Back on Aug. 16, after Russia invaded Georgia, I wrote that the bear was growling again… and that the global implications were clear.
It looked as if Russia suddenly joined the elite club of countries that could write its own rules.
Just as the US ignored widespread criticism when it invaded Iraq, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ignored international pressure over a war they helped to provoke by arming rebels in the Georgian state of South Ossetia.
And its rewards were equal to the risk it took in Georgia. Because, from the Russian standpoint, the immediate benefit was clear.
NATO membership for Georgia, which Sen. John McCain and President George Bush had been pushing earlier this year, was likely scuttled when Georgia blundered its South Ossetia incursion.
Back in August I also wrote that Ukraine’s NATO membership would be derailed, too. Its pro-western President, Victor Yushchenko, would likely keep his head down and his rhetoric soft while Russia could still taste fresh Georgian blood...
Looks like that all came true if you can believe the media. Here is a representation of last weekend's headlines as expressed by a translation of a Tribuna de La Habana story.
Russia hails U.S. 'common sense' over Georgia, Ukraine NATO bid
28/11/2008 09:18 HAVANA, November 28 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed satisfaction on Friday with a U.S. decision not to push for Georgia and Ukraine's fast-track membership of NATO.
Condoleeza Rice, the outgoing U.S. secretary of state, said on Wednesday the United States would not press for membership for the two countries at a NATO summit starting next week.
"I am pleased that common sense has prevailed, regrettably at the end of the present administration's work. This indicates the current state of affairs. The most important thing is that this idea is not being pushed forward relentlessly and absurdly - as it has been for the past several years," Medvedev said during a visit to Havana.
According to some sources, Condoleezza Rice had earlier had extensive telephone conversations with French, German and other European envoys, asking them to agree to waive the formal application process for Georgia and NATO.
The Russian president also said Georgia and Ukraine should conduct national referendums to decide on their respective NATO bids.
At the Brussels NATO summit, due to take place on December 2-3, NATO ministers were to have assessed the readiness of Ukraine and Georgia for Membership Action Plans, a key step for membership in the 26-nation military alliance.
At its Bucharest summit in April, NATO refused to grant Georgia and Ukraine action plans, but promised to review the decision in December. The countries had received strong U.S. backing for their bids. However, concerns by Germany and France that doing so would unnecessarily antagonize Russia won the day. Russia is strongly opposed to NATO expansion around its borders.
And that is why I treat my global intelligence sources like gold… or to gold. They are just about never wrong on the big stuff, which is what counts.
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