Commentary Magazine


This Week’s Georgia

Yesterday, Valeri Kuzmin, Moscow’s ambassador to Moldova, warned the former Soviet republic not to make the same mistakes as Georgia.  The now-independent nation should avoid the “bloody and catastrophic trend of events” in the separatist Trans-Dniester region, the ambassador said.

This follows similar comments from Dmitry Medvedev to Moldova yesterday.  “After the Georgian leadership lost their marbles, as they say, all the problems got worse and a military conflict erupted,” the Russian president said to his Moldovan counterpart, Vladimir Voronin.  “This is a serious warning, a warning to all.”

The real warning, of course, is that Medvedev’s Russia does not intend to stop and consolidate its gains in Georgia.  He and Prime Minister Putin have not only absorbed large blocks of Georgian territory, they have also begun their campaign to either tame or destabilize other neighbors.  Moreover, they have cut off military relations with NATO, signaled their intention to not seek membership in the World Trade Organization, and told President Bush to shelve efforts to obtain Congressional approval for their civilian nuclear cooperation deal.  For his part, Mr. Bush has appeared dazed in public and issued statements of no particular significance.  In comparison to him, the French look forthright–daring to call Russia “an international outlaw“–and even resolute.

Mr. Bush, you have just heard the recent words from President Medvedev and Ambassador Kuzmin.  What will you do in response?  The West may still be waiting for you.  The Russians are not.