Litmus test for Russia's friends

The armed conflict in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia has reaffirmed that Russia’s only true allies are its army and navy. Rich nations almost unanimously condemned Moscow’s behavior in South Ossetia. Yet, in the chorus of condemnation some voices were heard in Russia’s defense.

EU and NATO nations denounced Moscow with the exception of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Turkey, which came out in Russia’s support. In Slovakia, accusations against Georgia were voiced by Prime Minister Robert Fico and deputy parliament speaker Anna Belousova, who branded Georgia’s military campaign in South Ossetia as "genocide" and accused Washington of "inadequate behavior." This opinion was also shared by Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Miroslav Vlcek, speaker of the lower chamber of parliament.

"In recent months, Slovak and Czech leaders have demonstrated real understanding and adequate assessment of what is going on in the world. As you remember, Slovakia has not recognized Kosovo’s independence. The Czech President did the same, and the national government could hardly agree on the matter," said Gostimir Popovic, a political analyst in Belgrade.

Turkey reacted in the same way, with President Abdullah Gul calling his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to express support for Moscow’s line. Ankara backed Russia not only in word but also in deed, not allowing US warships to pass to Georgia through the Turkish-controlled Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez called Saakashvili "an American toady" and defended Moscow’s approach as legitimate. Some Middle East nations issued similar statements of support. Belarus and Serbia, which until recently were seen among Moscow’s few allies in Europe, did not back Russia’s forceful response to Georgia’s aggression.

"Moscow must thank the nations that supported us. For the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the most appropriate reward would be discounts on electricity supplies, for Iran – a guarantee to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant, and for Venezuela, favorable terms of weapons sales. As for Turkey, it is in a difficult situation, and gratitude ideas need more consideration," reckons Sergei Pereslegin, an expert with the Modeling the Future research group.

At the same time, there is no need to punish the Washington’s vassals who condemned Russia’s operation against Georgia. "If you want to punish the lord, you will not whip his servant. Sanctions against Ukraine or the Baltic states will be of no use, it is the mastermind of the conflict, the United States, that deserves punishment. I think the optimal response would be to denounce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pass nuclear technologies to Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and other interested nations. If Americans want a war, let their heads ache, too," Pereslegin concluded.

[Source: RosBusinessConsulting, Analytical department of RIA RosBusinessConsulting, Moscow, 19Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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