Superpower Russia

BY TAHA AKYOL

MILLIYET- Last week South Ossetia unilaterally declared it was seceding from Georgia, and Russia, which supports the Ossetian people so as to divide Georgia, attacked Georgia. Russia has 23,000 tanks, and Georgia has only 128! Russia has 1,080 warplanes, but Georgia has only eight! All Russia had to do for its ends was to put its army into little South Ossetia, but instead it started a terrible war. Although Georgia withdrew from South Ossetia, Russia continued the fighting, and turned the Georgian city of Gori (outside South Ossetia) into a wreck, bombed the Black Sea port of Poti, and refused to reciprocate Georgia's cease-fire. Georgia now faces a terrible humanitarian disaster. As I was writing this, Russia just entered Abkhazia! Russia is clearly attacking Georgia without constraints and thus intimidating all the nations of the Caucasus!

Of course the first factors that come to mind are Caucasian oil, Azerbaijan's security and stability, the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi pipeline, and how this pipeline connects these three countries and the West. Russia started this war last Thursday, and two days earlier, in Refahiye, Erzincan in eastern Turkey, the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi pipeline was sabotaged, an attack the terrorist PKK claimed responsibility for. This act of sabotage could push up world oil prices. In addition, the PKK killed nine Turkish soldiers in Erzincan yesterday. Of course the timing isn't enough to claim that there's a relationship between Russia's offensive and the PKK attacks, but the PKK's political aims in committing this sabotage and the attack are interesting. The PKK wants to enter the equation in great strategies in the region. In our era, energy resources and their transportation constitute a very strategic factor! Considering the strategic importance of the Caucasus, Russia's use of excessive force against Georgia is causing concerns that Moscow is again pursuing superpower-type policies.

During the Turkish War of Independence, Ataturk and his colleagues got a great deal of material and political support from both Bolshevik Russia and the Islamic world. Bolshevik Russia was supporting the establishment of full Turkish sovereignty over the Straits and a complete British withdrawal. But as historian Stefan Yerasimos said, Turkey disappointed Russia at Lausanne by agreeing with Western forces and coming close to the British view on the Straits! Ankara was right to agree with Britain at Lausanne, instead of confronting Russia alone in the Straits and the Black Sea. Later, we joined NATO. History shows that if Russia pursues superpower policies which raise concern in the region, this will lead to the formation of alliances against it! Turkey and Ukraine sending immediate humanitarian aid to Georgia demonstrates this. The West should make it clear that if Russia follows such policies, it will face economic repurcussions. Russia should instead pursue policies of friendship and cooperation. Of course, this is what Turkey wants.

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