West would like Russia close eyes on genocide of Ossetians

In 1999 western countries bombed former Yugoslavia to stop what they said was genocide of Kosovar Albanians and to oust President Slobodan Milosevic. Russia was angered, but did not interfere.

In 2008 Russia interfered to stop the Georgian bloodbath in breakaway Tskhinval and the genocide of South Ossetians, most of who are Russian citizens. Russian resolute retaliation to Georgian aggression triggered sharp criticism in the West showing it would prefer Moscow to be angered, but refrain from intervening, like it did in 1999.

Many Russian publications recall the 1999 events in former Yugoslavia. "US and NATO air force bombed the Serbian soil day and night – military units, towns, bridges, humanitarian convoys and even the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Now we have South Ossetia. In less than in a day Georgian troops razed to the ground Tskhinval and surrounding villages by point blank fire from dominating heights."

Carpet bombing from Georgian salvo fire systems Grad, heavy artillery, tanks and aircraft destroyed Tskhinval completely and killed 1400 civilian Ossetians in one day. The threat of humanitarian catastrophe emerged. Russia could not but interfere.

Political scientist Sergei Mikheyev said "the decision to send troops to Tskhinval definitely has its minuses. One of them is that there will be much ballyhoo in the West about alleged Russian aggressiveness. But the decision to let South Ossetia down would have shown that one can deal with Russia from the positions of force."

"We showed it is impossible to treat Russia in such a way," he said.

Russian military action in Georgia may spoil relations with the West, but Russian non-interference would have definitely triggered mistrust and indignation of its own population, specifically the Ossetians living in North Ossetia.

In Russia nobody doubts that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili would never dare attack South Ossetia without western connivance. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is convinced the aggression was okayed by the United States, which heavily armed Georgia and trained its military.

"I am convinced it would not have happened without the consent of the United States. It has approved it," he told Tass.

He called Georgian actions "barbarian" and proving Tbilisi cared only for the breakaway territory, while Ossetian residents could be either killed or ousted to Russia.

"Retaliation was inevitable. We had to send reinforcements to free the city," Gorbachev said and criticized western reaction to pose Russia as aggressor.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was as straightforward as always. He described western reaction as "cynical".

"The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing – they attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to portray victims of the aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims," he said.

Putin was specifically angered by the US decision to airlift 2,000 Georgian troops from Iraq to the conflict zone. "It is a shame that some of our partners are not helping us, but, essentially, hindering us," he said.

Despite Russian objections, the United States and the West have been arming Georgia for long. Moscow warned that may fan up "frozen" conflicts in the Caucasus. So it happened. But when Russia retaliated for Georgian genocide of Ossetians, the West joined in chorus to blame Russia for disproportional use of force and threatened relations would deteriorate.

Russia responded it will also build its relations with western countries depending on their reaction to Georgian developments.

"As if by command, some countries began to criticize Russia and impede the operation to compel (Georgia) to peace by doubting the methods, aims and pace. Moscow will take that into account in future talks on the world order," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.

Putin made it clear to the West it would not succeed in pushing Russia out of the Caucasus no matter how heavily it arms Georgia and other countries in the region.

"Russia has for centuries played a very positive and stabilizing role in the Caucasus, it was the guarantor of security, cooperation and progress in the region. It did it in the past and will do it in future. May nobody doubt it," he said.

The prime minister said the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia was "a lethal blow at (Georgian) territorial integrity", which many in the West interpreted as a signal for the annexation of South Ossetia, although Russia always insisted it had no plans to split Georgia.

However, a question arises. Will the Ossetians ever forgive the Georgians for the genocide? Did Kosovar Albanians forgive the Serbs?

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 11ago08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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