Daniel Johnson: One thing that struck me about recent events is the interesting juxtaposition of President Medvedev describing President Saakashvili as a political corpse, which I take to mean that he doesn't really recognise the legitimacy of the Georgian government any more, and US Vice-President Cheney in Georgia announcing that the Russians have got to get out of the third of the country they are occupying. So there's a complete non-meeting of minds there, and it does begin to resemble a new Cold War. The question is: how should we be reacting to this situation? Europe has played it very softly-softly?.?.?.
Edward Lucas: The Russians have won the war in Georgia. Now there is the question of whether they will win the peace as well. And so far they think they're winning, because the reaction from Europe has been pretty weak, and they feel that the trade relations they've got with France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary will sustain them.
Mary Dejevsky: Britain?
EL: It hasn't worked in the case of Britain, but they've got a camp in the EU and in Nato which sees Russia as an important partner and has not yet decided to change the way it thinks, and so that hobbles both the EU and the Nato reaction. The Americans have a lame-duck president and are not in any real position to act unilaterally.
Probably the biggest miscalculation the Russians made was to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia because that alienated potential and existing allies in Europe: the Greeks are twitchy about it because of Cyprus, the Spanish are because of the Basque and the Catalans. Most seriously, it alienated the Chinese, and this is after eight years during which Putin has assiduously cultivated the Chinese and tried to build up the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation [SCO] with the central Asian states as a counterweight to American world power. And finally Russia actually did something, and there's not just a deafening lack of support from the SCO but a deliberate, very clear snub from the Chinese.
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