Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Georgia-Russia Conflict: The Direct Impact on Georgia

Part 2 of a 6 part essay on the recent conflict in Georgia, its causes, and its potential implications.

Now, Georgia and the rest of the world will have to deal with the consequences of Russia’s calculations and President Saakashvili’s miscalculation. For Georgia, the short war with Russia has been devastating: thousands of its people have died or have become refugees, and much of its civilian and military infrastructure has been damaged.[1] Worse yet, the status quo now enforced by the Russians, in which Abkhaz and Ossetian separatists control all of their respective regions and Russian “peacekeepers” even patrol a buffer zone a few miles within Georgia proper, is much worse than the one President Saakashvili tried to reverse with last month’s operations.[2]

In addition, the conflict has highlighted some glaring problems in the Georgian military, which seemed to be inadequately trained and was unable to effectively respond to Russian warplanes and tanks in the weeklong period of intense combat. These tactical failures greatly contributed to Georgia’s defeat in a conflict that has thoroughly underscored Georgia’s relative weakness compared to Russia.[3]

Such a sound defeat of Georgia has sent, as the Russians intended, a clear signal to the Caucasus and Eastern Europe that Russia has no qualms about enforcing its will and backing up its statements in stark contrast to the West, which has taken few practical measures to back up its statements and assurances of support. Russia’s neighbors, particularly Ukraine and Azerbaijan, neither of which have acted as much in accord with Russian interests as Russia would have liked, will likely wonder if they might soon face a similar fate as Georgia if they do not comply with Russian demands.

Indeed, Ukraine and Azerbaijan as well as Moldova also have unruly or disputed regions that have historically been backed by Russia, and one cannot help but wonder if Russia might in the future use such territories as windows for influence and intervention as they did with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.


[1] http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-08-27-Georgia-damage_N.htm
[2] http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/09/09/russian-troops.html?ref=rss
[3] http://www.redorbit.com/news/international/1525797/georgian_army_proves_to_be_no_match_for_the_russian/

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1 comment:

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