Carl Bilt on Russia’s Intervention in Georgia

Quentin Peel’s new column in the Financial Times highlights a very important point made by Carl Bilt, the foreign minister of Sweden:

But what can Georgia’s friends and allies do about it? Mr Putin is calling their bluff. George W. Bush, the US president, poured in military trainers and equipment, backed Nato membership, and now seems powerless to do more than wring his hands. Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, sees it as a critical challenge. “We – and Russia – will have to live with the consequences of Russia’s use of force for a long time to come,” he said at the weekend. “No state has a right to intervene militarily in the territory of another state simply because there are individuals there with a passport issued by that state. The obligation to protect people lies with the state in which those individuals are located. “Attempts to apply such a doctrine have plunged Europe into war in the past – and that is why it is so important that this doctrine is emphatically dismissed.” For Mr Putin, however, such a doctrine plays extremely well at home. He does not really care how it plays abroad. It gets him respect, of a sort, from the barrel of a gun.