Via Truthout, here is some interesting and important background on the Russian-Georgian conflict that is going on right now, because as usual, these things do not just happen out of the blue despite the dazed and confused coverage in the mainstream media:
- When he was president, Clinton promised Yeltsin that NATO would not expand into former Soviet republics.
- In 2004, seven countries joined NATO, some of them right on Russia’s borders
- At the same time, three other nations, including Georgia, took steps towards becoming members
- Pro-western governments took over in Georgia and the Ukraine (not without US support either)
- The US Army rented military bases in Central Asia once built for the Soviet Army
- Bush signed missle defense agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic
- Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and was immediately recognized by the US, followed by France, Germany, the UK, Japan and 40 other countries.
- Russia offered aid and arms to any other regions that wanted to secede and be friendly to them
- The Kremlin made good on its promise with Abkhazia and South Ossetia
- Last April, NATO agreed to postpone the adhesion of Georgia and Ukraine indefinitely
- NATO then decided to reconsider that issue in December, upsetting the Russians again
- Russia embargoed agricultual and energy exports to Georgia and granted Russian citizenship to South Ossetians
This set the stage for what has now flared up into the worst East-West post cold war conflict to date.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about significance of this, in terms of nuclear warfare in Russia? Do we have anything to fear along those lines?
COL. SAM GARDINER: Absolutely. Let me just say that if you were to rate how serious the strategic situations have been in the past few years, this would be above Iraq, this would be above Afghanistan, and this would be above Iran.
On little notice to Americans, the Russians learned at the end of the first Gulf War that they couldn’t–they didn’t think they could deal with the United States, given the value and the quality of American precision conventional weapons. The Russians put into their doctrine a statement, and have broadcast it very loudly, that if the United States were to use precision conventional weapons against Russian troops, the Russians would be forced to respond with tactical nuclear weapons. They continue to state this. They practice this in their exercise. They’ve even had exercises that very closely paralleled what went on in Ossetia, where there was an independence movement, they intervene conventionally to put down the independence movement, the United States and NATO responds with conventional air strikes, they then respond with tactical nuclear weapons.
So yet again, with so much on the line, the world is at the mercy of the incompetent and undiplomatic shenanigans of the Bush administration. Not encouraging developments.