Excellent comment from a commenter about the recent Russia-Georgia conflict.
Russia had peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia as part of the agreement with Georgia from the 1990′s after the South Ossetian had won their de facto independence. The present government of Georgia disavowed that earlier agreement.
When the Georgians and South Ossetians got into an artillery fight, the Georgians sent in their army. As part of that attack, they targeted the Russian peacekeepers, so the Russians sent in their army to defend their peacekeepers.
The Russians advanced into Georgia for two reasons, to knock out artillery that the Georgians were using to bombard South Ossetia and to separate the South Ossetians along with their allies the Abkhazian armies which had advanced into Georgia from the Georgians. Once that was accomplished after a couple of days, the Russians retreated back to their former positions.
However, the Russians then took the step of recognizing the South Ossetia and their allies, the Abkhazians, and so now Russia has upgraded the Russian forces in these places from peacekeepers to combat troops, so they now have a couple of infantry regiments along with some artillery and AA weapons stationed there.
Sums it up quite well, I think. It is true that Russia plays geopolitics as far as secession is concerned, recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia and not their own Chechnya nor their allies’ Kosovo. But the USSR did let all of those republics go in the first place, one of the most progressive acts of recognition of self-determination that the world has ever seen.
Georgia has staked out a place since independence as hostile to Russia, for whatever reasons. For that reason, Russia supported the secessionists in Georgia. If Georgia would not have been hostile, then Russia probably would not have done that.
As someone who supports self-determination, I am happy that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are having their rights recognized. I believe that South Ossetia wants to join North Ossetia as “Ossetia” and become a part of Russia like North Ossetia is. Abkhazia, I believe, wants to become an independent country.
A commenter noted that Russia is trying to control that part of the world in order to control Europe. But the USSR controlled that part of the world for 74 years, and they never controlled Europe. I think that Russia just wants friends in that part of the world.
It is the US and some East Europeans who are treating Russia as a hostile nation, for no apparent reason, as Russia means us no harm and is not an enemy state; if fact, it wishes to be an ally. We along with our East European friends are surrounding Russia with bases and stationing defensive missiles in Poland. Both of those are hostile acts directed at Russia.
US imperialism is paranoid. It sees enemies where they do not exist and wishes to dominate as much of the globe as possible for unknown reasons, possibly as a form of modern mercantilist warfare to increase the profit share of US corporations and the wealth of America vis a vis the rest of the world. As the rest of the world is impoverished, the wealth of US imperialism is increased. US imperialism relies on the principle of vassal states of the US along with tributaries or supply lines to control the trade of the vassals and the US.
Russia does not have a hostile, beggar thy neighbor type imperialist project going on. Why this is I am not so sure, but possibly it is a residual holdover effect from the USSR. Russia seeks allies, and you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours relationships.
They have their own self-interest only in that they do not wish to be screwed by the machinations of US imperialism, which is trying to screw them out of markets and regional influence, in addition to threatening them with surrounding them with military bases and hostile states. Russia seeks co-existence, not domination.
I assume that the US’ hostility to Russia dates back to Soviet days. Even though the USSR fell and Russia entered the capitalist sphere, we still regard them as a hostile country due to the past.
But then US imperialism is very aggressive anyway. The super-imperialists around the neoconservatives, Rumsfeld and Cheney even said that Europe not an ally but a hostile competitor (“Old Europe”). They have written papers on the need to screw Europe out of various markets and whatnot. These papers treat Old Europe as an enemy region.
I suppose that an imperialist capitalist country can have no allies. The stage of US imperialism was set in the Truman Administration when George Kennan said that the US controls of 24% of the world’s economy, and it’s the duty of the security state to see that that gross maldistribution is not lessened even one percentage point.
If the world gets fairer and we don’t get such a huge slice of the pie anymore, the rest of the world gets richer and we get relatively poorer. It’s a fight over slices of pie. We get rich by keeping others poor. As others increase their share of the pie and get richer, we lose and get poorer. So US imperialism is dedicated to keeping the rest of the world poorer vis a vis the US in order to preserve our often ill-obtained wealth.