Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Russia Legislates Unilateral Intervention

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - APRIL 24: Russian soldiers ma...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The Russian Duma recently passed its first reading of a new amendment to its Law on Defense. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with defense, but a great deal to do with military intervention in its sphere of influence. If enacted (and there is no doubt that the Duma, as ever, will pull out its rubber stamp) the amendment provides for using its military to "protect" Russian citizens outside its borders. History recalls that the Nazi regime in Germany used exactly that pretext for invasion.

Russia has a proclivity handing out passports to citizens of foreign countries. Guess what the reason was for the invasion of Georgia? Leaving aside the unwise provocations by the Georgian government, this is a dangerous new trend in Russian foreign policy and could easily be applied to Ukraine. Russia has handed out thousands of passports to its supporters in Crimea.

It would be unfortunate if Russia resorted to its military again, particularly against Ukraine which, despite a pathetic military, is no Georgia. Additionally, Russia's military is hardly an efficient fighting force having been embarrassed on the ground and in the air in the Georgia conflict (its navy performed very well).

The passage of this amendment would also be aimed at Estonia and the other Baltic States. It is clear Russia would only use its military against far weaker foes, so Russian "citizens" in Poland, Turkey, China and Finland probably should not hope for salvation from the motherland quite yet.

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