What Russia Hopes To Gain From Conflict

Masha Lippman, a Washington Post columnist and political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, talks to Andrea Seabrook about what Russia is hoping to gain from the conflict in Georgia.

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

The conflict between Russia and Georgia has had a big impact on Russia's relationship with the United States. To get the view from Moscow we called Masha Lipman. She's a columnist for the Washington Post and a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Ms. MASHA LIPMAN (Columnist, Washington Post; Political Analyst, Carnegie Moscow Center): What it means for the big picture I think is Russia for the first time during its post-Communist development is projecting military force outside its territory, outside its borders. And this of course cannot be overestimated. Also what we see in today's world, the West, the UES did not have any means for the time being to prevent Russia from projecting its force. I think this is really disquieting and this is something that's a reason for very serious concern.

SEABROOK: Today the U.S. says it will introduce a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Russia's before here. This sounds like the Cold War all over again.

Ms. LIPMAN: What we've had over the past years was, has been a steady deterioration of relations between the Russia and the UES - getting worse and worse, these relations were over the past years. But what we're having today is really a dramatic deterioration from even the low levels that we had several days ago.

Because now, Georgia of course is a close ally of the United States, its military being trained by the United States. And now Russia is using its military force in a Georgian territory.

SEABROOK: You're in Moscow. How's this playing out there?

Ms. LIPMAN: Knowing how the Russian public opinion is, in general, I mean, I guess there will be an overwhelming approval of Russian action in Georgia. Georgia has been regarded very negatively by the Russian public opinion. Actually in some polls, it's ranking as number one Russian enemy. The Georgian president is regarded as an adventurist and an arrogant puppet of the United States, totally despised in Russia, regarded as a president who tried to provoke Russia, who was baiting Russia. So now that Russia is retaliating, I think the Russian people, at least the majority, the vast majority of the Russian people will approve Russia's behavior.

SEABROOK: Does the way this conflict unfolded reveal anything about the power relationship between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev?

Ms. LIPMAN: Indeed. During this conflict, Prime Minister Putin, from the statements that he has made, he sounded like he was the higher authority compared to the president of the country. And even though formally he's acting on orders of the president, he certainly looked as if the decisions were his. He was the first to appear on Russian television. He certainly has looked through this conflict so far as the person who's taking decisions.

SEABROOK: Masha Lipman is a columnist for the Washington Post and a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. Thanks very much for your time today.

Ms. LIPMAN: My pleasure.

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