CIS and Baltic press on Russia

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ESTONIA

Some local media believe that the European Union needs to revise its relations with Russia, while NATO does not provide sufficient protection from Moscow's aggressive policies.

"Russia should get the message that aggression in any form against any country cannot remain without consequences. The EU, too, should respond strongly and in unity. Estonia thinks it irrelevant, given the present situation, to make further progress in the visa dialogue because it would be a direct bonus for Russia.

"The EU should consider broader implications of Russia's aggression for EU-Russia relations, especially the effect of Russia's statement about protecting the interests of its citizens living in Georgia." (SL Ohtuleht, August 28)

"In spite of everything, the European Union is still unwilling to disrupt relations with Russia or impose strong sanctions." (Postimaes, September 2)

"Russia is still invading South Ossetia and Abkhazia, territories belonging to Georgia, and even some other areas beyond the two breakaway republics. Russian forces still keep their strategic positions in the region, convenient for new attacks... One shouldn't delude oneself that the [NATO] fleet which has entered the Black Sea can really hold it back. If East European states' security systems grew stronger now, if they went so far as to form a mini-NATO or a Baltic union, it would be an effective alternative to existing alliances." (Essti Paevaleht, September 2)

Mass media call for a resolute resistance to Moscow's propaganda.

"We [in Estonia] need to do what Georgia has done already: to shut down Russian TV and radio channels, newspapers and online media. It could be easily accomplished, technically. It became clear after the Georgian war that Russia poses a real and direct threat to its neighbors' security. It is dangerous for Estonia's safety and self-preservation to remain as helpless in the face of Russian propaganda as we are now." (SL Ohtuleht, August 30)

LATVIA

Local journalists are worried about imminent implications of sanctions against Russia.

"The EU and NATO member countries need to think twice how to act now that Russia is trying to boost its clout not by oil and gas manipulation but by military aggression. For all their harsh rhetoric, they haven't made a single effective move yet. Russia is well aware of the European nations' controversial attitudes and is taking advantage of it in a most cynical way. Latvia should thoroughly weigh every possible means of economic pressure on Russia." (Neatcariga Rita Avise, August 28)

"The EU should be ready to impose effective sanctions which won't have the effect of mosquito bites on a demented bear." (Diena, August 30)

Some commentators warn that anti-Russian rhetoric may harm Latvia's business interests.

"Our country's new attempt to condemn Russia's aggression and imperial ambitions may cost us rather dearly. Someone will have to bear the responsibility for these statements. Politicians are unlikely to take the heat, but local businesses will be the hardest hit." (Vesti Segodnya, August 27)

LITHUANIA

Local papers are making dismal predictions of Moscow's impending revenge on countries which have supported Georgia.

"Western Europe is holding its breath in anticipation of next Monday, when Russia might cut oil supplies. For Lithuania, gas is much more important, because its shortage will quickly bring the country to its knees. That is the price Lithuania may have to pay for supporting Georgia. By defending Georgia, Lithuania brought Russia's wrath upon itself, and has already sensed some economic pressure, which may further grow."

"It is obvious from history that Russia sticks to no rules or business logic or contracts. Its policy is to resolve conflicts by force or pressure involving oil and gas supplies. Russia has cut off Ukraine's gas on several occasions, and did the same to Georgia, Belarus and other countries until their governments gave up and agreed to whatever the Kremlin wanted them to do." (Vilnius Diena, August 30)

"The Baltic nations and Ukraine, who spoke out against Russia's actions in Georgia, are going to catch it now. Moscow has already reduced cargo traffic through those countries' ports." (Respublica, August 28)

BELARUS

According to a number of opposition publications, the confrontation between Russia and Georgia reveals the crisis of the CIS and other projects aimed to unite the former Soviet republics. "The Russian-Georgian war is testimony to quite an obvious fact that the positive potential of the post-Soviet buffer zones is close to exhaustion. Actually wars between states belonging to the same international organization occur rarely. As a matter of fact it means that such structures are unable to "buffer" anything. Another symptom, which is also quite evident, is the endless trade wars Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan (members of the Common Economic Space and EurAsEC) are involved in, in whatever combinations." (Nashe Mneniye, Our Opinion, August 28)

Many columnists are sure that the Kremlin-controlled Russian media have already started preparing their audience for another "peace enforcement operation".

"The countries of the CIS, which is dying away, were thrown 20 years back. The worst thing is that Russia, rising from its knees, is unlikely to confine itself to Georgia's dismemberment in its imperial revanchist bid. Judging by the escalation of great-power hysteria, which is stoked by the Russian mass media, they are preparing Russians for something far more serious. One can presume for what exactly. For example, Izvestia "drops a hint" that in April, 2009 the ten-year Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship and cooperation, which guarantees Ukraine's territorial integrity, expires." (Telegraf, Telegraph, September 1)

It is emphasized that Minsk's dependence on Moscow for raw materials leaves the Belarusian leader a minimum of space for maneuver. "Despite Surikov's clear message, Lukashenko decided to hide behind the collective opinion of the CSTO members, which roused the Kremlin's fury, rather than mere anger... Lukashenko won't get away with it - he'll have to articulate his stance. He'll have to personally participate in the further breaking up of the Soviet Union. But after some time he'll have to admit everything they want him to admit. After all, during his meeting with Medvedev he called Russia's actions in South Ossetia 'beautiful'! He couldn't have used a sillier word. But the 'beauty' of cheap oil and gas is a dramatic power." (Belorussky Partizan, Belarusian Partisan, August 31)

UKRAINE

Experts fear that Ukraine is unprotected against Moscow's policy, which appears independent from international institutions and is getting even more aggressive.

"Russia openly jeered at the United Nations, showing that it is not going to consult with anyone. Even the U.S.S.R. didn't dare behave this way. The EU won't impose any sanctions on Russia. After Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia it turned out that Ukraine's eastern neighbor overrides both the UN and international law. There are no guarantees of Ukraine's territorial integrity. When we gave our nuclear weapons away in 1994, the members of the nuclear club guaranteed Ukraine's security. As one of the guarantors attempted to grab Tuzla, the other countries kept silent, making believe these were only Russia and Ukraine's problems." (Gazeta Po-Kiyevski, Newspaper Kiev, August 30)

Experts predict a considerable deterioration of the economic relations between Russia and Ukraine, linking it to the U.S. reluctance to support Russia's WTO ambitions. "For Ukraine, the intractability of its northern strategic neighbor could cause big problems. In mid-August Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's agricultural watchdog, imposed a ban on the imports of Ukrainian dried milk and halved the number of Ukrainian cheese exporters. Having joined the WTO, Russia would have had to cancel these discriminatory measures against Ukrainian exporters. Now it can even toughen them. Under the new circumstances, Ukraine is deprived of the opportunity to seek tariff concessions during the negotiations about mutual access to the commodities and services market. Russia accounts for over a fourth of Ukraine's exports." (Krymskaya Pravda, Crimean Truth, August 28)

MOLDOVA

Several political analysts think Russia has saved South Ossetians from a total annihilation. "Violating all moral and legal norms, in the early hours of August 8 Saakashvili's regime unleashed a real massacre against the people of Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers. But for the Russian army's prompt intervention, in a few days there would have been no Ossetians left in South Ossetia. They would have been killed, or, at best, would have fled from their ancestors' land." (Ava.md, August 30)

In the opinion of the media, both Russia's aggressive actions in South Ossetia and the Kremlin's intensifying efforts to resolve the Transdnestr conflict are the result of a desire to stop NATO's eastward expansion and restore Moscow's influence in the post-Soviet space. "Obviously, it's not by chance that Moscow's more evident diplomatic effort in the Transdnestr direction coincides with its aggressive effort in the Caucasian direction. Like the aggression against Georgia, Russia's Transdnestr effort is part and parcel of the campaign to avert NATO's expansion to the East and restore the Russian Federation's sphere of influence within the former Soviet Union." (Journal de Chisinau, September 2)

ARMENIA

After Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, experts and politicians have been actively discussing the possibilities of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"If Russia asks Armenia to recognize the independence of the south Caucasian territories, Yerevan could ask for Russia's recognition of Nagorny Karabakh as a pre-condition." "Armenia should not be in a hurry to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as it is difficult to forecast what position Russia will take on Nagorny Karabakh." (Respublika Armenia, August 28)

"Armenia has to thoroughly consider whether it is worth turning the breakaway territory of Nagorny Karabakh into Russia's outpost." (Lragir.am, September 1)

GEORGIA

Political writers are full of hatred towards Russia. "The big-headed midget tribe, with their naked white torsos, madly rotating eyes and stentorian commanding voices, has taken the Russian throne and are running the show. They are vying with each other to boast about their clownish victories, spilling real blood instead of cranberry juice. At their Dresden residences and law departments, they were taught only to tell lies, steal and kill... Back in the day, they were dreaming of the moment when they would cast their shadow over the globe, drawing the direction of the 'key stroke' with their dirty-nailed fingers. They blew the initial stoke over free Georgia out of hatred and fear of the free world." "Putin's ruling elite, woozy with gas and oil, have decided they are allowed to do everything. The clowns dressed in expensive suits began to retrieve the major geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century forgetting we are living in the 21st." (Georgia Online, August 29).

"Russia aims to break Georgia apart and take away its sovereignty, some analysts say. For a long time, Russia proposed no plan for settling the conflict, and this reveals the country's urgent desire to aggravate conflicts and, theoretically, to invade Georgia and bring it back into the Russian Empire." (Georgia Online, August 31)

AZERBAIJAN

Russian President's decree on the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia reinforces the outcome of the country's aggression against Georgia. "This step by Russian authorities is a climax of a long-cherished plan to annex part of the republics which for a long time have refused to obey Russia's dictate, choosing independence and integration into the global democratic community. Russia's attempt to annex the Georgian territory are making the former's participation in the peacemaking process over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict impossible." (Zerkalo, August 28)

"By choosing to take the responsibility for settling the Abkhazian-South Ossetian conflict out of the four frozen conflicts on the CIS territory, Russia is bidding the other two, namely the Transdnestria and Nagorny Karabakh. Now Moscow will wait and see what Baku and Chisinau have to offer in exchange for these territories." (Kaspy, August 28)

"To eliminate the threat for Azerbaijan and Ukraine emanating from Russia, it is necessary for the United States to urgently take certain commitments to ensure these countries' security." (Zerkalo, September 2)

KAZAKHSTAN

Local analysts describe the developments in the South Caucasus as Kremlin's violation of its international commitments and proof of its revenge seeking aspirations.

"The Moscow rulers have apparently decided the time is right to show their new face to the world, their view of the lineup of forces, and their belief in the viability of the rules of the not-so-recent Soviet past. Nobody should be deceived or scared by the stony face of the Kremlin ruler, which is only camouflage for internal uncertainty and the weakness of the ideas he claims to represent." (Zona KZ, August 28)

The media write that Kazakhstan is much more interested in the Georgia's present leadership regime than can be gleaned from official statements, which call for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Kazakhstan's national oil and gas company, KazMunaiGaz, which bought Tbilisigaz during a tough confrontation between Moscow and Tbilisi in winter 2006, provided a 'safety net for the Saakashvili government. Kazakhstan is proud that one of its leading banks, TuranAlem, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the tourist infrastructure on Georgia's Black Sea coast. Three of the four loaves of bread eaten in Georgia at the time when its army was shelling peaceful Tskhinval were made of Kazakh flour.

"Moscow must demand official explanations why Astana supplied Georgia with the Shturm-B antitank guided missile systems for helicopters and assault planes from its Soviet-era stock. How would you describe a man who signed mutually binding agreements with Russia, including military ones, yet supplied deadly weapons to Georgia? Wasn't President Nazarbayev directly involved in giving Saakashvili a legal status in the CIS?

"While feigning support for Russia, he is actually working against the Kremlin policy. Nazarbayev wants not so much to put Russia and China against each other, as to turn Kazakhstan into a 'Central Asian Georgia' and Washington's unsinkable aircraft carrier in the heart of Eurasia." (Zona KZ, August 28)

KYRGYZSTAN

Pro-government publications carry politicians' critical statements regarding Russia's policy in the CIS. "The CIS needs radical change. The U.S. views it as a thorn in its side, and will act accordingly. Georgia's withdrawal [from the CIS] is only the beginning; Ukraine and Moldova could be next. Russia must first of all change its attitude to the CIS, otherwise the organization will fall apart and die. Russia should focus on strengthening economic ties among the CIS countries, which means it needs to develop a new strategy." (Agym, August 22)

Analysts write with regret about the absence of an active response to developments in South Ossetia from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's heads of state at their summit in Dushanbe.

"Why did they watch silently while Russia was fighting singlehanded against the massive Western pressure? The presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan should have expressed their opinion of the South Ossetian problem clearly and unambiguously at the SCO summit." (Alibi, August 29)

"The more time passed since the beginning of the inhuman Georgian aggression against peaceful Tskhinval, the clearer it became that Kyrgyzstan's uncertain, and even dual, position regarding Russia's peacekeeping efforts was deeply wrong. How did we act at the SCO summit? It was nothing more than words, as usual. Russia has dared to tell the truth about the United States' double standards, according to which the U.S. may do what others may not. Russia has demonstrated not only its intentions (words), but also its capability. Kyrgyzstan is again sitting on the fence. Today, after the tragedy in South Ossetia and recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence, the Russian political leaders will know who to deal with and who doesn't deserve the honor." (Bely Parus, September 2)

TURKMENISTAN

An opposition newspaper published the address of the Turkmen Communist Party, which contains a highly negative assessment of the Georgian president's policy and sharp criticism of the "pathologically ambitious" Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. It also describes the idea of territorial integrity, which encouraged Saakashvili to kill South Ossetians, as questionable.

"The military conflict, which opportunist Saakashvili initiated, has resulted not only in death and destruction, but has also caused serious moral damage to Ossetians and Georgians. While Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus have been sending relief aid to South Ossetia, Berdymukhammedov has dispatched 20 tons of humanitarian aid to the U.S. colonial administration in Afghanistan but nothing to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. This is his way of expressing solidarity with the United States; he has taken the side of the country that provoked the massacre of peaceful civilians in Tskhinvali. The questionable goal of restoring territorial integrity is not worth thousands of innocent lives." (Turkmenskaya Iskra, August 20)

RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.

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