Alex Massie

More Trouble in the Caucasus

Text settings

Clumsy. Stupid. Counter-productive. Russian policy in Georgia has moved into a new phase. As I suggested yesterday, the Russians now seem determined to answer a Georgian miscalculation with one of their own. Yes, Russia is projecting "strength" by moving into indisputably Georgian territory, but at what cost? It may be that the Russians don't give a fig about what the West thinks, but in the longer run it seems that toppling Sakaashvili is an unnecessary over-reaction. Once the Georgians had offered their ceasefire (or been driven out of South Ossetia) a more prudent Russian response might have been to accept this. There's much to be said for quitting while you're ahead.

Anyway, I agree with everything the estimable Mr Poulos writes here. The Russians seem determined upon seeing Saakashvili's blunder with one of their own. But that does not mean that the immediate, even visceral anti-Moscow tilt favoured by some is or was the correct or sensible response. At the very least, one might hope there'd be some sense of priorities: what price Georgia when set beside, say, Russian help with Iran?

Equally, I agree with Mr Larison here. Russia's subsequent over-reaction does not excuse Georgia's initial provocation, nor indubitably cast it in a heroic, let's-admire-the-scrappy-wee-guy bronze.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSocietyrussia