Despite President Sarkozy’s initiative to lead the EU in a united stand against Russia in the aftermath of that country’s military intervention in Georgia, and its de facto theft of South Ossetia and Abkhazia through occupation and unilateral recognition, it is clear to leaders in the Kremlin that a divided Europe, once again, will enable them to go back to the future of 19th Century power politics.

Up to its age-old tricks again, Russia, on the one hand, claims to be acting in good faith when it comes to agreements in international law – it signed UN resolution 1808 this April reaffirming the territorial integrity of Georgia – while then having no problem taking its brutal contradictory unilateral actions just a few months later. More disturbingly, the Russian government makes no secret about its “privileged interests” in any and all regions neighboring its borders and has made clear to all that its future actions in those regions, “but not only there”, will depend upon “our friends and partners in the international community – they have a choice.” The bellicose big stick is out and swinging for spheres of influence, in other words.

And unfortunately for the non-NATO countries bordering Russia, and a few of the new NATO-countries as well, this choice “they have” has once again been made, albeit tacitly. Despite Sarkozy’s tough talk, anyone willing to listen will quickly hear how little most of Europe cares about the fate of Georgia and those countries which now could follow its fate. Germans, for instance, have long made no qualms about their reluctance to let Georgia and Ukraine become members of NATO, and this has even led some observers to see this policy as having giving Russia the green light for unleashing the Georgian conflict to begin with. And the growing economic concerns throughout Europe, not to mention the reckless, home-grown dependency to Russian gas Europe has let itself become addicted to, has not exactly increased European willingness to point out Russian shortcomings in the Caucasus and stand united against them.

A lack of will and unity, as so often throughout European history, has once again established itself for the world to see, not unlike the atavistic Russian tendencies that have once again broken out and are being diligently ignored by the rest of us. Despite the personal assurance given President Sarkozy by President Medvedev that Russian troops will be withdrawn from Georgia, Europe has shown again its unwillingness to impose sanctions when sanctions are in order (do any of you remember Iran?) and has paraded itself as paper tiger again.

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