Feature

Russia’s new Iron Curtain

How fighting in Georgia marks a turning point for Moscow's relations with the West

“A new Iron Curtain is being drawn around Russia,” said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. By going to war with “NATO-aspirant” Georgia, Moscow sent a clear message that the “eastward march” of Western influence can go no farther. Russia deserves a severe rebuke, but the only way to cool tensions is for the West and Georgia to refuse to play Moscow’s cold-war games.

Too late, said Robert Kagan in The Washington Post. Russia’s attack on sovereign Georgian territory was as significant a turning point as the fall of the Berlin Wall, except this time the world took a step backward. Russia was humiliated by the way the Cold War ended, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, awash in oil wealth, has decided it’s time to restore Russia's “once-dominant role in Eurasia and the world.”

This fight isn’t all Russia’s fault, said Charles King in The Christian Science Monitor. It was Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who ignited this “disastrous and ultimately self-defeating war” by dispatching his troops to take the secessionist enclave of South Ossetia by force. So the West must avoid pointing fingers and “act diplomatically” to get both Georgia and Russia to back down.

It’s dangerously silly to deny that Russia is the problem here, said William Kristol in The New York Times. The good news is that a resurgent and nationalist Russia is not a threat “of the magnitude of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” But it’s still a threat, and ignoring danger doesn’t make it go away.

“The U.S. almost certainly won't be sending troops to this conflict,” said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. “Nor does Washington want to aggravate Moscow, which it hopes will help prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.” But if the U.S. fails to use “forceful diplomacy” to drive Russia back, “years of liberalizing progress in what was the Soviet sphere could well evaporate.”

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