Ukraine enters the Caucasus fray

posted at 11:00 am on August 10, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Ukraine delivered a diplomatic bombshell across Russia’s bow today, escalating tensions in the region over their invasion of South Ossetia.  The Kiev government announced that they may bar the Russian Navy from using their ports in the Crimea as part of its effort to maintain neutrality.  Moscow had negotiated leases through 2017 with Kiev, and needs the ports to support its war on Georgia:

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the deployment of a Russian naval squadron to Georgia’s Black sea coast has the potential of drawing Ukraine into the conflict.

“In order to prevent the circumstances in which Ukraine could be drawn into a military conflict … Ukraine reserves the right to bar ships which may take part in these actions from returning to the Ukrainian territory until the conflict is solved,” said the statement which was posted on the ministry’s Web site.

The Ukraine government didn’t need a reminder of how Russia treats its former satellites when they get too independent, but they’re certainly learning from the Georgian example.  Ukraine’s move makes it clear to Vladimir Putin that Russia will pay a steep political and military price for their adventure in the Caucasus.  It also sends a signal of support to the beleaguered government in Tbilisi, which can use all the friends it can get at the moment.

Russia seemed surprised at the statement.  Their defense minister called the warning “quite unexpected”, but it follows normal diplomatic protocols.  Any nation providing military support for a belligerent during an armed conflict is a de facto belligerent themselves, unless they cut off that support.  Ukraine’s action isn’t just expected but a normal response for any nation wishing to remain at least neutral.

Russia may gain South Ossetia and Abkhazia in this grab, but Putin has let the mask slip.  Former Soviet republics will learn to to fear Russia and to gravitate to the West for protection — as long as we stand firmly for Georgia.  Fortunately, the Bush administration is now following John McCain’s lead on this issue and sending exactly that signal.


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I doubt very seriously that Sarkozy is going to let Putin have that oil pipeline in Georgia so he can shut it down when they don’t dance to his tune.

To me this is about Putin wanting the oil pipeline and wanting to teach that young upstart in Georgia a lesson. Remember that he is the one that brought down Putin’s proxy without some much as a shot fired, with a red rose above his head no less!! Then he made Bush his BFF, moved towards NATO and even had the audacity to sent 2000 troops to Iraq! Putin must be pissed!! He wants to see him in the Hague as payback for Milosovich.

Bush must be livid! And from what I read in the archives of that Georgia Daily newspaper this has been building since about March intensely when Condi made a visit to Georgia and Putin went ballistic about it.

So let’s not jump the shark just yet… ;)

Texas Gal on August 10, 2008 at 11:04 PM

I think the goal is to save the democracy in Georgia and her international boundaries. If they have to let SO go, then let them go. Seriously, that is not the goal of Putin, he could care less about that tiny province, we wants Georgia.

Texas Gal on August 10, 2008 at 11:07 PM

UPDATE 3-U.S. suggests Russia wants “regime change” in Georgia

… Khalilzad then looked straight at Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and asked if Moscow was looking for “regime change.”

“Is the goal of the Russian Federation to change the leadership of Georgia?” he said.

Churkin did not directly address the question but said there are leaders who “become an obstacle.”…

Khalilzad told reporters the telephone call between Rice and Lavrov was “disturbing,” adding that the days of overthrowing European governments by force were over….

Khalilzad said Russia was waging “terror” in Georgia.

“We must condemn Russia’s military assault on the sovereign state of Georgia … including the targeting of civilians and the campaign of terror against the Georgian population,” he said.

Khalilzad also accused Russia of preventing the withdrawal of Georgian forces from South Ossetia to prolong the conflict and prevent Georgia from laying down its arms.

“Since Russia is impeding Georgian forces from withdrawing, rejecting a cease-fire and continuing to carry out military attacks against civilian centers, its claims of a humanitarian purpose clearly are not credible,” Khalilzad said.

Churkin was furious that Khalilzad used the word “terror”.

“This statement, ambassador, is completely unacceptable, particularly from the lips of the permanent representative of a country whose actions we are aware of, including with regard to the civilian populations in Iraq and Afghanistan and Serbia,” Churkin told the council. (Editing by Philip Barbara)

TheBigOldDog on August 10, 2008 at 11:31 PM

From Putin’s side this isn’t about SO. Putin didn’t stop the attack when Georgia withdrew from SO. He just increased demands. Now Lavrov is saying they demand Shaakasvili replaced – presumably with a Russian stooge. I am afraid giving in on SO is not going to make any difference.

kittysaidwoof on August 11, 2008 at 12:06 AM

The… “missunderestimated”…
Has been…”misunderstood”…!

J_Gocht on August 11, 2008 at 12:47 AM

Would someone suggest to the Obama campaign that they send Obama over to Ossetia tomorrow so he can show us live and in person how his penchant for wanting to talk to foreign leaders with no preconditions will end all wars, stop all conflicts, and bring on the wonderment of the new day?

coldwarrior on August 10, 2008 at 10:56 PM

Maybe the Oabama world tour could have another opening act. Maybe this time a Reggae act…..oh wait…..

Johan Klaus on August 11, 2008 at 12:51 AM

“…Hey, by the freedom lovin’ “Ruskise’s”…!

Hey,Yegevney…!

J_Gocht on August 11, 2008 at 12:53 AM

Sorry asse…!
Your vote…!
Not mine…!

J_Gocht on August 11, 2008 at 1:06 AM

Cheney has issued a strongly worded statement to the Russians about their aggression toward Georgia.

Johan Klaus on August 11, 2008 at 1:11 AM

I would like to note that while Russia tries to re-claim the former USSR satellite states, George Bush is in China making whoopie with Communist Oligarchs and playing spanky with Olympic Volleyball Babes. Again this is what I mean by MBAs make the worst kind of world as politicians. Corporations are Multinational and loyal only to the shareholders as they should be. As political leaders they are wholly inadequate for they lack the vision, idealism and principals to protect and further the cause of human liberty. In fact, Liberty is anathema to Corporate Structure. You need a Boss, a Board, Managers and Employees. In a state run by corporate ideals, all citizens are Employees and so have no rights. Only “privileges”. The key difference being, “Rights” are a birthright and “Privileges” are granted. I have no truck with Capitalism and Corporate Structure however, Corporations are the Church of our era and should be separated from our Government as firmly as religion is currently. They also should be stripped of their “Legal Personhood” status as this perverts our Bill of Rights and is an abomination respect to the establishment and safeguarding of Human Rights. Human rights must not extend to a conglomerate of legal construction and indeed by granting personhood to these entities, they have in fact usurped governmental authority and have stolen our liberty. At work I accept that I have few rights and are subject to managements will so I comply without reservation. When I go home however, it is unacceptably unfair that I must compete politically with a “person” ,with billions of dollars with which to force it will upon me, when I am dependent on that same “person” for my wellbeing and livelihood. We are reaping the results of this conflict of interest between Corp and State. We are not far removed from the Serfs of Medieval Feudalism. Only now the Castle is eighty stories high and made of glass and steel. Oh, and we live like kings for the most part. I thank the Corporations for employing me and I don’t blame them or conceive a vast conspiracy. Corporations follow natural law as Adam Smith delineated yet they are subject to all the foibles of mankind. Greed, Egotism and Elitism, Authoritarianism and Hubris. I don’t thank them for robbing me of my humanity by usurping my inalienable rights, claiming them for their own then using them against me.

ronsfi on August 11, 2008 at 1:39 AM

I would like to add that I don’t believe a Corporation has a mind of it’s own. It has a hive mind and therein lies the most insidious threat to our LIBERTY.

…..Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it…..The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

ronsfi on August 11, 2008 at 2:01 AM

ronsfi, I dunno about that, honestly. I’m plenty critical of Bush at times, but the administration’s response has been pretty strong. I saw an interview of Bush done by Bob Costas tonight and Bush said he’d expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms to both Putin and the new “president” of Russia in person. They had film of the impromptu Putin chat, and it looked like Bush basically cornered Putin and forced him to listen to him, both backs turned to the camera.

The administration big guns are on it (Negroponte and Cheney) and now we’ve got strong statements from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, and Finland siding with Georgia.

Sarko wants to send somebody to “mediate?” I don’t like it, but as I said earlier France and Russia have been chummy for decades, so it doesn’t surprise me. I surely haven’t heard Gordon Brown or even Angela Merkel try to take a leading role in dealing with the crisis.

funky chicken on August 11, 2008 at 3:02 AM

Two quick points, then off to bed:

1. The Costas interview was very good, IMHO. Tough but fair questions, polite response, etc. Bush did a great job. He hesitated and spluttered a bit on the questions about Georgia because the new president’s name is a real tongue twister, and (guessing) he had naughty curse words on the tip of his tongue but obviously was self censoring a bit.

2. Bush 41 is with Bush 43 in China, and the whole family is spending time with Hu Jintao and other top folks in their government. Pooty Poot is way, way outflanked if he thought the Chinese would actively assist his grand new adventure … the Chinese remember Bush 41 from way back.

good night!

funky chicken on August 11, 2008 at 3:46 AM

Oh, finally, Zalmay Khalilzad looks like a winner.

funky chicken on August 11, 2008 at 3:48 AM

but the administration’s response has been pretty strong. I saw an interview of Bush done by Bob Costas tonight and Bush said he’d expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms to both Putin and the new “president” of Russia in person.

funky chicken on August 11, 2008 at 3:02 AM

lol.

Bush: You are a bad Pooty Poot.

Putin: Oh go #uck off George.

MB4 on August 11, 2008 at 6:22 AM

I would like to note that while Russia tries to re-claim the former USSR satellite states, George Bush is in China making whoopie with Communist Oligarchs

Politically speaking in regard to building alliances to address this Russian aggression, it actually might have been advantageous that Bush was in China when Putin decided to invade Georgia.

What major world powers stand with Russia now?

Texas Gal on August 11, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Texas Gal on August 11, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Alliances? With Communist Oligarchs? No thank you. We as a freedom loving people should be bare knuckles brawling with the criminal regime who presses the Chinese People into servitude. It’s not where the President of the United States is, it’s how it looks. He’s there playing grabass with Commie thugs while Putin drops houses on innocents.

ronsfi on August 11, 2008 at 1:30 PM

Oh! But look at the pretty fireworks though! Ooooh! Nevermind.

ronsfi on August 11, 2008 at 1:31 PM

OMG, teh Dipl0matic B0msh331!!!11

Wake me up when any Russian ship reports to Ukrainian authorities.

freevillage on August 11, 2008 at 2:39 PM

Alliances? With Communist Oligarchs? No thank you. We as a freedom loving people should be bare knuckles brawling with the criminal regime who presses the Chinese People into servitude.

I share your feeling about China’s oppression of their people. But there is an opportunity here to drive a wedge between China and Russia over Iran. And does China really want to see the return of the USSR empire?

It’s not where the President of the United States is, it’s how it looks. He’s there playing grabass with Commie thugs while Putin drops houses on innocents.

ronsfi on August 11, 2008 at 1:30 PM

It’s a calculated risk. It would also weaken the Georgian president’s image to look like he was crawling to Bush to save him. Bush also didn’t send the message that Georgia was a US puppet state. You’ll notice that in his editorial the Georgian President called on both the US and Europe.

This situation has to be handled in a fashion that returns us to the status quo without losing either Georgia to Russia or their democratically elected president to a Putin puppet.

Your characterization of Bush playing grabass seems of an advanced case of BDS.

Texas Gal on August 11, 2008 at 3:49 PM

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