In a speech she will give before the German Marshall Fund today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will challenge Russia over its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the IHT/NYT reports:
“What has become clear is that the legitimate goal of rebuilding Russia has taken a dark turn with the rollback of personal freedoms, the arbitrary enforcement of the law, the pervasive corruption at various levels of Russian society and the paranoid, aggressive impulse, which has manifested itself before in Russian history,” she will say, according to her prepared remarks, which were pointedly released in advance to draw added attention to them.
Despite such criticism, Russia appears increasingly determined to defy the United States and Europe and test their willingness to punish Russia for its dismemberment of Georgia. Mr. Medvedev signed the treaties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia during elaborate ceremonies in the Kremlin.
After routing Georgian forces in a five-day war, Russia recognized the independence of both regions, which had effectively though not formally seceded from Georgia after violent conflicts that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
So far only Nicaragua has joined Russia in recognizing the two as sovereign nations, as has Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls Gaza. Ms. Rice mocks Russia’s diplomatic efforts in her remarks. “A pat on the back from Daniel Ortega and Hamas is hardly a diplomatic triumph,” she says, referring to Nicaragua’s president.