Russian President Medvedev recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states today. Obama’s statement:
“I condemn Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and call upon all countries of the world not to accord any legitimacy to this action,” Obama said.
In his written statement that marked a toughening of his rhetoric toward Russia, Obama also said the United States should call for an immediate meeting of the U.N. Security Council to condemn Moscow’s decision in coordination with European allies.
“The U.S. should lead within the U.N. and other international forums to cast a clear and unrelenting light on the decision, and to further isolate Russia internationally because of its actions,” he said.
Although Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, it could not stop closed-door consultations among the members. It could, however, use its position to block the council from issuing a statement or resolution critical of Russian actions in Georgia.
Those who paid attention would note that Russia isn’t allowing anything of consequence to get through the UN Security Council:
At the UN, Russia’s ambassador said the French-drafted UN resolution went against the terms of the ceasefire brokered by France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy… He also objected to language in the draft reaffirming Georgia’s territorial integrity, saying South Ossetia and Abkhazia did not want to be part of Georgia.
Russia can veto UN resolutions and the ambassador told the BBC that putting the text to a vote would be pointless.
He said: “It’s a waste of time because the process of the withdrawal of Russian forces will continue.”
For the second time in a month, Obama goes to an international organization incapable of acting in any meaningful way to the crisis in Georgia.
By contrast, John McCain’s statement skips the UN and goes to the allies in the region who, bound together, might provide a significant counterweight to the Russian bear.
“Russia today took a significant and negative step in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two separatist Georgian provinces. In April, I warned that Russia was pursuing a policy of de facto annexation that threatened to undermine security and stability in the region. Today’s decision, the culmination of a long effort aimed at splitting these two regions away from Georgia, represents a major step forward in that process. Moscow’s action deserves condemnation from the entire international community, and Russia must understand that its violations of international law carry consequences.
“I also remain deeply concerned about Russia’s continued refusal to comply with the terms of the ceasefire ending hostilities with Georgia. Reports indicate that Russian troops remain around the port city of Poti, a location that has no connection to South Ossetia or even to the ‘buffer zone’ Moscow is attempting to establish around it. Russia’s deployments around Poti seem aimed at maintaining an economic stranglehold over Georgia’s major Black Sea port.
“At a time of high energy prices and instability in global markets, it is important to understand that events in Georgia, part of a strategic energy corridor, affect individual lives far beyond the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. If that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, global energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Moscow’s influence, with serious consequences on the world energy market.
“There are some encouraging signs that our allies are responding to these events. I welcome French President Sarkozy’s convening of an emergency European Union summit next week to discuss the crisis, as well as German Chancellor Merkel’s call for a summit of Caucasus nations to discuss Georgian reconstruction and regional stability. It is critical that these and other discussions are followed by action to chart a path for the reconstruction of Georgia and to ensure its continued independence. Americans have for generations sacrificed for the security of our European partners. Now is the time for the transatlantic community to come together to secure, in concert, the peace for a generation of Americans.
“In addition, I am proud that Cindy is currently visiting Georgia on a humanitarian mission. She has carried out this kind of important work all over the world, and it is clear that the Georgian people are suffering in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion. Given the level of need there, I am proud that she has traveled to that war-torn country at this time.”