Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cuban Response to the Russian-Georgian Conflict and Reflections From Fidel Castro

Official statement from the government of Cuba

CUBA defends peace as an indispensable prerequisite for the development of all the peoples of the world.

For more than 50 years, our people have been the victim of aggression on the part of U.S. governments, obliging them to invest countless resources and energy. They have been firm and tenacious in the defense of the country’s sovereignty and support the efforts of the UN and its struggle for peace.

One part of our territory has been occupied by force for more than 100 years and Cuba has never attempted or will attempt to use violence in order to recover it. Cuba’s foreign policy is known and acknowledged by the international community.

At this moment, a crisis is arising that is worrying the peoples, stemming from news of the fighting that has broken out in the Caucasus, on the border with southern Russia.

When the USSR disintegrated, South Ossetia, annexed by force by Georgia, with which it shared neither nationality nor culture, retained its status as an autonomous republic with its local authorities and its capital, Tskhinvali. At dawn on August 8, Georgia, in complicity with the U.S. government, launched its forces on South Ossetia in an attempt to occupy the capital, which it publicly announced on the same day that the Olympic Games were inaugurated in Beijing.

It is a false claim that Georgia is defending its national sovereignty.

The Russian troops were in South Ossetia legally, as a force for guaranteeing the peace, as is known by the international community; they have not committed any illegality.

The request for the invaders to withdraw is just, and our government supports it.

Cuba, threatened by U.S. forces, cannot, as a matter of principle, agree with a cease-fire without the withdrawal of the invaders. If Cuba were attacked by foreign forces, it would never accept such a cease-fire.

Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the Councils of State and Ministers
Havana, August 10, 2008
Translated by Granma International

Reflections by Comrade Fidel


Perhaps some governments are unaware of the concrete facts, and so for that reason Raúl’s message setting Cuba’s position seemed to us to be very timely. I shall be generous in the aspects that cannot be dealt with in a brief and precise official statement.

The government of Georgia would never have launched its armed forces against the capital of the Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia in the dawn of August 8th, engaged in what it called the re-establishing of constitutional order, without previous coordination with Bush who, last month in Bucharest, committed to support President Saakashvili for Georgia’s admission to NATO; that is like plunging a sharpened dagger deep into Russia’s heart.

Many European states that are members of that military organization are seriously concerned about the irresponsible manipulation of the nationalities issue, fraught with potential conflict, which within Great Britain itself might result in the disintegration of the United Kingdom. This is how Yugoslavia was dismantled: Tito’s efforts to avoid it proved useless after his death.

What need was there to light the powder keg of the Caucasus? How often is the jug taken to the well before it shatters? Russia continues to be a strong nuclear power. It has thousands of such weapons. On the other hand, I must recall that the Western economy illegally siphoned out more than 500 billion dollars from that country.

If Russia today is no longer a Communist threat and it no longer has more than 400 nuclear launching-pads directly aimed at Europe’s military and strategic targets since they were dismantled after the demise of the USSR, why do they seem determined to surround it with a nuclear shield? The old continent also needs peace.

The Russian troops stationed in South Ossetia were sent there on an internationally recognized peace mission: they were not shooting wantonly.

Why did Georgia choose August 8th, at the time the Olympic Games were being opened in Beijing, to occupy Tskhinvali, the capital of the Autonomous Republic? On that day, four billion people on the entire planet were watching on television the marvelous spectacle with which China was opening those games.

Only the American people could not enjoy a live broadcast of the exciting festival of friendship among all the people of the world that was staged there. The monopoly over the broadcasting rights had been bought by a television channel that had paid 900 million dollars and wanted to earn maximum commercial dividends for every minute of broadcasting time. The rival corporations got even by covering news of the war in the Caucasus since this was nobody’s exclusive. The dangers of a serious conflict were threatening the world.

Bush did enjoy the spectacle as an official guest. On Sunday the 10th, two and a half days later, he could still be seen waving flags, pretending to be a champion of peace and preparing to delight in the victories of the excellent American athletes, those which his eyes, accustomed to besmirching everything, were looking upon as the symbol of the power and superiority of his empire.

In his moments of leisure, he held long conversations with his officials in Washington, threatened Russia and encouraged the humiliating speeches against that country given by the representative of the United States in the UN Security Council.

Some of the countries that had made up the socialist bloc or been part of the USSR itself are today acting as United States protectorates. Their governments, driven by a reckless hatred for Russia, --such as the case of Poland and the Czech Republic-- aligned themselves in positions of absolute support for Bush and for the surprise attack on South Ossetia by Saakashvili, an adventurer with a bizarre background who was born under Socialism in Tbilisi, the capital of the country, graduated as a lawyer from a Kiev university and took postgraduate courses in Strasburg, New York and Washington.

He was a practicing lawyer in New York City. He comes off as a Westernized Georgian, greedy and opportunistic. He returned to his country supported by the Yankees and then went fishing in the tempestuous river of the USSR disintegration. He was elected President of Georgia in January 2004.

Following the United States and Great Britain, that is the country with most soldiers in the Iraqi war adventure; and not precisely out of internationalist sentiment. When Cuba, throughout almost two decades, sent hundreds of thousands of combatants to fight for independence and against colonialism and apartheid in Africa, they were not seeking fuel, raw materials or capital gains: they were volunteers. Thus our steel-like principles were forged.

What are Georgian soldiers doing in Iraq if not supporting a war which has cost that people hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of victims? What ideals are they defending there? It is only natural that people from South Ossetia do not wish to be sent as soldiers to fight in Iraq or in other parts of the planet at the behest of imperialism.

Saakashvili, on his own, would never have jump to the adventure of sending the Georgian army into South Ossetia, where he would be clashing with Russian troops stationed there as a peace force. A nuclear war is not something to fool around with; and providing cannon fodder to the market cannot be rewarded.

This reflection was already drafted when Bush spoke at 5:30 p.m. Cuban time. But none of what he said changes what we are analyzing here: if only the U.S. government media war is today even much more intense. It is the same prefabricated maneuver that fools no-one.

The Russians have very clearly stated that the withdrawal of the invaders to their positions prior to the conflict is the only decent solution possible. Let’s hope that the Olympic Games can continue without interruption by a very serious crisis. The women’s volleyball match with a good U.S. team was great and baseball has yet to begin.

Fidel Castro Ruz
August 11, 2008
6:21 p.m.

Roots of Georgia-Russia clash run deep

The war broadened Monday as Russian troops moved beyond rebel provinces into Georgia proper

By Fred Weir
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
and Paul Rimple
Contributor in Tbilisi, Georgia
and John Wendle
Contributor in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia

From the August 12, 2008 edition

Reporter Fred Weir discusses whether Russia and the West are on the brink of another cold war.

MOSCOW - Ancient ethnic strife, fanned by East-West rivalry and Moscow's growing regional ambitions, lie behind the war over Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where Russian troops opened a second front Monday.

For dozens of young Ossetian men lined up at a Russian Army recruitment center in the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz, the conflict is a replay of endless clashes with their traditional foe: Georgia. For Georgians, whose forces are retrenching after failing to retake the separatist province of South Ossetia, the war appears just the latest futile effort to unite their country against what they see as Moscow's neocolonial designs.

US and Russian diplomats, who sparred angrily over the crisis at a United Nations session Sunday, were falling back into the language and passions of their long, bitter cold-war standoff.

"This conflict has very deep and complicated roots," says analyst Alexei Malashenko at the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "It was Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who started it, hoping to redraw the whole situation with one sweeping action. But if it goes on for much longer, it is likely that there will be no winners, and Russia will suffer very badly, too."

The war, which began with a lightning Georgian offensive Friday aimed at ending secessionist South Ossetia's 16-year-old de facto independence, prompted a Russian military intervention which, by Monday, had put Russian forces in full control of the region. The West worries that Moscow's true goal is to subjugate pro-West Georgia and overthrow its democratically elected president, Mr. Saakashvili. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Monday, Saakashvili warned that if Moscow's drive succeeds, Western influence in the region will be defunct.

Hours after President Dmitri Medvedev asserted Monday that Russia's limited "peace mission" in South Ossetia was nearly over, Russian troops rolled into Georgia proper. The move into the western town of Senaki, which lies well over Georgia's buffer zone with Abkhazia, opened a second front in the conflict. At press time, Russia had also moved into the Georgian town of Gori, just outside South Ossetia.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged Russia Monday to accept a cease-fire that Georgia had signed, saying there is "no justification for continued Russian military action in Georgia, which threatens the stability of the entire region and risks a humanitarian catastrophe."

Russian experts say that Moscow seeks to blunt US influence in the region and halt the eastward expansion of NATO into the former Soviet Union. Beyond that, it is likely to become the main arbiter of disputes in its area, including Georgia.

"Russia is moving toward an analagous role [vis-à-vis South Ossetia] to that which the US plays when it, for example, guarantees the security of Taiwan against attack by mainland China," says Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the official Institute of Commonwealth of Independent States Studies in Moscow. "But this situation is beginning to look too much like a direct clash between Russia and the US," which has strongly taken Georgia's side, he adds.

Whatever the outcome, the conflict has already inflamed old hatreds and its consequences seem likely to reverberate destructively around the entire multinational Caucasus region, which was conquered by Russia in the 19th century and later divvied into ethnically defined cantons by Soviet social engineers.

1 comment:

Inquilabbi said...

CPGB-ML Statement on south ossetia