Russia tries to exploit division in Europe
Moscow's strategy to drive a wedge between European countries was on display during Monday's EU crisis meeting.
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Yet Eckart von Klaeden, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in Brussels, described Mr. Lavrov's comments as "the attempt to separate Germany from its allies, and this will fail. Trying to separate us from Europe has been the Russian strategy for a long time, [and] in many ways."Skip to next paragraph
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One problem for Moscow, say diplomats, is that its separation strategy depends heavily on an international consensus that its border-changing actions in Georgia are themselves reasonable.
Yet so far, other states have not agreed. China, the world's other rising superpower, last week broke with its traditional support of Moscow on the question at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
"Russia has discarded what it presented as a basic interest, that of post-Soviet borders," argues François Heisbourg, in Paris. "For the rest of the world this was clear, understandable, and it made sense. That has been thrown to the wind, and has caused deep anger in the rest of the world. This was not chess, it was extreme poker; it is very worrying when a superpower state doesn't act out of reasonable interests."
Last week, in an interview with CNN, and later with German ARD TV, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of provoking Georgia's leadership to attack the Republic of South Ossetia in a bid to create an international disturbance that would help unite the US electorate around the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona.
Although Russian military officers have stated that Georgia's weapons were supplied by the US, the White House described Mr. Putin's assertion as "ludicrous."
At a German Marshall Fund debate ahead of the EU summit, Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of State in charge of Eurasian affairs, who shuttled this spring between Moscow and Tbilisi, countered the Russian charge of military aid. "We gave [Georgia] uniforms, boots, Kalishnikovs, sidearms... no heavy weapons. We did not arm, or provide arms. When [Georgian troops] left Iraq, they left their weapons behind."
Mr. Byrza also advocated that the international community now enter Georgia and examine closely what actually happened during the Aug. 8 crisis in South Ossetia – look into the charges of genocide leveled by Russia as a reason for entering the republic. "Let's investigate. Let's look at what happened. Let's be transparent."
Russian officials in South Ossetia have said they are not yet ready for such investigations, citing security concerns.
A proposed EU mission to Georgia would include both military and non-military observers, according to a new blog, "Bruxelles2," that is devoted to EU security matters.
The EU mission, described as taking place in two phases, the second in November, would constitute several hundred personnel, and supplement a mission in Georgia of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has Russian participants.
Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizov said Monday Russia would accept "about a 100 observers."