Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Only Palestine’s Hamas Backs Kremlin’s Recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 27 – While anti-American states like Cuba and Venezuela may soon follow and while Russia may be able to pressure some of its neighbors lest they face a similar threat, in the 24 hours after Dmitry Medvedev announced Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia only Palestine’s terrorist Hamas Movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it backed the move.
Today, the site surveyed the reaction of governments, international organizations and some parties abroad to Medvedev’s move. As has been widely reported, NATO, the OSCE, and the European Union and their members have denounced Moscow’s action, as has the UN secretary general (
But some of the specific reactions that reports have received less attention. Polish President Lech Kaczynski denounced Medvedev’s move as a blatant attempt to “legalize the results of the unprecedented aggression of the Russian Federation toward the Georgian state.”
Greece, which often has adopted a more than cautious approach to Russia, denounced it, with its foreign minister Dora Bakoyannnis using terms almost as harsh as those the Poles and Baltic states have employed. And Japan on the other side of the world echoed the position of Washington and the Europeans, expressing regret at what Moscow has done.
Ukraine, the site said, announced that it considered Russia’s “recognition” to be equivalent to “the occupation of part of the territory of Georgia” by means of the creation and support of “marionette regimes.” And Azerbaijan repeated its longstanding view that Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.
So far, the other CIS countries, including Belarus, have refrained from public comment or from following Russia’s lead. And Serbia, a country with which Russia has had close relations, has neither recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia or backed Moscow, steps that would contradict its own interest in recovering Kosovo.
According to some Russian analysts, Moscow will not pick up any support at the Shanghai Cooperation Council meeting in Dushanbe today. On the one hand, they note, “Russia does not dominate” that group, and on the other, China, which is a rising power, “is not interested in a sharp confrontation with the US and NATO (
Not surprisingly, Abkhazia and South Ossetia greeted each other during the day, and the government of Transdniestria, the breakaway unrecognized region in Moldova, also sent messages of congratulation to the two newly “recognized” states.
But beyond that, the only bright spot -- albeit a not unproblematic one -- Moscow could possibly find in this first day after its move came from the Palestinian Hamas movement, which welcomed Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, seeing this as a precedent which would “give hope to all oppressed peoples.”
But Russian officials and those who either are dominated by them or wish to curry favor with them remained upbeat. Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, the president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia, predicted that by the end of this year, 50 to 60 countries will decide to recognize these two breakaway republics (
That seems unlikely, and in the short term, few countries are likely to follow Moscow either because they do not want to cross the Western powers, because they feel threatened by ethnic or regional challenges or because they accept Tbilisi’s argument that Russian recognition in fact amounts to Russian “annexation” of Georgian territory (
And consequently, the move that Russian nationalist commentators and some analysts in the West have pointed to as an indication that Russia is back as a super power in fact is highlighting Moscow’s isolation and reduced its chances to have the kind of influence or play the role that its leaders have said they want it to internationally.

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