Georgia Paying Price for Being Russia’s Neighbour/ Georgia near War

Russia, Georgia clash in breakaway statelet
The Christian Science Monitor

The diplomats may still be talking of peace, but from the front line deep inside the pro-Moscow breakaway republic of South Ossetia, a long-feared war between Russia and NATO-leaning Georgia appears to be under way.
At stake are Russia’s already strained relations with the West, which backs Georgia, as well as Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili’s hopes of leading his country into the NATO alliance within the next year. An extended conflict might also hit global energy prices, if a crucial pipeline that carries Caspian oil and gas through Georgia to Western markets should be threatened. 
Both sides blamed the other for starting the conflict. 
Moscow has long supported South Ossetia and another Georgian rebel statelet, Abkhazia, and maintains a contingent of peacekeeping troops in both. The two republics won de facto independence through bitter civil wars in the early 1990s, and have since lived in legal limbo, unrecognized by the world community, which supports Georgia’s claim of sovereignty over the whole territory of Soviet-era Georgia. 
But two key developments have pushed these formerly “frozen conflicts” into the spotlight in recent months. The West’s backing for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia earlier this year, over Russian objections, created what Moscow calls a precedent for other breakaway territories. And the US-backed push to expand NATO into the former Soviet Union, taking in Ukraine and Georgia, has met ferocious resistance in Moscow. For Russia, the existence of breakaway territories in Georgia is a prime argument, frequently repeated by Mr. Medvedev to Western leaders, against Georgia’s admission to NATO. 
The diplomats may still be talking of peace, but from the front line deep inside the pro-Moscow breakaway republic of South Ossetia, a long-feared war between Russia and NATO-leaning Georgia appears to be under way.

Russia is asking for trouble in Georgia
Financial Times

Mr Saakashvili does not want to take on Moscow. But Mr Putin (and Dmitry Medvedev, his anointed successor) seem to want to prove two things: that Georgia is far too unstable to join Nato, and that they alone can determine the future of the former Soviet space. They are right that neither the US alone, nor the Nato allies, would dream of intervening in a military confrontation. But Georgia is only unstable because of Russian policies. Encouraging secessionists sends a terrible signal to others inside Russia, especially in the rebellious north Caucasus. Moscow’s policy may be macho, but in the long run it will be utterly self-defeating.
Georgia pays price for its Nato ambitions

The outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Georgia is really about Nato, the West and spheres of influence

While the world watched China’s pyrotechnical tour de force at the opening of the Beijing Olympics, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia was making a plaintive appeal for Western help against Russian military aggression. One fact is clear: the Kremlin’s troops would not be in South Ossetia today if Georgia were a loyal ally. Instead, Mr Saakashvili is paying the price for his pro-Western foreign policy and, in particular, his ambition to join Nato. 
Georgia’s crime, as seen from the Kremlin, is to have espoused the values preached by the West and to have dared say that it wants to choose its own friends. 
To be sure, Mr Saakashvili damaged his own reputation by his suppression of opposition dissent last November, but in the post-Soviet world of authoritarianism and rampant state corruption, Georgia remains one of the few pinpricks of light. 
Georgia now stands on the very brink of a grotesquely uneven conflict with a resurgent Russia itching to flex its muscles and burning with post-imperial hubris. The chosen causus belli is South Ossetia, which fought a separatist war with Georgia in 1992 and has enjoyed the support of Russia ever since. 
So much so, that Russia has spent the intervening years handing out Russian passports to any South Ossetian who cares to have one. These are the people who Dmitry Medvedev had in mind on Thursday when he said that as president of the Russian Federation, he was obliged to defend the lives of Russian citizens wherever they were. 
Russian forces form part of a self-styled “peacekeeping force” in South Ossetia – but are seen by the Georgians as anything but neutral or interested in peace. As far as Georgia is concerned, the Russian troops are not mediators but an active party to the conflict. 
The Russian presence has been a protracted exercise in cynicism – while its armed forces crushed the life out of separatism in Chechnya, its “peacekeepers” have propped up separatist regimes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 
Moscow’s diplomacy has been no less dishonest. All efforts to achieve a lasting peace in South Ossetia, by offering a degree of automony and a federal relationship with Georgia’s central government, have been conducted under the auspices of the Joint Control Commission (JCC). This body, estabilished in the 1990s, includes representatives from Russia and its two proxies, North and South Ossetia, as well as Georgia. 
It has long been clear that the JCC, which is dominated by Russia, is never going to agree to a peace agreement remotely acceptable to Georgia. But matters like peace, self-determination or territorial integrity have never been the real issue for Russia in the southern Caucasus. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s