it is advantageous that the West now will be driving at Russia and so giving less attention to their own actions. Last week, the effort by Russia for peaceful arrangement of the conflict was apparently supported at the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation's meeting in Dushanbe. However, with a Chinese presentation, it was confirmed officially the principal of the territorial integrity of Georgia, which is an obvious condemnation of recognition of sovereignty of Abkhazia and the South Ossetia.
Political isolation of Russia is becoming a fact. Now, on this basis the US and the leading western powers can build a financial-economic and technological isolation, at the same time creating various military threats, making us stretch out our scarce resources, wasting it in useless attempts of reanimation of military industrial complex, striving for technological, food and other kinds of self-sufficiencies. Similar strategy ruined the USSR, while the Russian Federation can be handled with even easier.
One may expect embargo for arms supply, which would undermine significantly our weapons export to India and Arabic states in the Persian Gulf, also making impossible our own rearmament. Russia is no USSR. We buy thermal imagers from France for export and for domestic needs. We buy weapons, electronic components and special materials from the US and Europe. A system of export control over high-tech equipment and double-purpose technologies might be restored, which would make it impossible any attempts of modernization of the country and development of innovative economy.
Naturally, like it was in the ‘80s with the USSR, Russia would be allowed providing the West with gas, oil and other kinds of natural resources. With the absence of other buyers (alternative pipe-lines are not constructed towards the East), Russia will have to deliver it as the money will be needed for buying food and other kinds of import. Besides, our bosses get their main personal money out of exporting the raw materials. Russia is not a WTO member, so any country can easily suppress our export, not related to gas and oil, with huge dues. Confrontation with the West would inevitably make Russia an oil and gas appendage to the West.
While our troops got stuck in Georgia and Northern Caucasus, there would be no opportunity to undertake something in the Crimea, even in case our fleet got blocked and ousted from Sevastopol. And the situation is aggravating too in Ingushetia and other places in the North Caucasus, where spread rebel underground activities are going on. As this underground is Islamic one, so far Georgians and the West have not helped them. And now, like it was in times of our occupation in Afghanistan, a temporary tactical anti-Russian alliance by Islam followers and democrats might be formed.
Over the course of a new cold war in the Black Sea water and in other places, the occasions of direct opposition by the military forces of the West and Russia might occur, though, no party would wish escalation. Instead, the West will be rendering a massive economic, financial and military aid to Georgia. Caucasus may become the field of indirect collision of another cold war, like it was about Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola and Ethiopia. The Georgian Army that has retained its main force, will be equipped with new tanks, anti-aircraft means, jet fighters and bombers, and high precise weapons. Starting from next year one may expect beginning of the large-scale subversive and partisan activities meant against Russian forces in the buffer zones in Georgia, Abkhazia and Ossetia. In response, Russia will have to increase the capacity of our garrisons in Transcaucasia spending more forces and means on strategically unpromising opposition in the Eurasian back of beyond.
The final price for "independent" Abkhazia and Ossetia and for another cold war would be final impoverishment and devastation of the Russian native lands. Well, the leaders would not notice that. Sitting in their state residences, they are ready to go through our troubles.
by Pavel Felgengauer
Source: Novaya Gazeta