Thursday, August 28, 2008

Limper than week old lettuce

The European Union is considering sanctions against Russia following its recognition of independence for the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the French foreign minister said today.

Quite what those sanctions are the Independent does not reveal.

Bernard Kouchner, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said the bloc was "trying to draw up a strong text, signifying our unwillingness to accept" Russia's stance.

Unlike Russian gas and oil which they are only too willing to accept. Maybe the Germans are going to stop selling the Russian oligarchy their fleets of BMW's and Merc's? Except, of course, with the perilous state of the German economy that isn't likely either.

France has called EU leaders to a meeting Monday in Brussels to focus on what steps the 27-member bloc will take in response to the fighting between Russia and Georgia. The EU's future relations with Russia will be discussed, and Kouchner said some countries have asked that sanctions be proposed.

Hmmm, I wonder which countries? It wouldn't be those countries that border Russia by any chance would it? And I wonder why those countries just don't go ahead and impose their own sanctions if that is what floats their boat?

"Sanctions are being considered ... and many other means as well," Kouchner said at news conference. He did not elaborate.

I'm not surprised he did not elaborate - what is he going to say? That the EU will hit the Russians with a barrage of strong texts ?- but not so strong that Russia will stop flogging their oil and gas to EU nations.

Kouchner's comments marked a turnaround from his stance Monday, when he said the EU did not envision sanctions against Russia following its brief but intense war against Georgia.

You see, that is the point that is often overlooked in this "war" - that it was intense, but brief. Actual loss of life was pretty limited - yes there were civilian casualties (considerably fewer than in the Balkans), but the action was quick and decisive.

I've compared the Russo-Georgian spat with western action against Serbia because there are distinct parallels, but one area where it differs greatly is in the length of time it took to resolve the issue. The biggest difference being that Russia did not dither and dally before taking decisive action while the west did over Serbia.

By taking swift decisive action almost immediately in response to the Georgian assault on South Ossetia Russia ensured that the Georgian army could not entrench themselves in prepared positions - an army on the move and out in the open is much easier to defeat than an army which has had time to prepare its defences.

As a result, the action was over quickly and loss of life was minimised. How very different from the Balkans where Serbian forces were allowed to establish themselves in key strategic areas and removing those forces took an awful lot longer with significant casualties.

Obeying "international law" might make liberals feel good about themselves, but it has an unfortunately detrimental effect on the people on the front line of such conflicts.

1 comment:

JuliaM said...

"Quite what those sanctions are the Independent does not reveal."

A stiff letter? Dis-invitation to the Christmas Party? Some obscene anti-Russian grafitti in the men's room at the Hague?

The possibilities are endless...