The Economist on the Georgia Conflict

The Economist has some interesting thoughts on the recently-ended Georgia conflict.

The magazine asserts that it was ultimately a victory for Russia that has left the West with few options and has embarassed the “impetuous” Sakaashvili and scared other nations in the caucasus trying to ally with the west.

However, according to the magazine, the West is not without options:

That does not mean the West should do nothing in response to Russia’s aggression against Georgia. On the contrary, it still has influence over the Russians, who remain surprisingly sensitive about their international image. That is why Western leaders must make quite clear their outrage over the invasion and continued bombing of Georgia. Few have done that so far; the Italians and Germans in particular have been shamefully silent.

Above all, the West must make plain to Mr Putin that Russia’s invasion of Georgia means an end to business as usual, even if it continues to work with him on issues such as Iran. America has already cancelled some military exercises with Russia. America and the Europeans should ensure that Russia is not let into more international clubs, such as the Paris-based OECD or the World Trade Organisation. Now would also be an appropriate time to strengthen the rich-country G7, which excludes Russia, at the expense of the G8, which includes it.

The European Union, which has too often split into camps of appeasers and tough-talkers over Russia, should drop negotiations on a new partnership and co-operation agreement. Visa restrictions should be tightened, and the personal finances abroad of top Russian officials probed more carefully. The EU should work harder at reducing its dependence on Russian energy imports and improving internal energy connections—and EU countries should stop striking bilateral deals with Russia.

Furthermore, the magazine advocates a continued push to allow nations in Russia’s near abroad into NATO. Very bold indeed…

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