Russia Holds the Cards, West Folding in Foreign Policy Game

Russia Holds the Cards, West Folding in Foreign Policy Game

I volki syty i ovtsy tsely. "The wolves are full and the sheep are still alive." That Russian version of "having one's cake and eating it too" describes the current state of Russian foreign affairs in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In the few past weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only intensified Russia's policy regarding Georgia, but convinced the United Nations Security Council, led by the United States, to pass a resolution that gives Russia unprecedented clout in the sovereign territory of its struggling southern neighbor.

Russia introduced the resolution, which passed on Oct. 16, as part of a continued response to what Russian officials have described as "Georgian provocations." The first "provocation" happened at the end of September when Georgia arrested four GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) officers and accused them of espionage. Russia's response came quickly: It closed its embassy in Tbilisi; it temporarily stopped its scheduled military withdrawal from Georgian bases; and it threatened to use its military. It did not take long for Georgia to give in to Russian demands and Tbilisi return the accused officers to Moscow. Russia, however, refused to accept that move as a finale to the situation and, instead, it intensified matters by imposing blanket sanctions on Georgia.

Meanwhile, the international community stood back. The United States, for example, a country that has supported Georgia since the Rose Revolution in 2003, said nothing. The European Union also maintained a silent front, although some countries, mainly the EU's Central and Eastern European and Nordic countries, began to talk of drafting a resolution to condemn Russia's actions.

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