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Simes: Russian Military Pushing its Own Agenda

Dmitri Simes, who usually only says very positive things about Russian authoritarianism under Putin, tells the Financial Times that during the war in Georgia there were numerous cases of military officers exceeding their mandate and acting beyond the reach of public accountability. Internally in Russia, this is a daily experience with anyone who has happened to deal with a disagreement with anyone in the security or justice apparatus.

The result is an almost intractable situation on the ground in Georgia, with Russian troops ensconced in a huge swathe of the country’s territory, outside the disputed enclaves which they ostensibly entered to save from Georgian attack. (…) “You have two people who are in charge, one who has full constitutional legitimacy, another has a lot of practical authority, and it would be strange indeed if it did not create an area of ambiguity about who tells who what village to occupy, and how far their patrols are supposed to go. The military is using this area of uncertainty to push their own agenda. They feel proud and a little too euphoric for Russia’s own good,” said Dmitri Simes, head of the Washington-based Nixon Center, who has been in Moscow speaking to Russian leaders this week.