Policy Statements
Caucasus Crisis - 2008

  Georgia: Moscow's Plan is to Redraw the Map of Europe
Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia

Financial Times, August 28, 2008

On-going series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan

Any doubts about why Russia invaded Georgia have now been erased. By illegally recog-nizing the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, made clear that Moscow's goal is to redraw the map of Europe using force.

This war was never about South Ossetia or Georgia. Moscow is using its invasion, prepared over years, to rebuild its empire, seize greater control of Europe's energy supplies and punish those who believed democracy could flourish on its borders. Europe has reason to worry. Thankfully, most of the international community has condemned the invasion and confirmed their unwavering support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignity.

Our first duty is to highlight Russia's Orwellian tactics. Moscow says it invaded Georgia to protect its citizens in South Ossetia. Over the past five years it cynically laid the groundwork for this pretence, by illegally distributing passports in South Ossetia and Ab-khazia, "manufacturing" Russian citizens to protect. The cynicism of Russia's concern for ethnic minorities can be expressed in one word: Chechnya.

This cynicism has become hypocritical and criminal. Since Russia's invasion, its forces have been "cleansing" Georgian villages in both regions - including outside the conflict zone - using arson, rape and execution. Human rights groups have documented these actions. Moscow has flipped the Kosovo precedent on its head: where the west acted to prevent ethnic cleansing, in Georgia ethnic cleansing is being used by Russia to consolidate its military annexation.

Other Russian lies have also been debunked. The most egregious was Moscow's absurd claim on the eve of the invasion that Georgia was committing genocide in South Ossetia, with 2,000 civilian deaths. A week later, Moscow admitted that only 133 people had died. These were overwhelmingly military casualties and came after the Russian invasion. But the genocide claim served its goal. In a media era hungry for content, the big lie still works.

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