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Russia not happy with being seen as occupier

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 8
The US Secretary of State’s insistent repetition of the word "occupation" to describe the Russian forces stationed on Georgian territory met an immediate reaction from Moscow. PM Putin, who masterminded and executed the August 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, said that the terms occupier and occupation are not correct, as that Russia is not to be blamed for anything that happened two years ago and that Georgia should conduct direct dialogue with the Tskhinvali and Sokhumi regimes. The Kremlin thus wants to achieve their partial recognition by Tbilisi. By washing its hands of its responsibilities Moscow is trying to ensure the acceptance of its own rules of the game but nevertheless still wants the world to trust it.

The phrase 'disproportional force' was often used or implied in the international community's comments about Russia during and after the August war. The implication of it was that Russia was entitled to use some force during the conflict, despite it being on Georgian territory with not a shot fired in Russia, but instead exceeded its authority, making its behaviour illegal. This assumption suited Moscow. For years Moscow had been disguising its aggressive plans in this region and trying to prepare the public and politicians to accept any action it took. It pretended to be an armed peacekeeper in the conflicts in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region rather than an interested party which had created and aggravated this conflict in the first place. It promoted itself as the protector of small nations, claiming that Georgia committed 'genocide' in South Ossetia whilst the reality was quite the contrary. Not only was there no genocide, as thankfully not many people died during the fighting, but some who were killed must have died as a result of Russian forces attacking their villages and Tskhinvali itself. As for Russia's allegations of human rights violations it has been proven by Georgia, and acknowledged by the international community, that an ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population took place in both Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region.

Little Georgia has tried its best to call what happened by its real name, occupation, but the international community and even Georgia’s friends have only been prepared to refer to them as the 08-08-08 events or war. However recently US officials have openly used the word occupation, in its military meaning, when commenting on Georgia to the international community and President Medvedev himself. This terminology is presumably designed to place extra judicial responsibilities on The Kremlin, and particularly counter its attempts to lift responsibility from its shoulders. This is why Putin’s reaction to the term was arrogant, cynical and aggressive. "Russia had nothing to do with this, the responsibility should be put on those who started it, Georgia has problems with Abkhazians and Ossetians," – he came out with all the usual stuff. Some think the South Ossetia is occupied, others think it is liberated, Putin said, without giving concrete examples of who else other than his puppets holds the latter view.

Putin is playing with words, he is being dishonest. He knows very well that the puppets in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali will not dare move a finger or utter a word without Moscow telling them to. By telling Georgia to undertake direct dialogue with the separatist regimes Putin is actually telling it to talk to Russia through Moscow-appointed mediators, and everyone knows this, most of all those mediators themselves.

Once again Moscow feels it needs to tell the world that it is not conquering other countries' territories. It wants the world to believe, naively, that all the nations which today form the Russian Federation voluntarily joined it, or the old Russian Empire or Soviet Union previously. However it looks as if the world has started to understand and correctly characterise what Russia is really up to. It is unlikely that The Kremlin will be able to present itself as a liberator for much longer, as it is an occupier and everyone has started to realise this.