Russia: “International Guarantor” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia? (Or: What does Russia really want?)

Presidenant Dmitri Medvedev’s pronouncement today that Russia would serve as the “international guarantor” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia certainly sent shockwaves to those in the world that are afraid of the resurgent Russian bear.  This pronouncement came just in time as President Bush sent American troops to Georgia for a major “humanitarian mission.”  Given the events of the last week, coupled with these two recent events, and one might think that World War III is imminent.  Russia will storm Georgia’s capital and then the Americans will fight and then we have World War III.

The above hypothetical fact pattern has a better chance of happening in a made for t.v. movie than it does in real life.  To be sure, certainly one wouldn’t be off-base to feel uncomfortable when two military superpowers beat their chest within earshot of each other.  No one wants that.  While some news outlets like CNN and Fox News are urging the public that these recent events are a prelude to war, they are, in fact, a prelude to a diplomatic solution — one that is favorable to the Russians and, obviously, by extension, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

All of this may seem like a dangerous gamble the Russians are playing.  But, in my opinion, the dangerous gamble has to do more with their political stake in the world than it does with any military confrontation.  Given the American “advance” into Georgia, Russia has no actual plan to invade the country (notwithstanding South Ossetia and Abkhazia).  That would be suicide, not because the Russians will lose per se, but it’s not a conflict that either the Americans or Russians want.  Nonetheless, the Russians have to get close, perhaps dangerously close, for the world to believe that they are ready, willing, and able to advance to the capital, so that Russia can obtain the diplomatic solution it wants.  It sounds a bit like a crazy plan, but it’s one they inherited as opposed to one they had premeditations about.

What is that plan?  Well, the Russians and the Americans will sit down for diplomatic talks, as they are already — unofficially.  These diplomatic talks will go really nowhere.  Americans will want the Russians to leave South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Russians will not do so, because, they will say, how can they guarantee the safety of the “citizens” of those regions?  Back and forth.  Then, in short order, a European country, most likely France, will strongly suggest that UN peacekeepers come in to safeguard South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The initial ultimate goal would be for these regions to become UN protectorates. 

What Russia wants is similar to a Kosovo situation.  You may ask yourself that Russia didn’t do so well with Kosovo, as Russia and Serbia lost Kosovo to, well, Kosovo.  But this situation is much different and, at least in the short term, puts Russia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia in the driver’s seat — all of which was prompted by the politically unguided yet principled decision by Georgia’s president to “take back” South Ossetia.  When the UN comes in, as it eventually will after some tense diplomatic moments, the region will have legally protected autonomy that it didn’t have under Georgian rule.

And, in the end, this is exactly what Russia wants.

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South Ossetia: Saakashvili’s Gamble and his failure to learn from Kosovo

If you were to watch American media, then you would think that Russia, on its own accord and without any provocation, has grandoise plans to invade Georgia and then work its way West towards Europe before landing on the shores of New York, all in its quest to take over the world.  Of course, things are never as simple as they seem, but the American media’s attempt to portray the situation in South Ossetia as mere Russian aggression — some perverted attempt at a domino theory — patently ignores the political realities on the ground.

I am not going to get into a protracted description of the history behind South Ossetia.  I’ll leave that for later posts or, if you’re impatient, you can simply do a search on google and get your share of information about South Ossetia.  But for the sake of this post, some facts to keep in mind that aren’t so apparent if you were to watch CNN or read the New York Times or watch Good Morning America for your news:  South Ossetia is part of Georgia yet, like Kosovo is/was to Serbia, demands its independence from Georgia.  South Ossetia has wanted its independence from Georgia for many years.  In fact, South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s.  South Ossetia also is aligned with Russia and, not surprisingly, Russia supports South Ossetia’s independence — both implicitly with financing and military support and explicitly with political speeches and state sponsored news articles.  Despite the fact that the majority of the international community does not recognize South Ossetia as an independent country, but rather a part of Georgia, the international community also acknowledges that the region is a disputed area. 

What does this mean in plain english?  It means that the question of who rightfully “owns” South Ossetia — Georgia or South Ossetia — is not in any way, shape, or form, cut or dry.  That is the precarious balance South Ossetia has been in for many years.

President Saakashvilli of Georgia, like many of Georgia’s leaders, made a campaign pledge to “reunite” South Ossetia with Georgia.  Rhetoric is one thing.  That’s what politics is all about.  Beat your chest.  Pound your fist on the table.  But transforming rhetoric to practice is an entirely different thing.   And, on August 8, 2008, when Georgia “went into” South Ossetia to “take it back,” it failed to consider the political reality, none of which, fortunately or unfortunately, had to do with the concept of its own territorial integrity.

For one, as noted, the disputed area of South Ossetia is not some fly-by-night movement conceived by some nutcase two months ago after a long night at the bar.   Even before the claim for independence in the 1990s, South Ossetia was an autonomous oblast of the former Soviet Union . . . in 1922.  The history goes even father back when one talks about Ossetians generally.  The bottom line is that there’s history — real history — behind this region.  And, for the other, South Ossetia is a disputed area, even though the majority of the international community concedes that South Ossetia is part of Georgia.  The previous statement may seem like a contradiction, but what this really underscores is the situation in South Ossetia is a political one.  That is the reality.  Take it or leave it.

Now, put these two things together and ask yourself:  what the hell was President Saakashvilli thinking?  To be sure, he certainly had the principle behind his actions, i.e., that South Ossetia is part of Georgia, and South Ossetia’s continued attempts to cede, even with the implicit or explicit help of the Russians, should be met with force, as the action was a threat to its territorial integrity.  But political diplomacy, whether one likes it or not, is more than just principle.  The other equally compelling question that President Saakashvilli failed to ask, or perhaps failed to ponder more, was whether there was political will to support the action his army took.  President Saakashvilli took a jump off the diving board hoping someone would follow.  No one did in the way he wanted.  Perhaps it was a miscommunication, overconfidence, or simply incompetence.  Whatever the explanation, he’s in the water by himself, with the U.S., NATO, and the EU, at most, shouting words of encouragement from a distance not close at all to his proverbial pool.

For Russia’s part, its response was predictable.  In fact, the Russian response to the Georgian “incursion” into South Ossetia had less to do with wanting to protect its oil pipeline than it had to do with its support for South Ossetia’s independence.  If anything, it’s now more clear than ever that the implicit support Russia could neither fully confirm nor deny regarding South Ossetia is now just plain explicit.  But if the Georgians had to bring their army into South Ossetia to figure that Russia’s support for South Ossetia was truly explicit, then either Saakashvili is thickheaded or just failing to see reality.  Georgia’s actions gave Russia a blank check to do what it wanted.  Russia had 1001 perfectly valid reasons to respond.  To protect the peacekeepers.  To protect civilians.  To protect the status quo.  To protect.  To protect.  To protect. 

The status quo is what President Saakashvilli grossly misjudged.  The status quo are the “grays” in an ideal world of black and white.  The “grays” are the nuances when “black” and “white” solutions can’t be agreed upon.  Countries keep the status quo until it becomes so thoroughly unworkable that the status quo has to change.  Saakashvilli thought that South Ossetia’s current situation — the status quo — was simply at a breaking point.  Maybe in his mind it was.  Maybe in the political landscape of rhetoric it was.  But the breaking point in the political landscape, particularly when it relates to countries with objectively meritorious claims for independence (even if misguided), has a much, much higher breaking point.  I know supporters of Georgia may not want to hear this, but South Ossetia was anything but at a breaking point.  This was not a Kosovo.  The reality from the beginning was that Saakashvilli was going at this alone. 

In the end, what did Saakashvilli achieve?  Everything that Saakashvilli did not want:  an independent South Ossetia.  Georgia’s actions only went to push the political reality of the South Ossetia status quo much, much closer to an actual decision one way or the other:  independence or no independence.  And while we all wait for that answer, which may take many, many years, South Ossetia will become more of an autonomous province than it has since it declared independence in the early 1990s.  If the Georgians think its grip on South Ossetia was tenuous, then look at it now. 

If you want a real world example of a similar situation, you only have to look so far as North Mitrovica in Kosovo to see what will happen and what is happening to South Ossetia.

President Bush Authorizes Supplying “Kosovo” With Weapons (Or: Cold War? Too Early To Tell)

The “big” news yesterday was President George W. Bush authorized a supply of weapons to Kosovo.  Almost like clockwork, Serbianna.com and others began characterizing the U.S. supply of weapons to Kosovo as either a) a provactive escalation of a proxy arms race between the U.S. and Russia, leading to “one-upmanship” which leads to Cold War,missiles.jpg b) an arming of jihadist terrorists making up the “narco-state” of Kosovo, a country which is the root of all drug trafficking, organized crime, and human trafficking on the planet, bent on destroying everything Christian and Jewish or c) a combination of both.  As with most things, I think we have to look past the headlines and the knee-jerk reaction conclusion and to assess the facts as they truly exist.

You may be wondering why I used quotes for “Kosovo” in the headline.  Well, if you just read the headlines, one may think that the weapons are going to the Kosovo government or the Kosovo military (or, if you Serbianna is on your “favorites” list, then to jihadist terrorists/criminals).  But there is no Kosovo military.  Of course, there is KFOR, which is a multi-national military force that protects Kosovo under the NATO Umbrella.  KFOR has the sole responsibility for the protection of Kosovo. 

To be sure, as some may point out, there is a 5000 strong Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK).  What do they do?  They do what most protection corps do in other parts of the world:  provide disaster response, humanitarian assistance, etc.  More importantly, what do they not do?  They have absolutely no authorized role, under either UN Security Council Resolution 1244 or the Ahtisaari Plan, in either Kosovo’s defense, law enforcement, riot control, internal security or any other law and order task.  Kosovo will have, under the Ahtisaari Plan, a lightly-armed NATO supervised/controlled security force.  And, finally, under UN SCR 1244 and Ahtisaari Plan, there is the Kosovo Police Service, which is about a 7,000 member strong police force, which critically is subordinate to the UNMIK Police.  

Under the circumstances, while it appears that the weapons are going to “Kosovo,” they are really going to the international forces which ultimately have supreme control and power over Kosovo despite its declaration of independence on February 17, 2008.  In two words, this legal mumbo jumbo is called: “supervised independence”.  So, when you read Serbianna, please do not get the mistaken impression that nuclear weapons or stinger missiles are going to be handed out free to anyone in front of the Grand Hotel in Pristina at 12:30 p.m. this Friday.

But there are several questions that we still need answers to.  For instance, how many weapons are being sent to Kosovo and what kind of weapons are being sent?  Is it just “light weapons” like firearms or is it “heavy weapons,” such as missiles?  What measures are in place to ensure that the weapons do not get in the wrong hands?  Regardless of the answer, it would be interesting to see which defense firm or firms are getting this “Kosovo” contract — either because the defense firms could disperse these weapons at a loss and thus receive major tax benefits or disperse the weapons at an overinflated price to either conceal total losses or rake in major profit.  Indeed, that is a different inquiry altogether. 

Further, one must ask why President George W. Bush remained rather opaque in his statement about the weapons delivery.  Sure, his advisers or the State Department will likely cite security concerns, but the President could have certainly said a little more than: “I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to Kosovo will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.”  What the hell kind of statement is that?  It sounds like a draft of a washing machine contract or a manifesto for the imaginary Country Island of Galacktigar that President Bush was too lazy to transform into a readable speech.  Perhaps he spent so much time on his “War Speech” yesterday that he forgot about this one. 

President Bush left too many questions that will undoubtedly leave those like Russia and Serbia vexed.  Of course, regardless of whether these two countries will always be vexed at the hip by U.S. policy, President Bush could have added more facts or assurances (hah, yes, these are different) about the nature of the weapons, who they were going to, and that the U.S. was not intending to start a proxy arms race.  But by leaving these issues completely unaddressed, countries like Russia and Serbia are certainly justified to think the worst.

As history has taught us, Cold Wars can start on faulty assumptions and quickly cascade into an arms race.  The idiot from NSA who probably drafted President Bush’s “speech,” should spend a little more time crafting better words for the President instead of trying to find justifications for the Iraq War.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon: The UN Top Dog Shows Off Some Of His Ban-Chusa Chops (Or The Art of “The Bureaucratic Lingo”)

For most who have either met Ban Ki-Moon or who have seen him speak probably would not characterize him as a “vibrant,” “charismatic” or “over the top” individual.   As the U.N.’s top dog in charge, Ban Ki-Moon displays a detached, almost robotic, “yes sir may I have another” attitude.  This is not completely surprising, as Ban Ki-Moon was known by his former buddies at the Korean Foreign Miniban-ki-moon.jpgstry as “Ban-Chusa,” which literally means The Bureaucrat. 

You know you’re in government too long when you pick up a name like that.  It wasn’t The Dull Bureaucrat or The Horribly Uncharismatic Bureaucrat or even The Dry As All Hell Bureaucrat.  Just plain old, The Bureaucrat. When you pick up a name like that — and it sticks to you for years in different agencies — it’s either time to change jobs or become the Secretary General of the biggest bureaucracy of them all — the one and only United Nations.  I guess Ban Ki-Moon chose the latter. 

But don’t get me wrong. You don’t become the Secretary General by accident.  Ban Ki-Moon is certainly no exception to that rule.  He knows the art of ‘The Bureaucratic Lingo’ that lesser bureaucrats only dream of mastering.  In the meantime, these lesser bureaucrats answer questions directly. Can you believe that? How stupid can these lesser bureaucrats be? 

As the Ban-Chusa knows, the first rule of ‘The Bureaucratic Lingo’ is never under any circumstances answer a question directly, particularly if it’s a loaded question or one that will force you to make a conclusion. Remember, on the first day of Bureaucrat class, you are told that the only conclusion you should ever reach is to never reach a conclusion. Conclusions are what other people have. Bureaucrats can’t be seen to either have an opinion or a conclusion, unless it is commonly accepted by 99% Americans, 82% of Russians, and 36% of those from Saudi Arabia.  Otherwise, a bureaucrat is either being foolish or rash.  Don’t beleive me?  Ask the Ban-Chusa.

The second related rule is to do the first rule without being called out until you are at least five miles from the interview site.  At least then you have plausible deniability. Remember, being the Master Bureaucrat requires subtlety. You can’t buy or walk your way into the Bureaucratic clean up spot.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of practice to think inside the box and to say yes all the time.  Some say you either have it or you don’t. Ban Ki-Moon, the Ban-Chusa, The Bureaucrat, well, he was born with it. 

The Ban-Chusa knows instinctively you have to speak with a monotone and disinterested enough voice for an interviewer not to realize that what you are doing is the product of years upon years of practice. For Top Bureaucrats like the Ban-Chusa, he has mastered the very pinnacle of Bureaucratic Communication that only the chosen few have: ‘The Bureaucratic Lingo.”

In a recent interview with Interfax, Ban Ki-Moon worked circles around the interviewer without anyone realizing that what he was doing was Working Circles.  In response to a question of whether the European Union will replace the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, he deftly dodged the question with something approaching pure bureaucratic poetry:  proclaim established facts and undeniable truths as new, improved, and original ideas. “Wow, mind-blowing,” the interviewer must have said to himself after the interview. “No wonder he’s the Secretary General. The Ban-Chusa believes in Truth and Democracy and Law and That People Shouldn’t Be Murdered Needlessly.  Dammit!  I wish I could come up with those ideas on the spot like that!” 

In response to a question of whether Kosovo’s declaration of independence will cause a wildfire of separatist states, Ban Ki-Moon employed one of the hardest pieces of Bureaucratic Lingo to master:  the changing of the question in your head and then answering that question out loud without referencing the original question by the interviewer. The interviewer just thinks you’re answering a better question.

Beautiful work, Ban-Chusa.  You are The Bureaucrat.

Your position on Kosovo has not always been in agreement with the attitude of Russian diplomacy. Why do you think that is? Do you see any future for the UN in Kosovo, or will the European Union soon take up exclusive responsibility there?

Security Council resolution 1244 remains in effect. Pending guidance from the Security Council, UNMIK therefore continues to consider resolution 1244 as the legal framework for its mandate and implement it in light of the evolving circumstances. My overeaching objectives continue to be to ensure the safety and security of the population in Kosovo, with particular attention to the minority communities, to uphold international peace and security and the overall stability in Kosovo and the region, to ensure the safety of UN staff, and to safeguard the UN’s achievements and legacy in Kosovo and the Balkans.

Russia and a number of other countries have warned that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence might trigger a “parade of sovereignties.” In paraticular, prospects for independence are being openly discussed now in Palestine, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Intentions to secede from Kosovo are being publicly stated in Mitrovica. Do you see such a threat? Is international recognition of the above-mentioned self-proclaimed entities possible?

I wouldn’t want to speculate about what may or may not happen throughout the world as a result of developments in Kosovo. Each situation needs to be examined based on its unique circumstances. Without commenting on Kosovo’s independence itself, I wish to note that Kosovo is a highly distinctive situation by the virtue of the fact of the international community’s intervention in the exercise of Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo since 1999. I wish to also remind you that recognition of countries is a matter for individual Member States – not the Secretary-General or the United Nations Secretariat.

This interview can be found here.

Russia and Serbia To Kosovo: We must break you!

In the last few days, both the Serbian and Russian government have seemingly taken a page out of the playbook of Ivan Drago.  Its message to Kosovo pretty much amounts to this:  We must break you!  ivan-drago.jpgThat’s too bad, because both Russia and Serbia’s statements, as well as their lack of statements, have revealed that history has not changed much.  Serbia is still enslaved by ethnic nationalism.  Russia is still motivated to make its presence felt on the international scene at any cost.  Put these two together, and you have a potent recipe for disaster.

For example, just recently, Russian’s top envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned the world that Moscow might have to use “brute military force” to maintain respect for the world scene.  Awesome.  Is that Russia’s way of not provoking tension and instability in the region?  Is that Russia’s way of not trying to intimidate other countries into silence?  Interesting display of diplomatic finesse, Russia. But, Russia assures, they are not planning any action for military confrontation.  So, if you’re not planning any military confrontation, why are you making both veiled and explicit threats of using force?  

The same goes for Serbia.  If Serbia is so against the “isolated” violent acts that are occurring in Serbia and in the northern part of Kosovo, then why is it explicitly inflaming the population with ethnic rhetoric?  There’s a severe disconnect between word and action. Under the circumstances, both Russia and Serbia’s attempt to minimize their inflammatory and irresponsible remarks fall flat.  It’s a bit like America saying they don’t torture, but in the same breath, claim they waterboard only once in a while.  

Are Russia and Serbia really kidding anybody? A country cannot simultaneously call for calm and peace when it actively calls for violence and instability.  When government officials in high positions act and speak like thugs, is there any surprise that certain segments of the population act like thugs, too?  “Isolated” acts of violence?  Isolated only in geographical location, but not for lack of trying. Russia and Serbia need to do a much better job in calming its population and reducing tension in the region.  

As I have said before, both Russia and Serbia certainly have their right to fight diplomatically against Kosovo’s independence.  But they need to do so responsibly.  Neither of them have done that.

Vladimir Putin has issued a sharp warning to the West about the consequences of recognising Kosovo’s independence, saying the decision would “come back to knock them on the head”. The comments, made during an informal meeting of leaders from ex-Soviet republics, were the strongest by the Russian leader since last Sunday, when Kosovo made its declaration of independence from Serbia.

They followed statements made earlier by Russia’s envoy to Nato, who warned the alliance against overstepping its mandate in Kosovo and said Moscow might be forced to use “brute military force” to maintain respect on the world scene. President Putin used the meeting of presidents from the Commonwealth of Independent States – a loose, Russian-dominated organisation of former Soviet states – to harshly lambast Western nations that have recognised Kosovo’s independence. Among them are the US, Britain, Germany and France. Those who have recognised Kosovo “are miscalculating what they are doing. In the end, this is a stick with two ends and that other end will come back to knock them on the head some day”, he said.

Moscow has heatedly protested the Kosovo declaration, which has sparked violent protests in Serbia and international disagreement over whether to recognise the fledgling nation. Earlier, Russia’s Nato ambassador, Dmitry Rogozin, said the Russian military might also get involved if all European Union nations recognised Kosovo’s independence without United Nations agreement and if Nato oversteps its authority in Kosovo. He couched his threat, however, assuring that Russia was not currently making plans for a military confrontation. Mr Rogozin’s comments sparked quick reaction from the US State Department, which urged Russia to repudiate them. The US ambassador to Nato said Washington was “very disappointed” by Russia’s hostility over Kosovo and Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s third-ranking official, called Rogozin’s statement “highly irresponsible”.

Quoted article was published by the Associated Press and can be found here.

Russia to Kosovo: No U.N. For You!

Russia, in a return to true iron fist form, not only used its veto power to thwart Kosovo independence through the Security Council, but promised to do all it can to shut Kosovo out of all international groups, such as the United Nations.  Put another way, Russia said to Kosovo, “No U.N. for you!” http://domn.sopca.com/files/No_Soup_For_You.png When the foam from the mouth of Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin cleared, Boris Tadic took his turn at the podium at the U.N., vowing that Serbia will never ever ever ever recognize Kosovo’s independence.

A lot of table thumping.  A lot of beating chests.  A lot of fighting words.  But this was certainly no Adlai Stevenson moment.  It was something a lot more anti-climactic. 

To put it simply, it was just noise.  Or more precisely, it was just a competition between Russia and Serbia of who could become the most irrelevant in the future status of Kosovo.  I think Russia won that battle.  Serbia is not too far behind. 

Those thoughts, too, must have passed through Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hasim Thaci’s mind when he was at the U.N. podium.  With both a smile and a tempered tone, Thaci was not baited by either Tadic or the earlier statement by Churkin.  He had the confidence of someone who has all the right chess pieces in place and, like a professor to a student, knew that the tirades came from those whose King was in a near mate position.

After all, Kosovo has the backing of both the European Union and the U.S.  Thaci knew he had two Queens on his board to Russia and Serbia’s zero queens.  To Thaci, he needs neither Russia nor Serbia in his pocket for Kosovo to gain independence.  Surely, no matter what Kosovo did, Russia and Seriba would never be on Kosovo’s side . . . so why bother?  Why continue negotiating?  Enough is enough. 

If you could visualize it, that was the expression on Thaci’s face. 

Russia, which has used its UN Security Council veto powers to stall Kosovo independence, promised to go one step further. If the rebel province declares independence from Serbia, Russia will see to it that the country is shut out of international groups.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Kosovo “would not become members of the United Nations, they would not become members of international political institutions if they go down the road of unilateral declarations.”

Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed those sentiments the same day in a speech to the UN Security Council vowing that his country would never recognize the country’s sovereignty. Talks between Serbian and Kosovar leaders held in 2006 and 2007 failed to bring the hostile sides any closer to a mutually acceptable outcome of the province. The US and Britain reaffirmed their support for Kosovo’s independence at a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday. The meeting replayed a December debate about Kosovo’s future.

The UN and NATO have administered the province since 1999.
Russian and Serbian threats have failed to dissuade Kosovo from pushing for independence. The newly-elected government has indicated the country will declare independence after the first round of elections in Serbia’s presidential race on Jan. 20.

“I am sure that the decision will be taken very soon,” Kosovo’s newly elected Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in addressing the UN body Wednesday.  Kosovo is counting on backing from the US and Europe, which have both said they would support a plan for European Union-supervised independence.

Any resolution on Kosovo’s status requires both Belgrade and Pristina’s support, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by the Kremlin as saying on Thursday.  “Our position is extremely clear. Any resolution on Kosovo should be approved by both sides,” Putin said. “It is also clear that any resolution on Kosovo will set a precedent in international practice.”  (This article was published by DW-World.De and can be found here,

Russia’s NATO Ambassador — Dmitry Rogozin — to Kosovo: Pay, You Terrorists!

Russia’s newly appointed ambassador/attack dog to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, demanded a special UN conference when Kosovo declares independence.  The purpose of this conference would be dedicated to “setting up of rules in cases where secessionist movements” seek independence. 

Viewed in the light most favorable to Rogozin, his concern for the “setting up of rules” is surely a laudable and apolitical one, right? http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://pics.prime-tass.ru/Portrety/Rogozin01_5.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.prime-tass.com/news/show.asp%3Ftopicid%3D0%26id%3D432016&h=140&w=150&sz=8&hl=en&start=18&um=1&tbnid=MWplc0xzZuV_jM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=96&prev=/images%3Fq%3Ddmitry%2Brogozin%26gbv%3D2%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DNWell, even the best intentions are marred by reality, and in this case, it is Russia’s vitriol for everything and everyone that does not go their way.  When you hear what Rogozin says, you wonder whether he took a page out of PM Vojislav Kostunica’s Book of Things To Say That Make You Look Like a Xenophobic Neanderthal or vice versa.

To be fair, Rogozin starts out pretty tame when he says the first principle he would “suggest” in the rules on “secessionist movements” is anyone seeking secession has no right to use violence.  Okay, I think we’re all on the same page there.  Then, the attack dog comes out — as we all expected. 

Rogozin states that those who already resorted to violence, “such as [Kosovar] Albanians, with the blessing of their Western backers,” must first reconstruct everything they destroyed.  The Kosovar Albanian “secessionists,” according to Javnosti, must also pay full compensation to the Serbian victims for declaring independence.

Interesting.  I wonder if those rules Rogozin “suggests” would apply to Russia in its backing of Transnistria’s bid for universally recognized independence.  Or do Rogozin’s suggestions only apply to non-Muslim, Russian-supported “secessionist movements”? 

Rogozin then goes on to suggest that even if Belgrade did not oppose Kosovo’s independence, the EU would have to take into consideration that Kosovo is a “laboratory of drugs,” and that by preventing power to go into the “hands of terrorists and criminals,” the EU would be “defending its own standards and civilization values.”

Of course, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?  What planet is Dmitry Rogozin from?  Oh, that’s right:  Russia.

Russian’s newly appointed ambassador to NATO [Dmitry Rogozin] explained that the gathering would be dedicated to the protection of international law and setting up of rules in cases where secessionist movements seek independence.  In an interview with the Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti, he told Serbia that it “has to remain resolute and principled as far as the Kosovo issue is concerned.”  According to Rogozin, the first and principal rule for anyone seeking secession ought to be that they have no right to use violence. Then, the Russian diplomat said, those who have already resorted to violence, “such as [Kosovo] Albanians, with the blessing of their Western backers,” must first reconstruct everything they destroyed.

The rules Russia would propose to such a conference would also state that a secessionist movement that has incurred damages to the state where they live must pay full compensation to its victims, the Russian NATO ambassador explained.  “And a very important rule would be that there must not be any foreign military bases in the territories seeking secession. With foreign bases present, only a protectorate and an imitation of independence can actually be obtained.”

Asked whether a Russian demand to organize such a conference “would suffice”, he answered by expressing hope that it would, particularly, as he put it, if Serbia continued to be decisive, tough and principled in refusing to accept Kosovo’s possible declaration of independence.   However, Rogozin said, he “fears that Serbia was still somewhat divided concerning that issue.”  Serbia may be heading for a change of the regime, the Russian diplomat said, and if this happens, “the ones to be held responsible for this will be Americans and those Western European countries which, in cooperation with them, are strangling Serbia.”

According to Rogozin, even if Belgrade did not oppose Kosovo’s secession, the European Union “would have to take into consideration the fact that tiny Kosovo is a laboratory of drugs, and that by defending Kosovo Serbs and preventing the authorities in Priština to be transferred into the hands of terrorists and criminals, it would be defending its own standards and civilization values.” (This article was published by B92 and can be found here.)