With a statement by President Medvedev on Tuesday, Russia has formally declared recognition of the secession of the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and that Russia considers them now as independent states.
No doubt, Russia's confidence has been bolstered by the United States practically acknowledging that America would not wage war with Russia over Georgia's territorial integrity, and by Europe's lackluster response to the crisis. As usual, the Europeans just sent a bunch of shocked words. At least the Americans sent humanitarian aid in military vehicles and vessels, especially with the Air Force and Navy, giving a small 'innocent' threat to Russia. The Europeans cemented their roles as the pansies of NATO.
As Georgia suggests, South Ossetian and Abkhaz independence will lead to either de jure or at least de facto annexation of the two regions by Russia. North Ossetia is already part of Russia. Most Abkhaz and South Ossetian people have Russian passports and many are Russian citizens. They would approve of Russian annexation of their 'countries.' Especially as Russia is developing faster than Georgia, in no small part due to Russia's interference in Georgia and the Caucasus.
Russia, boosted by hydrocarbon-driven economic growth feels stronger and that the country can take on NATO and the United States, the way they felt during the Cold War. Indeed, President Medvedev has stated that plummeting relations with the West could lead to another Cold War.
The thing is, a Cold War is between superpowers. Russia is no longer a superpower. The Soviet Union was replaced by the People's Republic of China for title of 'challenger to American-Western rule'.
Russia's population is in decline, and the average lifespan of a Russian is on par with that of a stagnant African country. Russia will not be a superpower soon. They have neither the wealth nor the manpower. What they do have is the nukes, but those are decaying and decrepit.
Should NATO recognize Chechen independence in retaliation? That's the thing about authoritarian countries. Sometimes they have regions that want independence. Russians have acted as though they fought on behalf of defending South Ossetian and Abkhaz self-determination, in the same fashion that much of the West supported independence for Kosovo. Now will Russia allow Chechnya to achieve sovereignty in the name of self-determination? They should, lest they be shown to be hypocrites. Meanwhile, the democratic West does not have would-be secessionist regions contained by force. Some Scottish and Flemish want independence from their home countries, but they have not decided on independence; the British and Belgians aren't preventing Scottish and Flemish independence militarily. Thus, the West can take the moral high ground in secessionist issues in a way which authoritarian countries such as Russia and China cannot.
And if Russia does legally annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia, then will the United States finally annex Canada and Mexico?
Russia needs to be sent a firm message to put the country in place, but the question is how to make such a message without ending up with a war between nuclear powers. China should be persuaded to take a stance critical of Russia. Russia has been supported by their Chinese buddy; if China is not a partner, then Russia will think twice about being aggressive.
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