In the Financial Times Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, lays out Russia’s case for military intervention in Georgia: Georgia’s assault on South Ossetia had created a humanitarian disasters, the Georgians were actively contributing to the catastrophe, the Georgian action had resulted in the deaths of Russian peacekeepers (BTW I wouldn’t translate the word used by Russians for this as peacekeepers but as peacemakers but I suppose that’s unimportant), and a large proportion of the people of South Ossetia are Russian citizens. This last rather reminds me of the case of the man on trial for killing his parents whose lawyer in his summation calls for mercy because the man was an orphan. It calls for the question was it proper for Russia to extend Russian citizenship to the people of South Ossetia?
He states Russian intentions in the matter:
Russia has been accused of using the conflict to try to topple the government and impose control over the country. This is palpable nonsense. Having established the safety of the region, the president has declared an end to military operations. Russia has no intention of annexing or occupying any part of Georgia and has again affirmed its respect for its sovereignty. Over the next few days, on the condition that Georgia refrains from military activity and keeps its forces out of the region, Russia will continue to take the diplomatic steps required to consolidate this temporary cessation of hostilities.
As I’ve said before contrary to what seems to be a European and elite American view of world affairs I think we’re going to see a good deal more of this kind of action. The great powers act as they will within their own spheres of influence and nobody including the other great powers is in much of a position to do anything about it. Unless you believe that the U. S. should be willing to make sacrifices and risk starting a conflagration that could end the world over Georgia, that’s the way this matter is likely to end. It’s hard for me to see why the U. S. should make all of the sacrifices if our European allies who have arguably much more to lose by this than we aren’t willing to make any.
BTW see Mark Safranski’s take on the situation, largely in sync with mine.
I agree with Andrew Sullivan that Russia isn’t trying to take over the world. They’re just looking after their national interests and trying to secure their position as a regional power.
We may be the only superpower and, indeed, may remain so for the foreseeable future but we aren’t the only power in the world and the world’s regional powers which include Russia, Iran, and China should be expected to look after their own interests. As we should look after ours.