'Special Report' Panel Discusses Russia's Crude Intentions in Bombing Georgia and Ukrain'e Role in all of This

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 12, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Georgians having agreed to a ceasefire. The Russians need to stop their military operations, which they have apparently said that they will, but those military operations really do now need to stop, because calm needs to be restored.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I don't think Moscow will be in the mood not only to hold talks but even to speak to Saakashvili. He has committed crimes against our citizens. Our position is that Mr. Saakashvili can no longer be our partner. He better quit.

MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI, GEORGIAN PRESIDENT: They don't want Abkhazia, nor Zimbali(ph), not even Georgia, they just don't want the freedom, and that's why they want to stamp on Georgia and destroy it.


BRET BAIER: There you see all sides. Today Russia's president Dimitry Medvedev called for a halt in military operations inside Georgia, but as we saw in Steve Harrigan's piece earlier, the bombing continued for most of the day.

For the second night in a row in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, tens of thousands of people took to the streets for a protest for Russian troops to get out of their country.

Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili was alongside the Ukrainian president Leshenko, in a message to Russia to get out and don't threaten the sovereign integrity of Georgia.

Some analytical observations about all of this from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Jeff Birnbaum, columnist for The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Charles, let start with the easy first question-do we have a sense now-it's not so easy, actually-why Russia went in the first place?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think Putin has a lot of ambitions here. It starts with detaching the two provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia and incorporating it into Russia. They may achieve that in whole or in part.

But the larger issue, as we saw in the statement of the Russian foreign minister, they want to get rid of the existing democratic, pro- western government.

And that would be a real prize. A, it would be a reminder to all the states in the region that being a friend of America and the west and asking for admission to Nato could cost you your life and your independence.

Secondly, it would give — if the government collapses and is replaced with a puppet, that will give Russia control of Georgia, and Georgia is the only outlet from the Caspian Sea which is not under Russian control.

The Caspian has a lot of oil and gas. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan are dependent on those exports. Right now, there is a pipeline through Georgia to the Black Sea which escapes Russian control.

If Russia had control of Georgia, it would have control of all of the outlets. So it would have the Caspian states under its thumb as the producers, and it would have Europe under its thumb as consumers. And that's a big prize.

BAIER: John McCain talked about that today in his interview with Carl Cameron, saying this is, in part, an energy grab — Jeff?

JEFF BIRNBAUM, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think I would emphasize that part here.

I see the grabbing of those two provinces including South Ossetia, as an excuse for the Russians for their grander ambitions, which I think, at heart, have everything to do with energy.

This Caspian Sea pipeline was shut down this week because of these attacks, which is really an important warning to anyone who may want to threaten Russian primacy on the oil issue.

And Russia is now a world power because it has so much oil. Gasprom, its oil arm, is the largest company in the world. The most important company in the world, in fact, these days, and Russia is a power because of it.

In fact, the entire geopolitical situation in the world has changed because those countries that have oil are the ones that now are the superpowers, and Russia is flexing its muscle.

BAIER: Fred, you heard the Secretary of State talking about a possible cease-fire and urging both sides to do that. Who would monitor a cease-fire, number one? Number two, are there other things the U.S. can be doing now to spur this thing along?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Sure, there are a lot of things the U.S. can do now. Unfortunately, the peacekeepers that are in those two breakaway provinces, a lot of them are Russian soldiers or KGB agents, who were there as the peacekeepers beforehand. You have to make sure they are not there.

And then, of course, as we've noted, I love the Russian idea of a ceasefire. That means their enemy stops firing and they continue!

Look, look, here's the first thing we have to do is, one, support Saakashvili as the elected democratic president of Georgia and not flinch at all when you hear the Russians talking about they're going to charge him with crimes against humanity and against Russians and so on.

You have to completely reject that and then begin almost immediately military aid to help rebuild the Georgian military, and economic aid to help their economies. Those are stretches that have to be taken immediately. But first, they have to back the president.

BAIER: Quickly, Charles, is it possible Russia would feel embattled by how they have managed to deal with this week, and possibly do something in Ukraine?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think they would be tempted, but I think if there is a pushback on the part of the west, they will hesitate.

The Ukrainians have to be careful. As you said, the president of Ukrainian showed up in Tbilisi, which would only anger the Russians, showing his independence and solidarity.

But the Ukrainians have also hinted that they may prevent the Russian ships in the Black Sea that are in port in the Ukrainian area, Crimea, from returning to port. If that happens, it would be a provocation that could start a war.

The Ukrainians ought not talk about that, to be quite quiet now, to give rhetorical support, but not tempt Russians into a second attack.

We ought to extend our umbrella over Ukraine and declare that an attack on Ukraine is an attack on NATO.

BAIER: Last word on this panel.

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