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Some belated thoughts on the Russia-Georgia war

Siberian Light returns from vacation with some belated thoughts on the Russia-Georgia war.

Russian Tanks on the MarchAs is traditional, something exciting happens in Russia during August. As is also now traditional I go away on holiday throughout August, close down Siberian Light, and completely miss the excitement.

This August, of course, Russia and Georgia both managed to find themselves in the middle of a small, and entirely unnecessary war. Following the war and subsequent diplomatic developments via two day old copies of international newspapers has given me the opportunity to reflect on a few of the key issues of the past month or so at a rather more leisurely pace than usual.

So, here, without further delay, are some belated (and at times slightly random) thoughts on the Russia-Georgia crisis.  Feel free to add to these, or disagree with me in the comments…

Who started the war?

Start.  One or Two players?The Western media is doing a very good job of painting Russia as the bad guy in this war. And it’s pretty clear that Russia hasn’t really covered itself with glory. But the ultimate blame for this silly little war must, I believe, go to Georgia and it’s President, Mikheil Saakashvili.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about whether Russia actually started this war. People arguing that the provocations started the war, or that Russian troops were ready to go the minute Georgia launched their invasion of South Ossetia.

Yes, Georgia faced some pretty strong provocations in the lead up to the war. Russian planes had been overflying Georgia for months, and its troops had been coming under sporadic attack from across the border in South Ossetia.

But all of these provocations were relatively small scale and any leader worth his salt should have considered the wider strategic implications, considered the possibility that they were designed to provoke an over-reaction from Georgia, considered the overwhelming strength of his opponents military allies, and found a less confrontational way of resolving the issue than by launching a full-on invasion.

Instead, Saakashvili took the most monumental gamble, invaded South Ossetia, and walked straight into a carefully laid Russian trap. And, to top it all off, his military let him down horribly when they failed to even attempt to close the tunnel – an easy chokepoint – that Russian forces were soon to pour through en route to their counter-attack.

Imagine if you, a weedy little nerd, were standing next to a seven year old kid who was calling you names. And his muscle bound father were standing behind him, menacingly tapping his baseball bat into his palm. Would you really punch the little kid on the nose?

Who won the actual shooting war?

Russian TankUmmm, Russia.  But how well did their military actually perform in combat?

By all accounts I’ve seen, they turned in a solid, if unspectacular performance which made the best of their strengths (overwhelming manpower, lots of tanks and lots of airplanes), and tried to minimize their weaknesses (not particularly well trained troops, and a lack of technological superiority).

Some 15,000 Russian soldiers and 150 tanks deployed in a field of operations as small as South Ossetia were always going to roll over the Georgian army which, except for some high quality professional and US trained units, is still largely conscript based.

The Russians were given a big hand, though, by some atrocious Georgian military planning.  The main road from Russia into South Ossetia goes through the Roki Tunnel, a natural chokepoint for a Russian armour based assault.  Incredibly, though, the Georgia military took no steps to close the tunnel to Russian forces.  True, they couldn’t get enough manpower to the tunnel quickly enough to take possession but, once it became evident that a full scale Russian assault was underway, they should have at least made every effort to bomb the entrance to the tunnel.

The big story, though, was probably Russia’s performance in the air.  Facing just 18 Georgian planes, Russia was always going to achieve dominance of the air, and used it well to target Georgia’s key military and industrial infrastructure.

But, despite their overwhelming air superiority, Georgia still managed to shoot down at least seven Russian planes (the exact number is unclear).  Partly this must be due to a well drilled performance from Georgia’s air defence units, but more significant were Russian weaknesses.  In particular their lack of communication ability, and tactical mistakes (they didn’t take out Georgia’s air defence system as quickly as they could have) counted against them.

Still, Russia will be relatively pleased with its military performance, particularly when contrasted with previous performances in Chechnya.  They’ve proved that their military has come a long way over the last few years, and have demonstrated clearly to their weaker neighbours that picking a fight with Russia is a really, really bad idea.

US analysts will also be thrilled.  Not only because Russia have clearly demonstrated that their military isn’t a match for a well drilled US force.  But, more importantly, they’ll be drooling over the prospect of getting their hands of terabytes upon terabytes of juicy data from their Georgian ally…

Was Russia right to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states?

IndependenceRecognising both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states may cause Russia some short and long term problems. But, on balance, I think Russia made the right decision to recognise them.

Some have argued that it makes Geogia’s accession into NATO easier, because NATO requires that member states have resolved their territorial disputes.  Long term, I think Russia’s decision to recognise both states will make it easier for Georgia to fomally abandon its claims to them, in favour of NATO membership.

Others have argued that recognition will encourage Russia’s other restless nations (nearby Chechnya and Ingushetia, for example) into thinking that they could push for independence from Russia.  This, realistically, is nonsense.  If Chechnya and Ingushetia really push for independence, they’ll more than likely just encourage the Russian military to come marching back into its restless provinces.  Realpolitik would easily trump enthusiasm for independence – certainly under the current Russian regime.

And, of course, Russia’s decision to recognise two new independent states without any international support has done no good at all to its relations with the rest of the world in the short term.

But, on the plus side, Russia has grabbed two new vassal states, and pretty much cemented their independence from Georgia.  More than likely, the next step will be to bring those states into the Russian Federation formally – although probably not for a few years yet.  If you’re Russian, it’s hard to argue against increasing the size of the Russian state.

Recognition will also, oddly, have the effect of increasing stability in the Caucasus, and will reduce tensions between Russia and Georgia in the long term.  Georgia will eventually see sense and abandon its claim to its two provinces in favour of (a) recognising reality and moving on with life and (b) getting NATO membership.   And if there is no territorial dispute for Russia and Georgia to focus on, they can instead focus on building a reasonably rational and peaceful relationship.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Russia was never going to have a better opportunity to recognise South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence.  It really was a case of use it, or lose it.

Should Geogia join NATO?

NATO flagIt’s clearly in Georgia’s interests to join NATO.  But the real question is – does NATO want Georgia?

Initially, my view was that NATO would have to be crazy to accept Georgia as a member now, after the war.  Georgia is geographically isolated from the rest of the Alliance, and would be next to impossible to defend militarily from a Russian attack.  And, of all the NATO member countries, it would be the least predictable and the most likely to get itself into a fire-fight.

However, I’m coming to believe that in the long term it may well be in NATO’s interests to allow Georgia to join.  If Georgia had been a full-member in August, I’d argue that the war would probably have been avoided.  It would have acted as a deterrent to Russia but, more importantly, Georgia would have been told in no uncertain terms to stop pissing around and that to invade South Ossetia and directly provoke Russia would undermine the stability and security of the Alliance as a whole.

End result – less likelihood of a war.

But, even if a conflict were to break out, Georgia’s NATO allies would not necessarily be obliged to come to its aid.  A lot has been said about Artice 5, and many have argued that it would compel NATO members to come to the defence of any ally under attack .  But actually Article 5 does not compel members to come to the aid of fellow members.  It was first invoked after 9/11 to express solidarity with the United States, but it was certainly not invoked with Argentina attacked Great Britain in the Falkland Islands in 1982.

If Georgia sees sense, and resolves its territorial disputes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the fast-track to membership.


  • Hello from a long time lurker and first time poster!

    I enjoyed reading the post, but I have two comments:

    1) You say “Georgia will eventually see sense and abandon its claim to its two provinces,” but I find that to be a bit too deterministic. I think it’s possible, and perhaps even likely after this war, but Saakashvili’s decision to “punch the little kid on the nose,” as you so vividly described it, indicates to me that Georgia seeing sense on something related to what it defines as its territorial integrity is by no means a guarantee. It may also define “sense,” quite a bit differently, as relinquishing Ossetia and Abkhazia might (admittedly this is a remote possibility, but one that is important for many Georgians) encourage an Adjarian breakaway attempt and encourage even more Russian intervention, this time on the south end of Georgia.
    2) This is me nitpicking, but Georgia is not completely geographically isolated from NATO. It does in fact border on Turkey, which has been in NATO since 1952. Defending it would indeed be tricky, but not at all impossible, since NATO does control about half of the Black Sea’s coastline and airspace (which would become even more if Ukraine ever accedes). Furthermore, if Iraq (this being purely speculative on my part by the by, and not intended to indicate support for or opposition to the war there) turns out to have some sort of long-term American troop presence there akin to, say, Germany, even more NATO troops would be available for deployment, again through Turkey. This would be a logistical nightmare under current circumstances, but it could be made viable in the long term. Lastly, if it acceded, you could bet it would invite the construction of NATO military bases and the extension of the missile-defense project, though that latter could easily turn into Cuban Missile Crisis Round Two, in the sense that the American advance-silos in the 1960s were in, again, Turkey.

  • Hi Christian, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I agree to an extent – Georgia is still unpredictable. And it may well be that the internal political ramifications – Saakashvili is, in my view, doomed in the longer term – lead to the arrival of a government with grand ambitions.

    But I think that it’s more likely that Georgia has now (a) had a big shock to the system, which will make everyone involved in Georgian politics sit back and think about what is really important to them, and (b) been gifted an opportunity to forget about South Ossetia and Abkhazia. While their status was stil unclear, any Georgian government was honour bound to try to bring them back into the fold by whatever means necessary. Now that they’ve obtained de facto independence, Georgian governments now have the excuse they need to abandon two restless provinces that can bring them nothing but trouble.

    Good point about Adjaria though – I have no idea how things will play out there. I think they’re likely to remain a part of Georgia, because they are geographically separated from Russia, but the long term prospects there are very unclear.

    With regard to Georgia not being geographically isolated from NATO, you’re absolutely right. That accidentally slipped into the final version of this post.

    I do think that Georgia would be very difficult to defend though, through Turkey – as you say, a logistical nightmare. But, were Ukraine to also be a part of NATO, its defence would presumably be significantly easier. (Assuming, of course, that it’s NATO allies felt it was either necessary or politically desirable to physically defend Georgia!)

  • The conflict in Georgia is about more than a land-grab. Russia’s recent actions are unlikely to increase stability anywhere, and certainly not in Europe. As Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt pointed out on August 9:

    “A Europe in which we would accept the right of Russia to intervene in any country where there are holders of Russian passports – or the right of any other nation to intervene in the same way – would be a Europe sinking down again in the chaos and conflicts of the past.

    “That’s why this conflict now is not only about South Ossetia and Georgia – it is about principles fundamental to the peace and stability of all of Europe. And the defence of these principles should be the duty of each and every one of us.”

  • Which Gulag in Siberia do you blog from? Perhaps you should change the title to Siberian Lightly censored. I don’t know if you receive funds from the Kremlin, but you follow its line.

    Before you blog, you ought to at least educate yourself instead of posting untruthful diarrhea all over the internet. First, it was Russia, which instigated the war using the Southern Ossetian Bandits as bait. Please read Michael Totten’s report, the August 26th article, which squarely lays the blame on Russia.

    South Ossetia and Abkhazia are Georgian territories, more so than Dagestan and Chechnya are Russian territories. Georgian did not invade a sovereign nation. Georgia sent troops into a an unruly province of its own country. Russia invaded Georgia. Russia bombed Georgian cities. Russia occupied cities like Poti and sank ships. Why Poti? Poti was hundreds of miles away from the conflict.

    I’ll tell you why. You might be too thick headed to understand. Putin wants to control the flow of oil in Russia’s backyard. The Georgian pipeline is not under his control. Putin has to bring about regime change in Georgia to get control of the pipeline. That is what this whole conflict is about. You can side with Putin or you can side with the Free world. I am siding with the Free world.

  • “Recognising both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states may cause Russia some short and long term problems. But, on balance, I think Russia made the right decision to recognise them.” Siberian Light

    South Ossetia has a microscopic population of 60,000. If every disgruntled minority group of that size in the world justifies a massive foreign invasion and de-facto annexation, watch out. Few borders on Earth are so perfectly drawn along ethnic lines. Russia’s own are certainly not.

  • Thanks for your comment Michael. Let me clarify a few things, as I clearly didn’t write the above post in a way that made things clear to you when you read it.

    Firstly, there is a big difference between starting a conflict, and starting a war. Russia/South Ossetia started the former, Georgia started the latter with it’s full scale invasion of South Ossetia. True, Russia also didn’t have to react the way it did, with a counter-invasion, and should have restrained itself. Equally, it shouldn’t have launched such large scale provocations.

    Just to clarify – I didn’t at any stage say that Russia was right to attack Georgia. Just that Georgia was stupid to send its troops into South Ossetia. Sometimes, when you know you’re going to take a kicking, picking a fight with a muscle bound moron isn’t a great idea. Even when your neighbour is threatening you. Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses.

    Secondly, when referring to whether Russia was right to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia, I wasn’t considering the moral aspect of the decision. I was thinking about whether Russia made the right choice for itself, given the geopolitical implications. Long time readers of Siberian Light will know that I take a ‘Realist’ approach to the theory of International Relations, but I could have made that clearer in the post above. I fully take your point that not every disgruntled ethnic group should get independence (it’s a dangerous long term strategy for any state to pursue) but, from Russia’s perspective, it currently has more to gain from a few ethnic groups achieving independence (previous S Ossetia and Abkhazia) and today ‘micro-states’ like Trans-Dneister. The question is, will the short term benefits of this to Russia outweigh the longer term instability that joining the US in promoting ethnic succession (think Kosovo) will cause.

    Thirdly, I fully agree that Russia wants to bring about regime change in Georgia. Sadly, Saakashvili has played into Putin’s hands with his ill-considered assault on South Ossetia.

    Finally, I suggest that you take a look through the back archives of Siberian Light before saying that I follow the Kremlin line. When Russia does something right, I’ll praise it. When it does something wrong, I’ll criticise it. Usually, at the moment, the current Russian government seems to be doing something wrong.

  • How do you invade your own country? That is like saying Russia invaded Chechnya to put down the rebels. This is nonsense. Saakashvili had no choice to send in his soldiers to put down the Ossetian Bandits.

    The Kosovo argument is a false argument.
    Georgia has a population of 4 million. Southern Ossetia has a population of 60,000. 40,000 are Ossetians. Are telling me, you recognize this tiny minority as an independent state? Kosovo population in 90% Albanian an represents over 1 million people. Ossetians carry Russian passports only because Russia was giving them out. A Russian in Moscow has to wait three to four months to get a Russian passport. Ossetians were getting passports in a days. Why the difference? Was Putin up to something? Perhaps?

    Abkhazians are in the majority so they should have an independent country if they want, right? Wrong. Abkhazia ethnically cleansed 200,000 Georgians from “Abkhazia” with the help of the Russians. Now, Abkhazia says, hey, we are in the majority, so give us an independent nation. Recently, Russia sent transportation troops to rebuild the Abkhazian railroad. It turns out these troops were really Russian special forces, armed to the teeth.

    These regimes are puppets of the Kremlin. They are part of a grand plan to regain control of the ex Soviet republics. Divide and conquer if you will. Georgia represents a bright light in a cloud of darkness that has descended on Russia since Putin took office. The sham election of Medvedev is proof that Russia has a tyrannical government and is harassing its neighbors. Why you can’t see this, I don’t know. Perhaps you do not have access to Western Media. I was in Russia a month ago and it was totally 100% propaganda.

    The Georgian operation was planned since April when Saakashvili agreed to a road map to join Nato. Russia will never let that happen. Saakashvili was doing all he could to defend his country. I don’t think he thought Russia would venture as far as it did. Apparently, Putin did not either. See article.

    I appreciate your openness and earnest response. I just believe you need to do more research. Russia is in the wrong. Georgia needs to be defended.

  • Thanks for your comment, again, Michael. You’ve raised quite a few points, so I’ve posted my thoughts below, after mini-excerpts from your comment.

    “How do you invade your own country?”

    I think the concept of ‘your own country’ is a rather moot point in situations such as these, where one group of people wants a chunk of land to be either independent or to be a part of one country, and another group of people wants that same chunk of land to be a part of their country.

    “Are telling me, you recognize this tiny minority as an independent state?”

    Personally, no. The chances of such a small state being viable are slim to none. Eventually they’ll more than likely be absorbed into Russia.

    “Abkhazia ethnically cleansed 200,000 Georgians from “Abkhazia” with the help of the Russians. Now, Abkhazia says, hey, we are in the majority, so give us an independent nation.”

    I’m a big believer in looking at the facts on the ground. There is virtually no chance that Georgians could re-settle Abkhazia without further bloodshed over the next decade or two. For the sake of the lives of both Abkhazians and Georgians in the area, it’s probably best that no such attempt is made. A better option for the medium term security of these two territories is to remain separate from Georgia, morally distateful as that may seem.

    These regimes are puppets of the Kremlin.

    Yes. And they’re largely run by criminals too. They aren’t nice, but they are the men in power, and have the support of their people – much as you or I might dislike this.

    Georgia represents a bright light in a cloud of darkness that has descended on Russia since Putin took office.

    I firmly agree. Georgia is still far from perfect, but it is struggling towards democracy. We should encourage and defend this. However, the current Georgian government has made it very difficult to do this.

    Saakashvili has also undermined his own domestic support, and this is likely to give his opponents a political opportunity. How domestic political developments play out over the next year or so will tell us a lot about how far Georgia is along the road to democracy.

    The sham election of Medvedev is proof that Russia has a tyrannical government and is harassing its neighbors. Why you can’t see this, I don’t know.

    Again, I agree. If you check back through my archives, you’ll see that before the election I referred to Medvedev as “Putin’s Poodle”. I’ve been consistent in criticising the state of Russian democracy for years.

    Perhaps you do not have access to Western Media.

    I live in London (Moscow on the Thames) and so probably have access to a freer media than most to the West of me. Sorry – couldn’t resist 😉

  • Pictured: I am curious about the WII vintage T-34 tanks parading down towards Tskhinvali. The Russian Army must be in worse shape then we thought having to take out of mothballs the T-34’s to defend the Motherland. 😉

  • Thanks for another interesting post Andy. However, when you discuss whether Russia was right to recognise A & SO I wonder whether your conclusion matches your reasoning.

    I agree with you that this could eventually ease the way to Georgia making the pragmatic decision to abandon their claims over these provinces in favour of a settled border and joining NATO.

    For that very reason though, wouldn’t it have been strategically smarter for Russia to not recognise their independence and kept them simmering over as rebellious provinces within Georgia? Ie. restore the status quo after a short, sharp show of strength and continue to undermine Georgian territorial integrity.

    Of course this assumes (1) that Russia’s goal is indeed to keep Georgia out of NATO and (2) that Georgia would indeed have eventually accepted A & SO’s independence as the price of joining NATO.

    I should add before anyone starts hyperventilating – I’m not at all saying I support that sort of cynical policy-making, only that it seems like the sort of calculus which probably is in play.

  • James, I think Medvedev & Putin were facing a bit of a dilemna when it came to recognising A & SO.

    They probably would have liked to keep the pressure on Georgia (or, to be more precise, the current Georgian government), and the best way to do that would have been to maintain the instability in the Caucasus. But, on the other hand, domestic pressure to recognise the two states was immense, and every leader needs to keep a close eye on the domestic mood.

    The biggest downside for Russia in recognising A & SO is, as we have both noted, that it paves Georgia’s way into NATO.

    But I think that there are some pretty big pluses for Russia that will come out of their decision to grant recognition.
    Firstly, they’ll either get extra territory or two vassal states. Secondly, security in the Caucasus will probably be enhanced in the long term which I think is actually of benefit to both Russia and Georgia (although perhaps not quite the result that the Kremlin was actually seeking).

    And, who knows, maybe the hammer blow of losing A & SO will bring about a regime change in Georgia anyway, which would suit Russia just fine…

    (Gosh, aren’t we all getting cynical these days?)

  • Wow, you guys seemed to get pretty heated. Well, it is clearly conceivable that Michael is a bit anti-Russian, but I don’t think there is a right nor wrong answer to all of this speculation. I just think that people have certain opinions, and sharing these opinions brings you closer to the intent of what happened. Now, here’s my opinion, like Andy said, take it, criticize it, tell me what you think. I truly think that this war was instigated by Cheney and the Republicans to add some spice to John McCain’s campaign to make him seem “more qualified with foreign policy”. It was an utter failure by the Republicans. Ironically they chose to initiate this conflict during the Olympics. Now, whose right and wrong, I really can’t answer that. I believe that this was something that Russia planned for, but I do not believe that Russia initiated the conflict. I do know for a fact that the majority of the population in South Ossetia and Abkhazia aren’t young people though, they are quite mid to older in age, so when it comes to people saying that South Ossetia were the aggressors, I don’t completely shut that notion down, but I do look down upon it. There had been many border altercations between the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the Georgian military. I tend to have an international perspective, and the way that the Georgians talked about South Ossetia and Abkhazia made it seem like they honestly thought that those two provinces were there own countries that they couldn’t lose. That’s why when Andy says that Georgia invaded South Ossetia, I believe this is the correct wording, because Georgia views them as others, not Georgians. Now, lets move to Russia. I believe that the Russians did what they had to do to repel the invasion. I believe this is was their main reason in giving those passports out to the people of the two breakaway regions, so that they had a reason to defend them. But Russia took advantage of the opportunity while they were there to make a blatant power statement. If you were Russia, you would feel a bit uneasy. NATO pushing closer and closer to you and a missile defense system in your own backyard. This will be definitely reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia has a reason to be defensive, just like we did back in the sixties. As for the United States, why were they training Georgians military personnel on the eve of this conflict? Why was Israel doing the same? Makes you speculate about who the real instigators of the conflict were right? And then who flew the Georgian troops from Iraq to Tblisi to defend the capital. But the United States claims to have no intervention in Georgia militarily. I’ve read many sources of media on this conflict. Truly, this is my response to Michael. I can’t take it. They are too biased towards Russia. You can’t get a fair and balanced article. CNN, FOX, and MSNBC take it passed the line. But, if you want good news, you have to read. Reuters is quite fair, and I’ve read many Russian papers online, and very few papers from the West, which I’m from, California. But going back to the conflict, I do think that it was about territory in the beginiing, but in the long run, it was about oil. Putin and Medvedev severely weakened Georgia, and the pipeline is just an utter disaster. Russia strategically bombed roads and railways, even bridges that were mainly used in conjunction with the pipeline. They did this to basically anger the West. Sinking the ships in Poti, with U.S. weapons on them, was solely another strategic move by Russia. If the United States says that they weren’t intervening militarily, well, how did these weapons get here. And the humvees. That made me laugh, when the Russians took the U.S. humvees. This war should make you think more about Serbia and Kosovo and draw some lines, make them connect. I don’t think that Russia should not have recognized the two breakaway regions as independent states because if their goal is to prevent NATO from coming closer, they just contradicted themselves. As for Ukraine, I think that they will be under a Russian magnifying glass since there is speculation about Ukraine also intervening in the August War. As for Poland and the Czech Republic, we can only hope for the best, and hopefully a new U.S. president will revoke this missile shield. John McCain won’t, he’s a super criticizer of Russia, I mean, this guy goes to some extremes. Sarah Palin said that she would even attack Russia, for what reason, I’m not sure. I don’t think that Russia has aspirations to create a new union, and I know for a fact that they aren’t militarily harassing their neighbors, like Michael said. They are simply enjoying their oil wealth. Europe will never attack Russia, they are too dependent on Russian oil to do so. Russia is just waiting for the Middle East to run out of oil so that they can be the world’s largest exporters, and generate crazy revenues, grow rich and prosperous, like the West. They are on that path. If the West doesn’t start building drilling infrastructure and trying to find an alternative to our economy and energy crisis, which is greatly affected Europe and Japan, we, along with the world, will find ourselves in the Russian grip. I honestly think that NATO should stop what they are doing by trying to control all of the countries in the world, trust Russia, and maybe U.S. and Russia can begin trade on a large scale. But, I really don’t know what will happen, it all depends on the new U.S. president, and the nature of the world’s economy. My notion is that if you want less stress between the U.S. and Russia, vote Obama. Even though he criticizes Russia, he’s a politician, and he knows the truth, he knows how that small war started, but the way he deals with it is a different story. Anyways, I typed too much, pleas please respond!

  • President Medvedev said he talked with George Bush during the crisis and was told by the president, “what do you need this for?” and he responded, “George, I had no choice, and if you were in my shoes, you would have done exactly the same, only more brutally.”

  • Russia has demonstrated infinite patience as the West casually ignores old promises not to grow NATO, the Cold War military relic that struggles for some real purpose aside from reckless expansionism and sweeping up after US-led invasions. Now, in its latest push eastwards, Uncle Sam wants to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Naturally, Russia feels threatened.
    Given the incredible gains that have been made in missile and satellite technology, compounded by America’s totally reckless foreign policy decisions, this initiative has every chance of snowballing into a later-day Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of disaster in 1962. After all, the NMD plan is not limited to just Poland and the Czech Republic, as many in the West pretend it to be.
    Yes, Russia’s critics are correct: many nations in the West do not hold military parades in their capitals. But maybe they should give the idea a chance: Parade military hardware around Washington if you must, but please spare the world from any more military misadventures.

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