Defence and Security Alert - DSAlert.Org

Tuesday October 15, 2019

Current Issue: October 2019

Click here for all past issues

 

Save

Subscribe for Updates

Subscribe to receive news
and to hear latest updates!

Quick Contact

:
:
:
Type the characters below

captcha
English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

Russia: A Difficult Global Player

| | | Share |

Writer: Dominika Cosic
With Russia, keeping global security and order is difficult but without Russia it is impossible. Certainly Russia is still one of the global players. But the role which Russia is playing is hard to describe. On the one hand Russia is helpful in solving of complicated international situations, but on the other hand Russia is creating problems. A visible example was war in Georgia in 2008, when Russia strongly supported two separatist regions: Ossetia and Abkhazia and later attacked Georgia.


Without Russia NATO and American presence in Afghanistan would be not possible. Russia is a key country to at least guarantee security of transport. But for Russia, Afghanistan for many years was dramatic trauma for the Coalition Forces. In 1979 Soviet Union sent in troops at request of the Afghan government but fell out with President Hafizullah Amin, who was executed. With the backing of Russia, Babrak Karmal, leader of the People's Democratic Party Parcham, was installed as ruler. From March 1980 to April 1985 anti-regime resistance intensified as numerous mujahideen groups clashed with Soviet forces.

The Afghanistan Case

Some Western countries, including the United States and Britain, supplied the rebels with arms and money. From April 1985 to January 1987 we observed new chapter of conflict in Afghanistan – the mujahideen unite in Pakistan to form an alliance against Soviet forces. New Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev promises to withdraw Russian troops from Afghanistan, while rebels continue to be assisted by the West. As a result of this declaration, from January 1987 to February 1989 Soviet forces slowly withdrew from Afghanistan. For the Soviet Union it was one of the most traumatic disasters, with around 15,000 soldiers killed and more than 53,000 seriously wounded. And as eminent dissident, Vladimir Bukovsky said, this war was one of the crucial reasons for the collapse of Soviet Union. So this specific return of Russia to Afghanistan in a new role looks like a paradox of history.

Serbia And Kosovo

Russia was always an advocate of Serbia in western Balkans region. Both the countries (Serbia and Russia) shared the same Christian orthodox religion. Russia usually appeared to protect and support Serbia even during the Turkish occupation. Honestly speaking it was just vocal support rather then real material help but it was a base for reinforcing friendship. Thanks to Serbia, Russia was able to play a role in the Balkans game. When in 1991 Yugoslavia started to collapse and Croatia and Slovenia declared independence, Russia politically supported Serbia. In 1999, when NATO decided to attack so called New Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) Russia promised to help “Serbian orthodox brothers”. However, even a Resolution proposed by Russia condemning the bombing was defeated in the Security Council with only Russia, China and Namibia voting in favour. Voicing disagreement with the continued bombing of Yugoslavia, Russian President Boris Yeltsin called it an attempt to establish a ”dictatorship of force.” He complained that the air campaign, which was launched without approval from the United Nations, “has trampled upon the foundations of international law and the United Nations Charter”. What was quite an interesting curiosity, in a vote that could have led to the revival of a form of the old Soviet Union, the Russian Duma voted then, by an overwhelming margin, to bring Yugoslavia into a Slavic union with Russia and Belarus ... In reality it was just a political statement. Nonetheless, the Russians made a surprise early entrance into Kosovo by taking control of the Pristina airport where the NATO command post was to be established and block passage of British forces into the airport. It was the only one real, not political, Russian action.

Russia was always an advocate of Serbia in western Balkans region. Both the countries (Serbia and Russia) shared the same Christian orthodox religion. Russia usually appeared to protect and support Serbia even during the Turkish occupation. Honestly speaking it was just vocal support rather then real material help but it was a base for reinforcing friendship. Nonetheless, the Russians made a surprise early entrance into Kosovo by taking control of the Pristina airport where the NATO command post was to be established and block passage of British forces into the airport. It was the only one real, not political, Russian action

War In Chechnya

The crucial question is: Why Russia was against this war and later on independence of Kosovo? Of course not only because of orthodox brotherhood. Russia was afraid that it will be dangerous exemption which would be used by some regions in former Soviet Union. Like Chechnya for example.

Following long resistance during the 1817-1864 Caucasian War, Russia finally defeated the Chechens and annexed their lands in the 1870s. The Chechens’ subsequent attempts at gaining independence after the fall of the Russian Empire failed and in 1922 Chechnya was incorporated into Bolshevist Russia and later into the Soviet Union (USSR). In 1936, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin created the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1944, on the orders of NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria, more than half a million Chechens, the Ingush and several other North Caucasian peoples were deported to Siberia and Central Asia, officially as punishment for alleged collaboration with the invading German forces during the 1940-1944 insurgency in Chechnya; the Chechen-Ingush Republic was abolished. Eventually, Soviet first secretary Nikita Khrushchev granted the Vainakh (Chechen and Ingush) peoples permission to return to their homeland and restored their republic in 1957.

In 1991, militants of the All-National Congress of the Chechen People (NCChP) party, created by the former Soviet Air Force general Dzhokhar Dudayev, stormed a session of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR Supreme Soviet with the aim of asserting independence. This effectively dissolved the government of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic of the Soviet Union. In the following month, Dudayev won overwhelming popular support (as evidenced by the later presidential elections with high turnout and a clear Dudayev victory) to oust the interim administration that was supported by the central government. He was made president and declared independence from the Soviet Union. In November 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin dispatched Internal Troops to Grozny, but they were forced to withdraw when Dudayev's forces surrounded them at the airport. After

Chechnya made its initial declaration of sovereignty, the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic split in two in June 1992 amidst the Ingush armed conflict against another Russian republic, North Ossetia. The newly created republic of Ingushetia then joined the Russian Federation, while Chechnya declared full independence from Moscow in 1993 as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI). In reaction Russia launched military intervention in Chechnya. In fact there were two wars in this republic: 1994-1996 and from 1999-2009. In the first war it was estimated that tens of thousands to more than 1,00,000 people died. The exact death toll from the second war is unknown. Unofficial estimates range from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians in Chechnya. Russian casualties are over 5,200 (official Russian casualty figures and are about 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers. Chechnya which allowed Vladimir Putin to come to power, was disaster for the people of the region. But, coming back to the initial point: Kosovo, Russia did not want to recognise Kosovo because Chechnya would use this argument to fight again for her own independence.

War In Georgia

But Russian diplomacy is a real global masterpiece. The trick was that war in Kosovo in both cases (recognition of independence or not) was useful for Russia. First case I have already explained.

It was evident that Russia was supporting Abkhazia and Ossetia and even provoking them. It was not only a war on Ossetia and Abkhazia – main goal was independence of Georgia. Thanks to quick and brave political engagement of president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski who established pro-Georgian coalition and encouraged European Union to take some political decisions, Georgia survived

But the second one? Russia used casus belli of Kosovo to encourage two rebellious provinces of Georgia: Ossetia and Abkhazia to proclaim independence. They did it just few months after declaration of independence of Kosovo, in summer 2008. The 1991-1992 South Ossetia War between ethnic Georgians and Ossetians had left slightly more than a half of South Ossetia under de facto control of a Russian-backed, internationally unrecognised government. Most ethnic Georgian parts of South Ossetia remained under the control of Georgia with Georgian, North Ossetian and Russian Joint peacekeeping force present in the territories. A similar situation existed in Abkhazia after the War in Abkhazia (1992-1993). Increasing tensions escalated during the summer months of 2008. In August Russian spokesman said Russia would defend Russian citizens in South Ossetia if they were attacked. Russia looked for excuses for intervention. During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory. Georgia claimed that it was responding to attacks on its peacekeepers and villages in South Ossetia and that Russia was moving non-peacekeeping units into the country. Russia reacted by deploying units of the Russian 58th Army and Russian Airborne Troops into South Ossetia one day later and launching airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia and military and logistical targets in Georgia proper. Russia claimed these actions were a necessary humanitarian intervention and peace enforcement. Russian and Ossetian forces battled Georgian forces throughout South Ossetia for a few days. It was evident that Russia was supporting Abkhazia and Ossetia and even provoking them. It was not only a war on Ossetia and Abkhazia – main goal was independence of Georgia. Thanks to quick and brave political engagement of president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski who established pro-Georgian coalition and encouraged European Union to take some political decisions, Georgia survived. Independent and pro-American Georgia headed by Mikheil Saakashvili who came to power thanks to the so-called Rose Revolution was big obstacle for Russian presence in Caucasus region. This war proved that Russia can also play a very destabilising role.

Concluding, I can only repeat – with Russia it is quite difficult to keep order, but without Russian support it is impossible. Because Russia is powerful enough to block political decision process and even support the military or ethnic groups in certain countries.


blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You are here: Home International Experts' Opinion International Geo-Politics Russia: A Difficult Global Player