Russia slams Israeli bombing of Syria as Violation of UN Charter

The USG Open Source Center translates the statement at the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sharply condemning Israel:

Text of “Russian Foreign Ministry statement in connection to reports about air strikes by the Israeli Air Force on targets on Syrian territory” published on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on 31 January

“Moscow is gravely concerned by reports about Israeli Air Force strikes on Syrian facilities close to Damascus. If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes at targets on the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, whatever motives are used to justify it.

We are taking emergency measures to clarify all details of this situation.

We once again call for stopping all violence in Syria, not allowing any sort of foreign interference and starting an all-Syrian dialogue on the basis of the Geneva accords from 30 June 2012.

(Dated) 31 January 2013″

(Description of Source: Moscow Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Russian — Official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry; URL: http://www.mid.ru)”

There were conflicting reports of what exactly the Israeli Air Force bombed in Syria. The Baath government said it was. military research center, while the Beirut press insisted it was an arms convoy transferring SA 17 missile launchers for Syrian ally Hizbullah.

If it was the convoy with the SA 17s, the regime may have been transferring them to Hizbullah for fear they might fall into rebel hands. The rebels have been taking military bases and looting them for weaponry. The regime’s advantage has been its planes, helicopter gunships and tanks, and the SA 17s would be a powerful equalizer. So much better to put them in Tyre. Moreover, once there, Hizbullah could use them to protect Syria from Israeli aircraft flying in over Lebanese territory. In that case, their destruction by Israel was a risk worth taking. The regime did not lose that much by their destruction, and they are still denied to the rebels.

Russia’s angry reaction probably has less to do with Israel itself (with which the Putin government is friendly) than with a fear that Israel might set a precedent for military intervention in Syria. After all, Turkey has as much reason to bomb the place as Israel does, having taken lost a plane to a Syrian missile and having taken artillery fire from the Syrian side. And, France has been taking a harder stance in favor of some sort of intervention.

So the last thing the Putin government wants is for Israel to start a trend.

The brutally frank language toward Israel is also consistent with Putin’s recent instructions to the Foreign Ministry to toughen up its rhetoric and to emphasize hard power to repel threats from the “ring of enemies” around Russia. (“Putin Call for Tougher Foreign Policy Seen Aimed Primarily at Domestic Audience,” Gazeta.ru, Jan. 29, 2013, via USG Open Source Center). Russia feels that NATO has illegitimately made incursions into eastern Europe (and the US is putting missiles in the Czech Republic), and resents that Turkey is in NATO and Afghanistan is in the US sphere of influence. This fear of encirclement is part of the reason for Moscow’s support for the Baath in Syria.

Gen. Makhmout Garayev, president of the Academy of Military Sciences, likewise sees the world as hostile. In an article in Voyenno-Promyshlennyy Kuryer Online on Jan. 29, 2013, He wrote:

“The loss and infringement on national sovereignty will become a general tendency in the development of the majority of countries. The “democracy” which is being coercively sown throughout the world is taking on monstrous forms. The harsh violence with Qaddafi is explained not just by the shortcomings of democracies or the presence of cheap oil, but above all by his plans for the creation of a union of African states, the nationalization of natural resources, and the introduction of an African currency. Next in line are Syria and Iran.”

and:

“Political goals in the modern world are achieved in two ways. First, by disruptive actions, “the color revolutions” within opposing countries, and large-scale information actions. Second, by way of the unleashing of local wars and conflicts, as was done against Yugoslavia, Iraqi, South Ossetia and Afghanistan, and as is being attempted now in Syria and Iran. In order to secure itself from this, Russia must be powerful above all in the economic and technical senses.”

So to defend Russia from the ring of enemies, and to avoid its subjection to an alliance of the US and China, the general argues, Russia must be strong. Strength implies saving Syria from its color revolution, and hence protecting it from foreign attack or occupation.

In short, Russia sees an attack on Syria as an attack on itself.

The problem is that Russia isn’t ringed by enemies, Syria is not having a foreign-instigated revolution but an indigenous one, the Us does not covet Russia’s natural gas, and there is no Washington-Beijing axis against Moscow. Russia doesn’t need to make a stand in Syria to protect Russia.

(Since some people aren’t good at geography, I include a map showing that Russia is surrounded by China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine (now rejected by NATO), Belarus and Finland– not exactly the most threatening configuration and it is certainly not ringed by enemies!)

41 Responses

  1. Sovereignty of nations along with hard headed thinking is flat lethal to trying to stop Earth from terminal CH4 led Runaway.
    That Mr Putin should recognize because he is smart politician.
    War and politics are on the same field playing and game is on.
    The only thing is it is easier to destroy than to build and people are emotion driven for the large part and easily led.
    There is a showdown most evident on line; a crash of opinions.
    But the physical properties of heat trapping gasses don’t lie.
    Earth’s climatic stability and atmospheric content of gasses is in dire danger of crossing a final tipping point if it hasn’t already done so. Cumulatively speaking Earth is sunk..

  2. I disagree that SA-17s are “shoulder he,[l]d missile launchers” as you describe. Instead the SA-17 is “essentially a tracked chassis that carries a radar and a launcher with four missiles.”

    Perhaps you are confusing the system with the SA-7 MANPADS that are the Russian equivalent of the US Stinger anti-aircraft missile and were/are known to be moving about in Libya and Syria.

    In light of the substantial weapons system that the SA-17 is, it is probably correct to assert that these would be a “game changer.”

    link to armyrecognition.com

  3. What the Israelis have done is an international war crime, effectively launching an unprovoked war of aggression.

    I’m surprised you can so convincingly articulate Russia’s concern about the erosion of sovereignty, and then with a single sweept of your arm, wipe all the pieces from the table.

    What the Americans and Israelis are doing is gradually pushing us into a third world war, much as Germany slowly pushed us into a second. Humanity’s fatuity and hubris couldn’t be imagined if it didn’t exist.

    • Tell us why this sortie was “legal, ” willya, fellas? So it’s just as just as droning and “preventive wars of choice? ”

      Sarajevo, how we love ya, how we love ya…

      Here we go agaaiin…

      Stupid effing humans. There’s reason why we need to worry about self-extinction…

  4. “Syria is not having a foreign-instigated revolution but an indigenous one”

    It may have started out as an indigenous revolution, by now it has turned into a civil war with one of the sides heavily armed and funded by foreign states and non-state jihadist groups. A few weeks ago the Jabhat al-Nusra entered Kurdish territory (under control of Kurdish militias who are trying to stay neutral in the conflict) from Turkey with 3 tanks as reported by AFP. There are reports that those tanks were not even tanks captured from the regime, but Turkish tanks. Either way, the Turks are difinitely involved in this up to their necks, as are the Saudis and Qataris.

    • It started as a peaceful internal protest. The regime drew up tanks and fired on the protesters, radicalizing them and militarizing the conflict. Russia and Iran resupplied the regime with ammunition and heavy weaponry. Qatar sent in light weaponry to the rebels. That you managed to turn this around into a foreign-inspired civil war is a tribute to your pretzel-like logic.

      • What heavy weapons did Russia and Iran supply that the Syrian military didn’t already have, Juan?

        Tanks and APCs? They already had those Russian types in stock. The Iranians didn’t give them any.

        Attack aircraft? They already had these Russian types in stock, with a possible small delivery taking place that had been pre-planned and expected before the current crisis took place. Iran hasn’t given them any attack aircraft.

        Again, what heavy weapon types are you referring to?

      • I never said it was a foreign-inspired war, that’s been your words from the start. Do you have any actual proof that Russia and Iran have resupplied the regime at all, let alone with heavy weaponry? Or is proof only needed when the Russians are making claims?

    • It may have started out as an indigenous revolution, by now it has turned into a civil war with one of the sides heavily armed and funded by foreign states and non-state jihadist groups.

      You are referring, of course, to the Russian armaments being sent to the fascist government, and their support by Hezbollah, right?

      There are reports that those tanks were not even tanks captured from the regime, but Turkish tanks.

      Oh, “there are reports,” are there?

      • Here is footage of “FSA Thugs attack Kurds with Tank.” See how the barrel of the main gun has a thicker “sleeve” at the end? And see the dish-looking thing just behind and above the main gun, with the rounded back?

        link to youtube.com

        That is a Soviet-built tank, probably a T-55:

        link to imageocd.com

        The American-built tanks the Turkish army uses, like M-60 and the Abrams, do not have that “sleeve” located at the end of the gun, but in the middle:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        That is a Soviet-built tank shelling those Kurds, which means it came from the Syrian government, not the Turks.

      • Yes, there are reports. There is pretty good coverage of the fact that the Jabhat al-Nusra drove those tanks into Syria from Turkey, wherever they got them. As far as I know that is a lot more than there is for any alleged Russian arms deliveries.
        Anyway, I am not denying that the regime is hotrible. It’s just insane that people actually think the likes of the Jabhat al-Nusra are the good guys in this slaughter. There are no good guys here and the chance of sectarian slaughter is pretty massive. The Turks, the Saudis and the Qataris need to back the hell out of this at least as much as the Russians.

        • I imagine you have just as much evidence for your claim “people actually think the likes of the Jabhat al-Nusra are the good guys” than you do for the claim that those are Turkish tanks.

          Here’s a story about the U.S. State Department putting the Front on the list of international terrorist organizations.

          link to cnn.com

          Who are these “people” who consider them the good guys? Do they drive Soviet-built tanks for the Turkish army?

  5. It is impossible to believe that any of the middle eastern revolutions have no foreign element to them; the US is simply too active, too vested, and too capable in that region to think there isn’t – and the same to a much lesser degree could be said of any number of Islamic extremist organizations.

    As for the attack itself Israel demonstrates again why they are the UN’s most-sanctioned country – and why they could be one of the most dangerous. It was sheer folly for them to risk a much broader conflict, not to mention their continuing disregard for the sovereignty of their neighbors, to destroy what are basically short-range defensive weapons.

    • the attack itself Israel demonstrates again … sheer folly for them to risk a much broader conflict, not to mention their continuing disregard for the sovereignty of their neighbors …

      I agree, and I am surprised that these Israeli bombing raids are not more controversial.

    • “nice that russia is standing up to israel, not many examples of that in the world.”

      Your comment naively suggests that Russia is “standing up” to Israel out of some sort of principled position. To read it, one would never know that Russian opposition to the Israeli attack is due to Russia’s national interest invested in Syria, from the sale of Russian arms to the Russian naval base at Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Standing up to Israel indeed!

  6. Actually Russia is surrounded by NATO, you’re being a bit glib. Do you have any problems with israel bombing sovereign nations, Mr. Cole?

    • Oh Al, with all due respect, give us a break, will you? There’s no NATO encirclement of Russia. Rather, Putin’s Russia is showing many of the paranoid – and rather nasty – traits of its Soviet predecessors. Despite the relentless evidence of one atrocity followed by the next, Moscow’s support of Assad remains unstinting. Everyone can make their own call but I describe it as cynical and disgusting. If the Israelis or any other actor can further help destabilize the regime in Damascus, I say more power to them.

      • Yeah, look at a map. China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and Finland account for most of Russia’s borders. Few countries have such a favorable position with regard to border states (the US does, too). To look out on that and feel surrounded and besieged takes a warped paranoia.

    • If I were a patriotic Russian leader or soldier, I would be quite incensed at the state of the world from my perspective. Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, Russia has been truncated geographically and militarily, hollowed economically, and sees its former satellites becoming American proxies now and American military bases surrounding what’s left of Russian territory. American bases in central Asia! Never in the bad old Communist days would the Soviets tolerated this level of threat. I don’t know why the West doesn’t expect a potentially vicious reaction by the Russians at some point, after decades of humiliations and sabotage, and they may not find many allies left when they look abroad.

      • what’s left of Russian territory.

        So the Stans, the Baltic Republics, and the other former Soviet Republicans were “Russian territory?”

        Oh, boo hoo, Russia doesn’t dominate its “near abroad” anymore. Truly, one of the great tragedies of history.

        American bases in central Asia! Never in the bad old Communist days would the Soviets tolerated this level of threat. Yes, the Soviets never would have allowed central Asian governments to decide for themselves whether or not to host American bases. It’s rather indecent of you to consider the growing independents of Russia’s former colonial subjects to be a cause for mourning.

    • Actually Russia is surrounded by NATO, you’re being a bit glib.

      With the exception of its north, east, and south, Russia is completely surrounded by NATO.

      I hope that’s not too glib.

  7. In the news stories about the alleged weapons convoy, the arms in question are said/speculated to be SA-17s. Yet the SA-17 is not a shoulder-held weapon, as Juan writes, but a battery-launched weapon. (Wikipedia, etc.). The SA-7 is the shoulder-held version. To me this raises different questions about the purpose of the convoy/move, if in fact the convoy existed in the first place.

  8. 1) FYI, Prof Cole: either your keyboard is sticking or your Dragon has indigestion….

    2) As for the various reactions: people and countries and countries do what they want to do, unless there is something objectively that limits them. Full Stop.

    The finery of diplomatic talk, or when folks in the military speak of being Officers & Gentleman, is putting lipstick on this pig. There are times when a country like the US can act more with the ostensible benevolence of a policeman, or engage in humanitarian acts after a tsunami, but this all about coercion and countries having their way, with or without the gloves.

    WHY Israel did this is the question, along with what it portends. I rather think they are sending a message to everybody, in a way that is crude and could blow back on them: Assad would love it if he could pull Syria together against a common foe.

    Aside from any legitimate tactical imperatives, Israel’s motivation may well have been to put Iran on notice not to try to take advantage of the Syrian chaos, as well as to demonstrate to the US they intend to take the US up on the assurances Netanyahu rather pointedly extracted from Obama back in March. He seemed to want to confirm in front of the cameras during the following press conference that (to paraphrase only slightly) “Israel is a sovereign country and its prerogatives are totally its own.” It’s all part of maintaining a foundation of believability in its being willing and able to do whatever it takes…..and to-hell with whatever others may think.

    • “Israel’s motivation may well have been to put Iran on notice not to try to take advantage of the Syrian chaos.”

      I fail to see your logic in assuming there is some advantage that could accrue to Iran as a result of Syrian chaos. Iran’s interests lie in the opposite direction, in a stable Syria under their ally Assad.

    • “The Kremlin can keep changing the flag every few decades, but Russian foreign policy will always be Russian foreign policy.”

      Spot on observation, Joe. It has been thus since the early 19th century, from the time of the Czars, through the Soviet era, and continues today. Russian foreign policy has been remarkably consistent throughout. The Soviet period simply added an ideological component to it.

      • Thanks, Bill, but it’s hardly my observation. Hans Morganthau was trying to get the communism-obsessed Cold War U.S. political class to understand this back in the late 40s. It’s too bad it didn’t work.

        “We’re going to support the international socialist revolution, comrades…starting in those countries that just happen to lie between Germany and Russia. Workers of the world unite!”

  9. In 1981, The United Nations condemned Israel over its bombing of a nuclear reactor facility near Baghdad, Iraq.

    Even though this clearly violated international law, Israel shrugged it off and there was no accountability.

    The Israel Foreign Ministry has made statements announcing support for the rebels in Syria. It is not unprecedented for Israel to support even Islamic rebels against Russian interests. It did so when Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan – it supplied armamnets and training to his militiamen.

    Russia stands to lose influence if Assad is deposed – including its naval installation in Syria. It is wholly understandable for Russia to issue such a pronoucement.

    • Mark, I agree completely. I wonder what you think of my comment below (as of 2:47 awaiting moderation) where I detail the major events in Russia’s contest with Western powers (first Britain and then the United States) over central Eurasia.

      Nick Dahlheim

      • Firstly, I do not believe that Western powers abandoned Russia following the Nazi invasion of Poland -Britain and Canada immediately declared war on Germany in 1939. America set up a supply line to the Soviets via Murmansk – Stalin was a fan of Spam and Solzhenitsyn ate American-supplied pork stew while in his foxhole as a Red Army officer.

        However, in my opinion, the Soviets did, despite some U.S. intelligence analysts’ contention to the contrary, attempt to encircle via its military and intelligence agencies the Middle East centers of oil production via its conduct during the 1970s thru 1980s. This would include direct involvement in the Yom Kippur war as well internal conflicts within Ethiopia and Yemen, and supplying Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq with billions of dollars worth of armaments. The Soviet bloc also maintained a very tight relationship with the P.L.O. via the Romanian government.

        Russia’s leadership has always maintained a degree of paranoia, however, that the West was going to eventually invade them. The history of Russia is being subject to invasions and heavy civilian and military casualties by Western powers. America sent an expeditionary force into Russia folowing WWI to aid the anti-Bolshevik forces.

        After the cessation of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991, the Russians ceased being a world empire and turned to cooperation with the West economically under Yeltsin and later under Putin. This created a political vacuum in the Middle East in which resulted in conflict between the Western powers and an emergent militant Islamic fundamentalism of various shades flourishing in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen amongst other places. The Baathist totalitarian states of the Arab world are currently in a stage of collapse. NATO members offer secular democracy and armed sectarian Muslim factions seek Islamic forms of rule to supplant these failed Baathist states.

        • “Firstly, I do not believe that Western powers abandoned Russia following the Nazi invasion of Poland -Britain and Canada immediately declared war on Germany in 1939. America set up a supply line to the Soviets via Murmansk.”

          Some history is in order here. Britain declared war on Germany after Germany’s 1 September 1939 invasion of Poland because it had a defense treaty with Poland, not in solidarity with the Soviet Union. Since 23 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany had (cynically!) been signatories to the Nazi-Soviet Non-agrresion Pact. In fact, pursuant to the Pact’s secret protocols, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East on 17 September. Hitler and Stalin were in this together at the time.

          America did not set up a supply line to the Soviets via Murmansk after the Germans invaded Poland, as the Soviet Union and Germany were partners in territorial aggrandizement under the above-mentioned Nazi-Soviet Pact. It was only after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, thus abrogating the Nazi-Soviet Non-agreesion Pact, that Stalin became an ally of the Western Alliance, and America (and Britain) began the supply line to Murmansk. Prior to that, Stalin and Hitler were allies (although much like two scorpions in a bottle).

  10. Note: My website isn’t up thanks to bugs with PHP programming I’m still working to fix.

    Juan,

    I think you are being a bit unfair to Russian General Makhmout Garayev; and I generally agree with the confusion that the respondent “ALEC” might be feeling. A staple of modern geopolitics since the mid-19th century when British imperialism, Russian expansionism, a declining and defensive Ottoman Empire, and the coterie of other ambitious European powers (esp France and Bismarckian Germany) clashed with each other in Central Asia has been this: “The Great Game.” As Germany grew in power and united in the early 1870s, geopolitical theorists from Haushofer and Ratzel onwards invariably targeted Eastern European territories under Russia control as Lebensbraum (“living space”) for an expanding, industrializing Germany. Britain’s role in helping instigate the Crimean War, the British rule over India, along with their designs on the resource-rich Middle East upon whom the grip of the Ottoman Empire was rapidly diminishing; longed loom central to British designs over the heart of the Eurasian continent. Britain’s foremost geopolitical theorist, the Oxford-trained geographer Halford Mackinder, authored a 1904 paper entitled “The Geographical Pivot of History.” In that work, Mackinder referred to the Great Game led by Britain to contain Russia and of the objective of Western imperialists, led of course by Britain, to control central Eurasia and the Middle East near where the continents of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa intersect. According to Mackinder–who rules this region becomes the “pivot” power upon whom the course of world-history will rest. Much of the subsequent historical events comprise a narrative story arc that Russia can hardly be excused for interpreting as a Western attempt to surround and “contain” them through a combination of subterfuge, diplomacy, duplicity, and sometimes outright aid and abetment of enemies. To be sure, Russia is not an innocent victim as Russia herself has long been an imperialist power. But, the West has been at least as aggressive and arguably far more successful than the Russians as imperialists. Chief among these powers have been first Britain and then the United States after the conclusion of World War II. Thus, the following list of events, from a Russian point of view, establish a pattern far more than a century long of Western designs to surround, weaken, and perhaps even Balkanize Russia.

    Western response to Russia’s own internal 1917 revolution, first by abandoning Kerensky (allegedly because other Saxe-Coburg royal rulers were hoping that they could help ease the Romanovs back into power as czars in Russia), then the Western encouragement of the White Russian counterrevolution against the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks that sparked civil war, then the Wilsonian self-determination principles built into the new League of Nations, as well as Western unwillingness to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany both before and after the German invasion of Poland, followed by the decades of Cold War, and then the role Western investors and international finance institutions played in helping oligarchs sell off state-controlled assets during the Yeltsin years—-ALL of these events are seared into the Russian national memory.

    More recent geopolitical theory from the West since the end of the Cold War, from a Russian point of view at least, can hardly claim to be any less directed at weakening Russia than the British imperialism and German industrialization of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The American academic and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote The Grand Chessboard reiterating many of the themes Halford Mackinder had once elucidated. Again, Brzezinski placed control over the resource-rich Central Asia in the heart of the Eurasian landmass at the center of a geopolitical strategy necessary for American imperial dominance. Importantly, Brzezinski, though not a realist in the same vein as former officials Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger or like academics such as Kenneth Waltz or John Mearsheimer; is also definitely NOT a neo-conservative. Many of Brzezinski’s own public remarks on neoconservatives and their record under the Bush Administration have been bitingly critical. Nevertheless, the American geopolitical strategy with respect to Eurasia resembles much the same that Imperial had once pursued. The default position of the American establishment is therefore neocolonial hegemony over territories along the vast central Eurasian territory, most of which forms a long and poorly defensible border with southern Russia and the former Soviet republics with whom Russia still has close ties.

    Given this history, Russia’s reaction to NATO intervention in Syria followed by Russian outrage at Israeli airstrikes in Syrian territory is justified and General Garayev’s comments reflect Russia’s deep history of antagonism and competition with the West over Eurasia.

    Nick DahlheimNote: My website isn’t up thanks to bugs with PHP programming I’m still working on.

    Juan,
    I think you are being a bit unfair to Russian General Makhmout Garayev

    • While I am sympathetic to historical arguments, this one is bizarre. The Tsarist and Communist regimes are gone and so is the British empire. Contemporary Russia is a capitalist semi-democracy with which Western Europe and the US are glad to do business. It is ringed by weak geopolitically neutral states like Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Finland.

      Putin’s perspective is paranoid. If the West were gunning for him, Ukraine would be in NATO now, imperfect democracy or no.

      Putin being afraid of the US in Afghanistan (which is bleeding the US) or of an overthrow of Iran by a color revolution would be like the US being mortally afraid of Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela (oh, wait…)

    • Russia’s reaction to NATO intervention in Syria

      Huh? Russia is “reacting” to NATO intervention in Syria. Syria has been a Soviet/Russian client state for generations, and their intervention in the Syrian Civil War predates that of any NATO power.

      While we’re talking about Russia and geopolitical history, how about we acknowledge the long standing Russian interest in having naval access to the Mediterranean?

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • “then the Western encouragement of the White Russian counterrevolution against the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks that sparked civil war,…as well as Western unwillingness to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany both before and after the German invasion of Poland”

      Two comments on the above-cited quotes from your post.

      A. Western opposition to the Bolsheviks was a reaction to the very real program of Lenin and the Bolsheviks to encourage a communist revolution in Europe and the West. Lenin thought that it was necessary for European-wide revolutions to occur in order for the Soviet Union to succeed as a communist state. This program of encouragement of revolution in the West and subversion of European governments was imbedded in the Communist International (COMINTERN), led by Moscow. It would be a misreading of history to view this period as a poor, beleaguered Soviet Union being a victim of the West. They brought it on themselves through their active program of attempting to subvert Western governments.

      B. Regarding Western unwillingness to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany both before and after the German invasion of Poland, you are operating from a flawed premise. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact on 23 August 1939. It was a non-aggression pact that included secret protocols that granted to both Germany and the USSR their territorial ambitions. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and on 17 September 1939, the USSR invaded Poland from the east, in accordance with the secret protocols. Subsequently, the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic states and Bessarabia and Bukovina from Romania, also in accordance with the secret protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Thus, from 23 August 1939, until 22 June 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, a period which includes periods before and after the German invasion of Poland, the Soviet Union and Germany were complicit in the invasion of Poland and expanding both countries’ territorial ambitions. It makes no sense to suggest that the West was unwilling to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany during this period, as both were parties to a pact that each saw in its own interest.

    • this is the basic fact of Russian history: The Russians were perhaps the most extensive and thorough colonizers in history, especially since the 16th century. The conquest of Central Asia took over 300 years. Russian genocide of the nomadic hunter and pastoral peoples began earlier than that in the Americas and was considerably more systematic and deliberate.

  11. It’s absurd to say that Cheney and the neocons weren’t trying to use color revolutions to weaken Russia. They turned Georgia into a US weapons proxy – they were just idiots to think the Georgians would stand up to a Russian retaliation. They tried damn hard to tilt the Ukrainian elections. They tried to buy or muscle control of all the ex-Soviet ‘Stans. They built the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, whose truly bizarre route serves no purpose but to link what were thought to be anti-Russian states, to block Russian energy sales to Europe.

    So the question you all should be asking is,

    a. Do the Russians have the right to do the same nasty things to maintain a sphere of influence that the US does?

    b. Should Putin think that things are completely different with Obama instead of Bush in charge?

    Putin would rightly argue that Obama won’t be around forever, and he has to grab every advantage while he can against future US craziness.

    The solution for this would be for Obama to talk seriously with Putin about what the balance of power should be between their states, with solid guarantees and the understanding of retaliation if those guarantees are violated. This is what the rulers of the old Great Powers used to do. But it’s now impossible for any US president to vocalize any limits on US power, because the people are taught that everyone else in the world who isn’t our lackey is the New Hitler.

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