Russia's Next Target
Could Be Ukraine
September 10, 2008; Page A15
Perhaps the most urgent question in the world affairs today is whether Russia's invasion and continuing occupation of Georgia was a singular event. Or was it the onset of a distinct, and profoundly disturbing, national security and foreign policy agenda?
Much as one would like to cling to the former theory, the evidence favors the latter. A European delegation led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy did manage this week to get assurances that Russian troops would withdraw from Georgia (excepting Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose independence Moscow says is "irrevocable"). But ultimately, this short war is likely to be remembered as the beginning of a decisive shift in Russia's national priorities. The most compelling of these new priorities today seems to be recovery of the assets lost in the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, which Vladimir Putin has called the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century."