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Czechia and Georgia – Spirit and Letter of Political Pragmatism

16.07.2008 17:35

"Europe with respect to Russia was always equally ignorant and ungrateful", this prosaic (or may be prophetic!) words of Alexander Pushkin illustrate reaction of Europe clamoring about our response to installation of the US ABM radar in Czechia. The radar is a component of the air defense system or US ABM defense system. We stand against its deployment because the National ABM Defense System upsets the strategic balance while the military compensating measures will be very costly to us. Moreover, the deliberate anti-Russian designation of the American ABM Defense System provokes our involvement in the arms race. The outcomes of such race are well known to us from the biography of our country. When interceptors are actually deployed in Poland and the radar installed in Czechia, we will seek compromise in "letters" of American tongue twisters about anti-terrorist partnership. The X-HOUR hasn't come yet, and we do our best to postpone it.

A Czech-American agreement on radar installation was signed in Prague on July 8. According to experts it is the radar but not ten "Polish" interceptors that causes the greatest concern of us - the radar coverage of the Russian territory is more variable than the range of the ground-based interceptors. Taking into account the relative number of Czech supporters and opponents of the American plan we may expect that the discussion of this plan in the Parliament will be hardly unambiguous. It is difficult to predict the position of Czech legislators. But next day, on July 9, the Russian oil supplies to Czechia were decreased two-fold. Instead of expected 500 thousand tons of crude oil the Czech customers will receive in July only 300 thousand tons. The formal reason has nothing to do with the politics - "technological failure". That is, you will receive the expected amount as soon as everything is sorted out. Since the pragmatism as distinct from the mischief-making implies the fairness we will surely recognize from the very beginning that the Czech side will suffer losses. Already on July 15 the petrol prices rose by 15 per cent, and local long-haul truckers started filling at gas stations in the neighbor countries.

If it is our energy cunning then what would they do if they were us? Did the economic space stop being a political competition field? No doubt that any agreement should be fulfilled. But when the spirit of the agreement changes, its letters not always remain as "distinct" as they were. Especially when the Czech Republic speaks in favor of a gas pipeline to bypass Russia, so-called Pipeline Nabucco. This pipeline not only duplicates our Black Sea pipeline South Stream but also rests on the same Central Asian resource base. So we will wait until everything is "sorted out". Moreover, their military-political reliability lags behind ours as economic partners of the West. The subject of Georgia needs even "more distinct letters" and at the same time ability to read between the lines. We do not create artificial complications in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Because reasons for them occur without us every day of (note!) intra-Georgian confrontation. Since the double mention of Georgia in the anti-separatist context would release us from accusations of provocation, let us speak about painful problems. A main obstacle to Georgian membership in the Alliance is its internal instability fraught with drawing of NATO into "unplanned" armed conflicts. In your opinion, what should Russia do - promote strengthening of the Georgian federalism? Or patiently and "meaningfully" point Tbilisi at dependence of its separatism problems on its Atlantic aspirations?

Moscow recognized that Russian aircraft flew over South Ossetia. In our opinion, otherwise it was impossible to moderate the second, Georgian, side of the conflict. In this sense we prevented exacerbation of the conflict. But rather predictable response of Tbilisi ("aggression!"," international outrage!") only made the international community to understand better that the developments are "a step away from the war". Perhaps Brussels also gave thought to it. The same logic relates to Abkhazia. If Georgian drones perform reconnaissance flights over the second side of the conflict, how should the world community determine termination of their flights ? as a step to hamper in the peacekeeping process or as implementation of our peacekeeping mandate?

The similar problem occurs with respect to the demand of Tbilisi to replace Russian peacekeepers with peacekeepers of other nations. What should be done if one of the sides of the conflict does not accept it? Moreover, appearance of any pro-Tbilisi "mediators" may entail incidents that today at the very least do not develop into a full-scale war. Does such interpretation of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian cases undermine the international law? We only separate the humanitarian and political interpretations of the satiation, let us repeat "in framework", in Georgian autonomies.

The Pushkin's assessment of the European ignorance is not less ironical than our present one. The European partners surely "are aware" of the Russian interests but they defend their own interests much more vigorously not expecting our gratitude. In this case what a sense to blame of double standards if they are not eradicable as "a difference between male and female' (Jamie Shea, NATO HQ Speaker, famous for his stand in the Kosovo operation). And as for the gratitude, it is better to have a title to it of our descendants than of our neighbors.