Calling the Same Thing White Today and Black Tomorrow: Is Russia Poised to Annex South Ossetia?

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Calling the Same Thing White Today and Black Tomorrow: Is Russia Poised to Annex South Ossetia?

January 21, 2015 (Source: http://www.fpri.org)

by John R. Haines

I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it.  Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo.  Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote.  They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged.  Over what?  The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were.  For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed.  Again, one wonders why.

We keep hearing from the United States and Western Europe that Kosovo is some special case.  What makes it so special in the eyes of our colleagues?  It turns out that it is the fact that the conflict in Kosovo resulted in so many human casualties.  Is this a legal argument?  The ruling of the International Court says nothing about this.  This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism.  One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow.

                                                                                                                            –President Vladimir V. Putin, 18 March 2014

Russia and the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia[1] — which declared itself independent from Georgia in 1990 — in December completed a draft treaty “of alliance and integration” which some analysts believe could lead to South Ossetia’s de facto annexation within a matter of days or weeks.[2]   This comes less than a year after Russia’s highly contentious annexation of Crimea.

The stated objective of the draft treaty — a copy of which was published online by South Ossetia’s government-controlled OSinform Information Agency[4] — is “to promote all-round cooperation, convergence and integration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia, making the transition to a new level of alliance and strategic partnership.”[5]  Its intentions are unambiguous: “The new agreement is intended to legalize South Ossetia`s integration with Russia,” according to the official State Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia.[6]  According to Anatoly Bibilov, Chairman of South Ossetia’s parliament, “the new agreement between South Ossetia and Russia should be maximally integrative” and lead to “a United Ossetia” which he defined as “Two countries – one Ossetia.”[7]  Taimuraz Mamsurov, head of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania — a Russian Federation republic bordering South Ossetia — unsurprisingly called the draft treaty “a landmark, historic opportunity to make a big step towards integration with Russia.”[8]

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