Wednesday, August 10, 2022

For Russia’s Neighbors, August Not April has Long Been the Cruelest Month

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – No month of the year is without horrific anniversaries for those fated to live near or within the current borders of the Russian Federation, but August is an especially cruel one. As already noted, this month is the eighth anniversary of the shooting down of the Malaysian jetliner; but it is also the 14th of Russia’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia.

            That campaign, generally recognized as the first war in Europe in the 21st century, remains important in its own right and as a demonstration of the readiness of some in Moscow to engage in similar actions on the basis of false analogies -- and the failure of many in the West to connect the dots, instead treating each conflict as it if had little to do with any other.

            That is a serious lapse in judgment because it means that the West has failed to take in the bigger picture, learning from what Russia has done up to now but also failing to see the trajectory of Russian aggression that gives every sign of continuing unless and until it is finally defeated. 

            What is especially concerning is that Russian leaders, albeit in Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, routinely and explicitly connect the dots between what Moscow did in Georgia in August 2008 and what it has been doing in Ukraine first in 2014 and now in August 2022.

               Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and the great hope of many in the West and now the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, says that Russia’s actions in these years and these places are all connected, a legitimate response in his view to Western aggression against Russia ( and
tagainst Russia” using Russia’s neighbors against it despite Russia’s warnings that Moscow would respond forcefully to any such attempts. Despite these warnings and despite Russia’s actions in 2008, the West is doing the same thing again. 
        Like so much coming out of Moscow these days, this contains a dollop of truth – Russia did warn that it would so something if the West provided support and encouragement to Georgia and Ukraine –contained in a mountain of lies. It was Russia which attacked  both countries, killing civilians and engaging in a variety of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
               Tragically, there have been some in the West who have been willing to swallow and even defend this outrageous rewriting of history, constantly trying to present Russia in the best possible light and to blame the victims, first Georgia and now Ukraine, in order to be able to cooperate with the stronger but aggressive power.
               Just as there is a long history of such arguments coming from Russia, so too there is a long history of this Western response to dictators in other countries and even in Russia, although that response was limited by an overarching anti-communism during the cold war. Now, that constraint is gone.
               In this month of sad anniversaries, it is important to remember and oppose both of these trends because if that does not happen, there will be many more unhappy Augusts in the future of Eurasia.  

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