At present Moscow is using threats that Ukrainians will suffer if their nation joins NATO or if the Russian fleet is ousted from Sevastopol. At the same time, Russia has been supporting pro-Russian separatist feelings in Crimea and making territorial claims on Sevastopol. Moscow needs a pro-Moscow allied government in Kyiv or, if that is impossible, a separation of Crimea and Eastern and Southern Ukraine (with Mykolaiv), where millions of Russian speakers may either want to join Russia or form an allied protectorate.
The situation is different in Georgia, where a vast majority voted to join NATO in a referendum on January 5. There is no hope in Moscow that any anti-NATO pro-Russian forces may come to power in Tbilisi, and military action in support of separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is being seriously contemplated (see EDM, June 12). The Russian Foreign Ministry has officially announced that Moscow refuses to discuss with Tbilisi the legality of the deployment of additional troops and armaments in Abkhazia, because the troops "prevented a Georgian blitzkrieg" (www.mid.ru, June 17). When substantial talks are essentially stopped while additional troops are deployed, it’s more than just a threat of the use of force.
Heather Maher, at RFE/RL:
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried told members of Congress on June 18 that the wave of democracy that swept from Central to Eastern Europe in 1989 has yielded astonishing and successful results in terms of democracy, human rights, and free-market systems. The question now, he said, is whether that wave will extend to the easternmost borders of what he called "wider Europe."
By that, Fried was referring to the Caucasus: specifically, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia -- three very different states that share similar problems. All are struggling to quell internal separatist conflicts, to establish independent judicial institutions and modern financial systems, and, in general, to build new identities as sovereign, successful nation-states.
Fried offered his comments to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, which heard that U.S. foreign policy toward all three countries is to support them as they journey along the same path toward full democracy and market-based economies that their neighbors to the West have already traveled. Fried said no outside power -- he mentioned Russia specifically -- should be able to extend its sphere of influence over the three.
"We do not believe that any outside power should be able to threaten or block the sovereign choice of these nations to join the institutions of Europe and the trans-Atlantic family, if they so choose, and if we so choose," Fried said.