Fortunately, the war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia has been featuring prominently in western media.
However, I sense that many people have a tendency to let Russia off lightly.
It is worth remembering that South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) legally are parts of Georgia.
Russia are defending their actions by saying they’re defending their citizens, but they’re forgetting to tell the world that they have for many years now been handing out Russian citizenship to anybody from South Ossetia and Abkhazia who applied.
In other words, the situation would be similar to the Netherlands handing out citizenships to all Belgians that would like one and then sending in the military to protect their citizens as soon as the Belgian state tried to assert its authority.
Of course, Russia could only do this because many of the Abkhazians and South Ossetians wanted to be part of Russia, but it still is a worrying way to interfere in other countries. I wonder what Russia would do if Germany, Poland or Lithuania started to hand out citizenships to the inhabitants of Kaliningrad, for instance…
One can also argue that the Abkhazians and South Ossetians should be allowed to decide on their own where their future lies, but Russia hasn’t been very keen on that idea when it came to Chechnia and Kosova.
To sum up, I think the Russians should pull out and revoke the citizenships it has granted to citizens of other states. The UN should then be called upon to arrange referenda on the future of any area that so desires, whether Kosova, South Ossetia or Kurdistan.
Please do also read Edward Lucas’s take on this. Also, this makes it more important than ever to let Georgia join NATO, as The Times argue.
Update: The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have a blog.