ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Washington et Moscou jouent la tension
by Gaël De Santis
Translated Sunday 7 September 2008, by
The Caucasus. U.S. vice president Dick Cheney is undertaking a mission of support for Georgia, while the Russian president renews his demand that Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili resign.
The American hawks and the men in Moscow are keeping things tense in the Caucasus. On September 3, U.S. vice president Dick Cheney began a mission of support for Georgia in Azerbaijan. He’s the highest U.S. authority to visit the region since the conflict began on August 8. Secretary of state Condoleeza Rice had gone to Georgia right in the middle of the fighting between the Russian and Georgian armies. Cheney’s demonstration of Washington’s support comes as more and more revelations surface regarding assistance by U.S. officers during the Georgian intervention against the Southern Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
Far from trying to calm the situation, the two great powers are making one provocative declaration after the other. “For us, the present Georgian regime is bankrupt,” Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian head of state, declared on Tuesday. “President Saakashvili no longer exists for us. He’s politically dead.” With these words, he was repeating the Russian demand, made in the initial days of the conflict, that the Georgian president resign.
For his part, John McCain, the Republican candidate for the White House who has just obtained President George W. Bush’s backing, alluded to the possible exclusion of Russia from the Group of Eight (G8). “Calls are being made, which I can only explain as being an American election technique to increase popularity ratings through a conflictual atmosphere,” Dmitri Medvedev replied.
At a time when many analysts see the Russian intervention as a response to the widening of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the former Soviet republics, the U.S. ambassador to NATO said it was necessary to defend the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) against any Russian intervention. “These countries are NATO members; consequently if any aggression were committed against these countries, we must respond.”
Last June Estonia accused Moscow when it faced a cyber attack against its computer servers.
Moreover, NATO has announced that it is sending a delegation to Georgia, to be led by its general secretary, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, on September 15-16.