By Paul Goble
One of the hallmarks of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive policies is that when he makes dramatic moves against one neighboring country as now against Ukraine and Belarus, he also is moving against others as well. But these are often ignored because of the drama elsewhere.
Now that the Kremlin dictator is engaged in what appears to be an increasingly broad military invasion of Ukraine, the same thing is happening: he is moving elsewhere as well and his other moves are largely being neglected, something that gives him a completely undeserved opportunity to make gains few are working to oppose.
Three days ago, with little notice yet in the West, 53 political movements in the Republic of Georgia a public appeal to Putin to help them overturn the current pro-Western and anti-Russian policies of Tbilisi and ensure that Georgia can be a neutral country with close ties to Russia (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1360813664364021&id=100013062005932).
“We are convinced supporters of the construction of a new system of international security based on justice and the mutual support of the interests of the sides” and that a major basis for such a system is the full “military neutrality” of countries “like Georgia and Ukraine,” the hitherto marginal groups in Georgia say.
“With regret,” they add, “we must acknowledge that Georgia is not a free country, as shown by the public declarations of senior officials that ‘the position of the US is homework for the powers of Georgia.’ It is obvious that they, despite the interests of the country, regularly offer their own territory for NATO exercises which is nothing other than a direct challenge to Russia.”
“Understanding that conflict with Russia is fatal for Georgia, we, 53 political and social organizations, have united into a United Patriotic Front and publicly signed a declaration about complete military neutrality of Georgia and demand from the authorities of Georgia that they make corresponding changes in the Georgian constitution.”
And “recognizing that Georgia without cooperation with Russia cannot cope with regional or even mor with global challenges, we strive for close cooperation with Russia and would like to meet with the leadership of the State Duma and Federation Council in order to make a small but significant contribution to the formation of an effective system of regional security.”
Some commentators and analysts in the West can be counted on to claim that such developments simply reflect the efforts of people in Georgia to cope with what the latter see as the new geopolitical situation Russia is seeking to create with its military aggression in Ukraine. And there may be some truth in that.
But the appearance of such groups and such appeals are more than that and more dangerous because it reflects Moscow’s efforts to reverse the results of 1991 that brought so many independence and freedom. These nations and the nations within the Russian Federation still ruled by Moscow deserve more than that from us.
They deserve our support; and to begin within, they merit our attention, something that sadly at present they are not getting as much as they should. As a result, Putin may get a broader albeit temporary victory; and both these nations and the West will have to begin again from a position less advantageous to them and us.