Sunday, August 10, 2008

The dangers of being a puppet of faraway powers.

The spillover of fighting into Georgia proper is very similar to the bombing of the Serbs by the US in Bosnia in the early 90-s and the bombing of Serbia proper in 99. In both cases, the Serbs were the Russian allies on the US's turf and the bombing, consequently, was done by the US. The US was close by and Russia was far away. As a result of that choice of an ally (some may argue that they had no choice), Serbia was severely punished.

Now it's Georgia's turn. They have pinned their hopes on a faraway ally, the US, but they are on a Russian turf. It's Russia's turn to do what the US did in 1999.

Now, what does this mean for Armenia? So far, Armenia has hedged its foreign policy - be a Russian ally but maintain close ties with the US. Armenia may not be "beta-neutral" (beta neutral strategy in investing does not lose whichever way things move) but hedging is better than committing to a single partner.

So, what does this all mean for Armenia? Economically, this will mean harder times ahead. Georgia is the transit route for the Russian gas for Armenia. If Russia stops its delivery to the Georgians, it will cut off the Armenian supplies even though the Georgians have a diversified supply from Azerbaijan the the impact from the cutoff will not be severe for them. Georgia is also a route for the Armenian imports and exports through the Georgian roads, railway and ports. If the Russians bomb these (the port of Poti has reportedly already been bombed) then these routes will affect the economic situation of the country.

As such, it is in Armenia's interest to have an active role in trying to bring the hostilities to an end in such a way that the Russians, as important allies, and Georgians, as an important neighbor, have a positive outlook on the Armenian efforts.

A second point is to reflect on the long-term alliance calculations. If Russia kicks ass and the US leaves Georgia twisting in the wind then the Armenian choice of a close alliance with the Russians would be justified. If, on the other hand, the Russians end up as the losers in this, it will be a clear signal that they are incapable of any serious role in the Caucasus and some of the Armenian policy choices will need to be revised.


spm said...

So, what does this all mean for Armenia?

well, economical problems are obvious and transparent. And I am afraid its not only because the port was bombed, but the defeat will mean another push to oust Misha and Georgia plunging again into the civil war and chaos.

But more important are the political overtures. With Russia establishing itself as the only and the most powerful power in the region, local chieftains will start to orient themselves to the new "old" Master. The Georgians will probably "elect" a new president who is pro-Russian. The Russia in return will rebuilt Gori and embrace Georgians whom they always loved.
The Azeri boss, holding strong grip on power will start trading with Russians. He got some important bargains: a share of revenues of oil and gas with Russians. But this might not be enough, I am sure Russians will want the control over it, not just money they are already washed in. If things get really tough, Azeries may agree to Russian participation in the oil projects of Caspian, after all its not important where the money comes from. However since they were much wiser than Misha in their calculations, Russians will not take all that by force but have to give something back. Guess what Azerbaijan is going to ask in return?
What about Armenia? well we are allies and "strategic partners" of Russia. We been kissing their ass since Robik wanted to be re-elected the second time. So what we can offer them? NOTHING. What we can ask them? NOTHING.
I am afraid we would be sitting on the fence and watching as our lands are once again traded with turks. Exactly as it happened at the beginning of the 20 century. Big bro will decide for us. They gave Kars, Ardahan to Turkey and Nakhichevan and Kharabakh to Azerbaidjan, and we are eternally thankful to them because they kill us in Russia for being Armenian by dozens, not by thousands.

Ani said...

New York Times is reporting that Russian troops have advanced on Gori, which is not in South Ossetia but in Georgia's heartland.
Gori, about a 45-minute drive south from the capital of South Ossetia, Tskinvali, sits in a valley that is the main route connecting the east and west halves of Georgia.

Mr. Utiashvili said the Russians were “trying to cut the country in half.” He said that if they tried to occupy Georgia, “there will probably be guerilla warfare all over the country.”
Russia had also doubled the number of its troops in Abkhazia to about 6,000, and Russian warships from the Black Sea fleet were off the territory’s coast. A column of Russian tanks was negotiating with Georgian officials to enter the Georgian city of Zugdidi, just south of Abkhazia, the Abkhaz official said.

Russia also bombed the Tblisi international airport shortly before Bernard Kouchner was due to arrive to mediate on behalf of the European Union. Only light damage was reported.

nazarian said...

They probably want to establish a security zone around South Ossetia by getting close to Gori. The weekend is almost over so they will do as much as they can until the interested parties can get together on Monday.

What I find funny is that the media outlets compare the military forces of Russia and Georgia in all seriousness. Even The Moscow Times has done so.

Ani said...

CNN report--I don't even know what to say...

Bush, Cheney signal support for Georgia

Meanwhile, Cheney talked to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Sunday, telling him that Russia's aggression against Georgia "must not go unanswered."
Cheney's spokeswoman Lea Ann McBride said the vice president spoke to Saakashvili to express "the United States' solidarity with the Georgian people and their democratically elected government in the face of this threat to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Georgia withdrew its forces Sunday and offered a ceasefire, which Russia refused.

"The vice president told President Saakashvili that Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community," McBride said.

nazarian said...

They are leaving Georgia to hang out to dry.

Anonymous said...

sp(a)m's analysis is interesting as it is mostly wishful thinking that the war in georgia/ossetia can show how much of an ass-kisser he thinks robik to be.

Haik said...

Armenia doesn't have anything else to offer to Russians. All was sold out already.
Even the neutrality is not intact. What will happen if Russia starts using its Armenian bases against Georgia (some reports say that some of the military airplanes took off from Russian bases in Gyumri)? I doubt that Armenian officials will say anything. Serj Sargsyan's is still enjoying his holiday in China. Doesn't this mean that he left the country to Russian "desires".
Armenia is not much than a Russian gubernia which at the end of the day is not a good feeling.

spm said...

from three gambling presidents of south Caucasian republics I think Misha is the worst. He stakes lives of his people, while Serj only their fortune.