Saturday, September 04, 2004

Putin's Speech

Vladimir Putin makes a very, very important speech (thanks to Stygius for linking to it) that I precieve to be the prologe to a new Russian offensive in the Caucasus. Putin, for the first time that I can remember, publicly admitted Russian weakness in terrorism and border defense. This is key, because Putin's image as a tough, resolute leader has been severly wounded in these attacks. By admitting the weakness, he will seek to redeem himself through military actions.

I concur with Styguis when he says this statement in largely directed at Georgia:
"Some want to tear away saucy piece of our wealth, while others help these aspirants in so doing. They still believe that Russia poses a threat to them as a nuclear power. That is why this threat must be eliminated, and terrorism is just another instrument in implementing their designs."
The other day, Styguis said in a reply to me, about the possibility that Putin would invade and annex Georgia.
I think this creates the right environment to ratchet up [Russia’s] attitude towards Georgia, and perhaps rightfully so. I think [Putin] would at least like to mount a sustained military expedition into that region. However, I highly doubt Russia would dare invade all of Georgia, let alone annex all [of] it.
Indeed, the annexation of Georgia would be the worst case scenario. I agree that Russia would, in all probability, launch an expedition into the Pankisi Gorge, but I can't see Georgia taking it laying down. Although, I'm sure the Georgian military is no match for Russia's, to allow Putin to enter the Gorge without much resistance by Saakashvili will pretty much spell the end of his presidency. Another thing that leads me to believe that a Russian Pankisi Gorge incursion might be expanded into other parts of Georgia is that before all of these attacks happened, Russia and Georgia's respective militaries were preparing for war, not just in the Gorge.

I failed to factor in that Saakashvili is a pro-American president and Putin, I believe, got somewhat of a greenlight to launch an offensive from President Bush yesterday.
"This is yet another grim reminder of the length to which terrorists will go to threaten the civilized world. We mourn the innocent lives that have been lost," he said. "We stand with the people of Russia. We send them our prayers in this terrible situation."
Styguis also links to this WaPo article on Putin's speech.