This will bear close analysis, even with the imminent change of regime in Washington. Running, as it does, to nearly 6,000 words, I don’t have the time just now, but will hopefully return to this on the morrow. For now, read for yourselves the statement made by the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (apparently from the 9th, though it has only just gone online):
Russia’s intensified pressure and provocations against Georgia – combined with a serious Georgian miscalculation – have resulted not only in armed conflict, but in an ongoing Russian attempt to dismember that country.
The causes of this conflict – particularly the dispute between Georgia and its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – are complex, and all sides made mistakes and miscalculations. But key facts are clear: Russia sent its army across an internationally recognized boundary, to attempt to change by force the borders of a country with a democratically-elected government and, if possible, overthrow that government – not to relieve humanitarian pressures on Russian citizens, as it claimed.
This is the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union that Moscow has sent its military across an international frontier in such circumstances, and this is Moscow’s first attempt to change the borders that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union. This is a troubling and dangerous act.
Today I will seek to explain how we got here, how we’re responding, and the implications for our relationship with Russia.
Needless to say, any shift in American attitudes towards Moscow will have some significant implications for Europe. What those will be we shall have to wait and see over the coming months – November’s election is getting increasingly crucial for Europe. I’d been intending to avoid commenting on US politics, but perhaps it’s time to look in more detail at what we might expect from McCain and Obama when it comes to Europe – as it seems that their attitudes towards Russia are going to be crucial.