Gli USA rischiano l’ira della Russia nell’azione per por fine a lotte intestine in Georgia

WSJ 3/8/05

Matt Bryza, vice sottosegretario di Stato USA, sta portando avanti mediazione su Ossezia del Sud e Abkhazia, regioni secessioniste da Georgia, appoggiate da Russia.

Presidente georgiano Saakashvili: svolta nella politica USA; ruolo USA, che tuttavia deve coinvolgere anche Russia.

USA hanno criticato appoggio Russia ai separatisti (cui dà passaporto e pensioni russe; governo Ossezia composto in maggioranza da cittadini russi).

Saakashvili è riuscito a far rientrare la regione di Ajara (con il consenso della Russia),ma ha dovuto ritirare le truppe dopo un tentativo di piegare militarmente l’Ossezia.

Russia ha accettato di abbandonare le basi militari in Georgia entro il 2008, ma lancia avvertimento agli USA di non schierarsi contro la Russia nella regione.



August 3, 2005; Page A9


TBILISI, Georgia — Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia’s pro-Western president, said he is counting on a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to help him reassert control of two breakaway regions that for more than a decade have resisted Georgian rule.

But the higher U.S. profile in the Caucasus could fuel fresh tensions with Moscow, which long has backed the separatist governments and steadfastly opposed any outside intervention to restore Georgian authority there.
In an interview, Mr. Saakashvili described Washington’s new policy of engagement as a "turning point." "We have a political understanding that something should be done and that there can be some kind of U.S. role," he said. But he stressed any American moves had to be "together with the Russians."  
Georgia long has sought Western help to regain Abkhazia and South Ossetia, regions harboring age-old ethnic and territorial grievances with Tbilisi that fought and won secessionist wars against its forces in the early 1990s.  

U.S. officials confirm the White House intends to play a more active role in ending the conflicts. That demonstrates Washington’s growing commitment to Georgia, a key focus of President Bush’s democratization agenda since a popular revolution there nearly two years brought Mr. Saakashvili to power. During a visit to Tbilisi in May, Mr. Bush told cheering crowds that Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.
The U.S. has criticized Moscow for backing the separatists, saying they fuel instability. Russia supports the regions economically, has sought to influence elections, and has issued Russian passports and pensions to residents there. Meanwhile, the Ossetian government is largely made up of Russian citizens — who constitute a tiny minority of its population — according to U.S. officials.
But the decision to get more involved in conflict resolution here comes as Washington and Moscow compete openly for influence in other parts of the former Soviet Union. Last week, Uzbekistan evicted the U.S. from a military base that had been crucial to American operations in Afghanistan. The move, which gave a big boost to Russia, followed Washington’s criticism of the May shooting deaths of hundreds of Uzbek protesters in the town of Andijan.
Mr. Saakashvili has made reunification a key priority, but so far his record has been mixed. Last year he brought another insubordinate region, Ajara, back into the fold without bloodshed. Then, last summer, skirmishes broke out in South Ossetia after Georgia sent its army into the region. It later withdrew under international pressure, but has sealed its borders with South Ossetia to curtail smuggling.

 M eanwhile, tensions have continued to rise, both with Russia and the separatist authorities. Last month, Mr. Saakashvili accused "Russian citizens" of organizing a February bomb attack in the Georgian town of Gori that killed three policemen. Russian officials dismiss the allegations.
The interview with Mr. Saakashvili took place after his talks in Tbilisi with Matt Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, who will lead U.S. mediation efforts on Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Georgians recently put forward a detailed peace plan for South Ossetia, though Mr. Saakashvili admitted there is little chance of any immediate progress on Abkhazia.
A senior Bush administration official said any U.S. mediation would closely involve the Russians. "We want to make sure we’re not seen as muscling in where we’re not necessarily wanted," he said.  

Russia has said any resolution must come through peaceful means, and the Kremlin often has worked behind the scenes to achieve peace. It helped broker the deal with Ajara, and in May agreed to withdraw from two Soviet-era bases on Georgian territory by 2008. But officials in Moscow said a greater U.S. role in the region could antagonize Russia. "The U.S. is inclined to take on the view foisted on them by Georgia. It’s not neutral in these conflicts," said Konstantin Zatulin, a Russian lawmaker and foreign-policy expert.

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