The Russia-Georgia Conflict - The Bear's Power

August 12, 2008

The Soviet Union was once a mighty empire, controlling large chunks of land in Europe and Asia, and giving the West a mighty enemy. Then it all fell apart; the individual states (many of them incorporated by force) wanted their freedom, and Boris Yeltsin wanted his own Russia to rule, and so the Soviet empire ended. Then began the decline. Then rose a strongman out of all this, one who had the blood of the all-powerful intelligence agency KGB running through him. On his own he could not do anything; however, he was lucky. Russia had large tracts of oil and gas, and had turned into a large exporter of these, bringing in revenue, and helping regrow the power.

However, in the midst of all this, the world did not stay still. Many of the former Soviet republics did not stay still, moving towards the West (and seemingly away from the clutches of their former all-powerful dictatorial landlord), striking closer relationships with them. At the same time, like any major power (and one that remembers all too well how powerful it is), Russia grew increasingly resentful of this emergence of the West in an area that it treats as its backyard (a close equivalent would be if Mexico suddenly became more hostile to the US and very very friendly towards Russia or China).

This may well seem normal for a powerful country to treat its immediate neighbors as its areas of influence, but not so for the country so dominated. Ask Finland, that has fought wars with Russia in the past over this dominance, and ask Afghanistan that does not like being called as an area of Pakistani influence, as if it has no identity of its own.

So, when Ukraine tried to show itself as more hostile towards Russia, there was a sudden crippling blockade of the oil and gas it gets from Russia; and now Georgia. Ever since President Mikheil Saakashvili came to office and had a campaign of getting back the pro-Russian provinces of South Ossetia and a second separatist area, Abkhazia, Russia has been seething. It already knows that it is much more powerful. The US wants its support in the initiatives against Iran and North Korea, and cannot afford to antagonize Russia. And the Georgian leader gave Vladimir Putin just that chance. He tried to take one of the provinces, South Ossetia back, and met such overwhelming Russian force (without any check by any other party) that Western leaders were worried that Putin may be trying to gain more geographic control inside Georgia.

Right now, things are moving towards a cease-fire, but Russia must have intended this as a show of force to Georgia and others, that they are truly helpless when faced with this great bear.

Ashish is a blogger who got bit by the blogging charm a few months back, and it has hit him good. He is able to express himself through his blogs. Currently working with a software manufacturing company in NCR, India. Did a BE and then an MBA and has been working for around 9 years now. Is pretty passionate about current affairs, but did not have a vehicle to express his opinions till now. I primarily blog at Modern Indian Man, also write about Delhi, Tech News, and Photos 1 & 2
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The Russia-Georgia Conflict - The Bear's Power


Author: Ashish


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August 12, 2008
05:33 PM

this conflict is about "control"

about "oil"

about stepping over "spheres of influence"

--- one of the best analysis i have read recently is by dilip hiro

a bi-polar world is less dangerous than a unipolar simpler words... two mad dogs are preferable over one mad dog

(this is an anticipatory response to whatever cs may write;)

August 12, 2008
08:23 PM

the habits of empire and the sense of entitlement are difficult to shake off. both the US and the ex-USSR are still at it, albeit in in different disguises: "freedom and democracy" vs. whatever. all about cornering and controlling as much resources as possible. anyone with half a brain can see that.

August 12, 2008
10:59 PM

"campaign of getting back the pro-Russian provinces of South Ossetia and a second separatist area, Abkhazia, Russia has been seething."

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Rusia now.
If that is so, any activities there by Russia can be considered internal. Media reports sounded like Russia invaded Georgia. What happened there? I am confused.

August 12, 2008
11:22 PM

They are actually part of Georgia, but outside Georgian direct control for many years now. Georgia would consider them as renegade provinces, but part of Georgian territory

August 13, 2008
12:02 AM

The Ruskis are stupid. They should have bombed Tbilisi to the 15th century. No other Country in the Caucus would have thought about NATO any more.
This also reminds me, thanks to the stupid Pakis and their Taliban regime, we have the NATO right at our border in Afghanistan. Strategic depth my foot. It took us 100s of years to get rid of these goray and our friends across the border find creative ways to get them back right in.

August 13, 2008
02:02 AM

For all those who talk of a "borderless world" and the end of nationalism and all that, this is a good reality check.

A certain amount of "us versus them" attitude is always healthy. Whenever I come across a Pakistani stranger, I always put him/her in the latter category. Some idiots on this side of the border think they are one of us and welcome them with open arms, although they may be here on a mission to plant bombs right under our asses.

August 13, 2008
03:01 AM


You have excluded China

It is a pity that we are not good at it. Exploiting other nations to our advantage should be the fundamental basis of our foreign and security policy. This will allow for more Indians to move out of poverty.

August 13, 2008
02:12 PM

Indians and more specifically hindus had never been good in exploiting other people or other nations. But I think that is virtue. Is'nt it?

The problem is that they are not good in demanding and fighting for their fair share. Not only that at times it appears that they like to bend over backward and make it easy for others to exploit them. That is my perception.

Man Singh
August 13, 2008
05:00 PM

Bhai Morris,
Your statement about Hindus is pretty valid for Hindu history till harsh vardhan times and a bit later ie around 700AD. They belived in giving to others and not in taking. Harsha himself used to give every penny in charity every 12 years in Kumbh mela.

Since 700 AD Hindus are a defeated and humiliated people for last 1000 years. When a society becomes defeated and humiliated, it starts opressing their own brothers and sisters. Hindus are no exception to it. They never exploited or enslaved others but some Lanldlords and greedy priests strated opressing their own people and continued till date.

This is the single largest challenge to hindus how to eliminate this adharma of opressing our own people since 700 AD.

It is different story that gangs of Mao, Marx, Mulla and Missionery present this Adharma itself as `Hinduism'. Websites of these 4 M's are full of such nonsense.

August 13, 2008
08:17 PM

Morris # 8, MS #9

Dil ko bahalaney key liye
Khaya acchaa hai

(A beautiful thought
If indeed self-delusion is your goal)

August 13, 2008
09:47 PM

Talking Heads song, "Same as it Ever was""

from an editorial in the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper:

""The Russian assault has very little to do with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's ill-advised decision to send troops into that troubled region, and owes much more to Moscow's determination to control energy supplies in the Caucasus and strengthen its position as a near-monopoly supplier to Europe.

Georgia is a crucial transit point for oil and gas. Three major pipelines connecting energy sources in the Caucasus and Central Asia to European markets pass through its territory. One of these, the South Caucasus pipeline, is an important part of the plan for the Nabucco pipeline to Austria, which would deliver natural gas directly to the European Union, bypassing Russia entirely, if built.

The Russian government, which controls Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, has tried frantically to cajole its European customers into ignoring Nabucco and investing instead in its own new pipelines.""

Iraq or Georgia...US or back in the USSR

August 14, 2008
10:01 PM

You do seem to have a lot of information. I guess you read a lot. That is good. I some times wonder about the conclusions you draw from the info. But that could be my delusion.

August 14, 2008
10:37 PM


Perhaps my conclusions are wrong, deluded and plain-pigheaded.Perhaps Russia, the USA and China are indeed sincerely interested in bettering th human condition across the globe and their actions have nothing whatsoever to do with access to and control of natural resources. Perhaps. But that would be an interesting point of view that would contradict all empirical evidence. Perhaps Iraq is indeed on a fast-track to democracy, the Georgia conundrum has nothing to do whatsoever with energy issues....just perhaps, maybe, maybeline.

August 15, 2008
02:10 AM


So how does the invasion and a retreat to south ossetia help them control pipelines that are built through Georgia proper? In fact, if any the invasion will rapidly increase American presence in Georgia and a even greater desire to build and protect any pipeline that will be built

August 15, 2008
09:36 AM


Good point. You are right about the increased american presence. some of this has to do with the so-called law of unintended consequences. Empire believe they can control everything and this usually drives their actions, but there are many factors they do not and indeed cannot anticipate, some of which are precipitated by their own actions - the mess in Iraq now, Vietnam earlier etc. etc.

This action has largely to do with "trying" to bring Georgia to heel, due to the energy equation. That it may not quite pan out like that in the end due to untintended consequences, does not mean that this is not the overall intention.

(Arse covering caveat: of course I could be totally wrong since I'm not a prophet and we are talking of society not physics! And, none of has access to all the facts on the ground from various perspectives!)

August 15, 2008
10:03 AM

As far as I can see, the Ruskis screwed this up big time. Have you heard of the Poles running to the Yanks to sign up a treaty last night. This will enable the Yanks to station missile interceptors in Poland. I donot understand why people think that Georgia got whacked. If any, the Ruskis screwed this up big time. They could have ended with some benefit if they had razed Tbilsi to the ground...

August 15, 2008
10:05 AM


Needless to add, the american presence in Georgia also has to do with, at the end of the day, oil and the gas pipeline. Crude it may sound, but "it's the crude, dude"; and of course all the attendent posturing, power displays, personalities, egos, ideologies etc. etc. Both the Americans and the Russians are interested in the oil there: shades of the cold war that perhaps never ended.

(the same "arse covering" caveat applies!)

August 15, 2008
10:07 AM

just notice that sridhar has posted a detailed, thoughtful analysis of this issue on DC. As usual, he makes eminent sense.

August 15, 2008
03:44 PM


You do seem to have a lot of information. I guess you read a lot. That is good. I some times wonder about the conclusions you draw from the info. But that could be my delusion."'

not being a prophet, it is not inconceivable that i am totally wrong. perhpas all imperial ventures, adventures and misadventures are fuelled by nothing but pure milk of human kindness.

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