Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Red Rag and the Bull

In its report on the Georgia crisis, Finland's main Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet includes a short interview with Dr. Svante Cornell of the Central Asia- Caucasus Institute Silk Road Studies Program in Uppsala, Sweden. In the interview, Cornell says (my tr.) that

it's not a foregone conclusion that the release of the Russian officers will thaw the now extremely frosty relations between the two countries, or that the sanctions imposed by the Russian side will immediately be lifted.

"Implicitly the Russians are threatening a war. They've recalled their ambassador, their staff, they're cutting the lines of communication. What has to be realized is that the Russians see this whole episode as a big provocation.

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"I am not sure that this is going to blow over. Their positions are extremely locked. For President Vladimir Putin Saakashvili is like a red rag to a bull. This is a good excuse for Russia to tighten the thumbscrews on Georgia," says Cornell.

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