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American Style of Peacekeeping

12.05.2008 12:07

Vladimir Nesterov

The weekend in the zone of Georgian-Abkhaz conflict was relatively quiet. However, the visible quietness should not confuse anybody – Tbilisi just has taken the time-out for the presence of the US-European diplomatic assault force that landed in Georgia on May 10-12.

Prior to the arrival of the American diplomats and EU ministers the Georgian propaganda machine again issued a “funny” news – it happens that Russia is going to capture the Kodori Valley by means of the Kazak troops! But it is not a fun when similar propaganda flapdoodle was repeated by US State Department Envoy for the South Caucasus Matthew Bryza after his talks in Sukhumi. It seems that he not only expects “provocations” from Russia but even found “a party of war” in Moscow.

The American diplomat was in rush to blame on Moscow for killing the Georgian reconnaissance drone even before he knew the results of an independent expert examination.

In this connection let me slightly digress from the main topic – “the American style of peacekeeping”. Let us return to the notorious UAV allegedly shot down by a Russian MiG within the security zone in Abkhazia. As key evidence the Georgian side demonstrated to its friends (but not in the UN) a video showing a double-fin military aircraft launching a missile from its pylon to the UAV. Tbilisi claims that the UAV was attacked by Russian MiG-29 that took off from the Gudauta airdrome.

Surely, this version has a right to exist alike many others. For example, this military aircraft could just fly from the US AF Base Incirlic in Turkey, and launch a missile by a tragic mistake to the Georgian drone. We should not forget that certain NATO states have Russian fighters in their arsenals, and the US Air Force has a special squadron armed with Russian aircraft to hone skills of American pilots in the dog fight with “the potential enemy”.

You may ask: where is the good of killing the Georgian UAV for the Americans? The answer is just on the tip of tongue – nowhere. But something keeps from such answer… May be it is the notorious arms of mass destruction, which the American “experts” fail to find in Iraq until now. Or Al Qaeda with Taliban specially designed by the CIA to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan…

And one extra consideration now already basing on the Russian national wisdom – the thief is always the loudest to shout: stop thief!.. O.K, it is just emotions but not facts.

And the facts are the following – the shot-down UAV became an extra aggravator in the Georgian-Abkhaz relations and provoked radical escalation of the situation in the zone of conflict against the background of failed Georgian application to NATO and on the eve of the Georgian parliamentary election, at which M. Saakashvili has the minimum chances to win. It seems that both the internal and external policies of the ruling regime bulge at all seams. And here again the Georgian authorities as usual try to play the corny Russian card. M. Saakasvili again needs “an external enemy, aggressor, strangler of democracy” in the name of Russia to solve his own political problems.

And what’s about Moscow? The Russian side immediately claimed that “the Georgian evidence” of the MIG-29 attack on the UAV is fabricated. The RF Foreign Ministry published an opinion of Russian military experts who believe that the video was fabricated, at that it has been done so clumsily that Georgia even refrained from showing this “movie” in the United Nations. But this falsehood was enough for the propaganda salvo fires of the USA, EU and NATO…

Further information provocations of the Georgian side developed as a snowball. The game was actively supported by Brussels and Washington. As soon as Tbilisi felt the moral and information support of the West it as usual “took the bit between its teeth” and started building the strike force at the border of Abkhazia. Today nobody can answer if it is a demonstration of military force or actual preparation for war. We have to note that it is easy to start the flywheel of war but it is difficult to stop it.

What’s the price of Saakashvili’s open claims that the drones will continue to fly over the security zone despite the prohibition of any military activity in this area imposed by the UN? And what’s to be done with the threats of his closest associates to capture Abkhazia “within three hours”? Sukhumi attentively listened to these escapades and put its troops on an alert. And started shooting down the Georgian UAVs one by one.

In such situation Russia once again had to resort to unpopular measures (yet absolutely legal in terms of the international law) to cool down hot heads on both sides of the barricade. In particular it had to introduce additional peacekeepers into the zone of conflict as stipulated in the international agreements signed inter alia by Georgia.

And it started immediately… Aggression! Intervention! War!

As soon as a threat of war with Russia was mentioned by the Georgian President (earlier M. Saakashvili observed certain diplomatic tact in the bilateral relations and refrained from such statements) the Kremlin had to interfere in the squabble and name such allegations of the Georgian leader “”irresponsible”. The Russian Foreign Ministry even claimed that Russia is not going to fight against Georgia but it just fulfills its peacekeeping mandate.

It is clear that neither Washington, nor Tbilisi, nor Brussels paid attention to such arguments of Moscow. It could not be otherwise.

The point is that today only the Russian peacekeepers prevent Georgia from implementation of its intentions to capture the unrecognized republics and resolve the conflict by force. It means that the plans of Washington and Tbilisi to integrate Tbilisi into the North Atlantic Alliance as soon as possible remain in danger.

M. Saakashvili several times raised an issue of the Russian peacekeepers in his private talks with Western politicians. He begged the West for assistance in changing the format of the peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There was even a plan to discredit the Russian peacekeeping mission in Georgia, to make Russia “a party of the conflict” and on this basis to strip Russia of its status of mediator in the Georgian-Abkhaz settlement. The role of provocateur in this plan was of Georgia, and the role of defendants and arbitrators was of the USA, EU and NATO.

To all appearance, the story of the shot-down drone, arms rattling at the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and sending of raiding teams to the zone of conflict have only one goal – to provoke a response of Russia, represent it as a party of the conflict, kick it out of the game, and replace the Russian peacekeepers with peacekeepers of GUAM. EU or NATO. By the way the activities of the American mediators, Bryza, Taft, etc., only confirm this conclusion. Such strategy is historically inherent to the American diplomacy – to create a conflict and immediately propose its mediator services in its resolution. Let’s recollect Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo… In seems that “provocations of Russia”, “party of war in Moscow” and “drones shot-down by Russia” are from the same scenario.

In such situation Russia will have to face difficulties. Moscow should be ready for powerful diplomatic pressure in all formats and new provocations immediately in the zone of the peacekeeping operation. It is evident that the West will escalate its information efforts to discredit the Russian peacekeepers, and will demand at all levels their replacement in this spring or summer with “an independent police force”. Does Moscow have an adequate answer? We’ll see.