From Russia with love, not

By Tessa Trafford & Jessica Edgson

pic supplied

One of the biggest stories in recent news is the conflict between Russia and Georgia. For those who, quite understandably, don’t even know where Georgia is, it is a country bordered by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea – a part of the region generally referred to as Eurasia. The conflict has erupted because of a dispute over a region known as South Ossetia. This region borders on both Russia and Georgia and is known as a separatist region, a term which refers to an area which has broken away from the country it was originally a part of. On Friday, 8 August 2008, Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin declared that “war has started” after Russia conducted airstrikes on Georgian targets.

Fighting broke out earlier this month as Russia invaded South Ossetia. This area has been known as a separatist region since it declared independence shortly after the end of the Cold War. There is some dispute, however, as to who invaded South Ossetia first. This region provides a ‘buffer zone’ between Russia and Georgia and is therefore a strategic piece of land which both countries have obviously been eyeing out. The fighting continued for five days and as many as a thousand people died before a ceasefire was called. However, even with the implementation of a ceasefire, Georgian authorities were not appeased because they said that the Russians were still occupying the area and continuing to bomb populated areas. According to reports at the time of going to print, Russian troops were still present in the region and there was no sign of an impending pull-out. Russian and Georgian authorities have been trying to work out the terms of the ceasefire but with neither side trusting the other, little has been achieved on the path to peace.

The sudden involvement of the US in the conflict has added yet more world interest in the situation. The American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been in Georgia and is holding meetings with the leaders of the two nations. The reason given for her presence is that she is helping to work out the terms of the ceasefire deal. One of her main challenges is to convince Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, to sign the actual deal. The difficulty in this is that Georgia would be required to concede more than Russia would, despite the fact that it is Russia which has invaded Georgia. “This is not an agreement about the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is about getting Russian troops out,” Rice said in a recent statement. The US has been opnly supporting Georgia in its attempt to rid itself of the Russian troops.

America’s involvement and risky stance against Russia, is yet another instance of the world’s most powerful nation involving itself in affairs not related to them. While it is, indeed, the current superpower of the world, the question needs to be asked, why does the US constantly seek to play the role of the world’s policeman? There may be pro-American answers for it and there may be anti-American answers for it; maybe America is concerned that this tension will contribute to already escalating oil prices or they may just be genuinely concerned about conflict. Or, they may be concerned that if they are not in the media they may just be forgotten about.

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