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Russia, Georgia and the War without a Winner

07.08.2009
Manfred Quiring

A year after the war in the South Caucasus he parties involved in the warrecall the  people killed. The war greatly affected both sides. Georgia’s joining NATO has become a more remote possibility. Russia’s position on the international level has become turbulent.

The situation  between Georgia and Russia continues to be tense a year after the war in the South Caucasus. 

What was happening in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, in the evening of August 10 last year was unusual. Despite the fact that 3 days earlier the Georgian army fired weapons in the town of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia and the Russian army bombed Georgian cities, Tbilisi was bathing in light colors, as if it were just another calm summer evening and nothing was happening. Thousands of people were moving to Rustaveli Ave, the main street of Tbilisi. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was leading.  He informed the Georgian people that they (Georgians) had defeated Russia.

Today, a year after the war, Saakashvili speaks about the “victory” in the war. He eloquently led the table to which he invited foreign journalists. Russia had not reached its goal and it could not defeat Georgian democracy, he told the journalists. He did not even stop eating food and drinking wine when he was saying this. Is it not  a great success? Is it not  “his success” as he was trying to indicate ? But the truth is that his country survived  being destroyed by Russia. The Russian army was standing  40 kilometers from Tbilisi on August 12. When Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France signed a cease-fire agreement in Moscow with Russian president Dimitri Medvedev the Georgian army had already left the battle field.

Saakashvili can speak about the “victory” but the opposition reaches other conclusions: the Georgian army showed incompetence during the war despite the fact that the state had spent a lot of money on the military armament. They (Georgian army) could not resist the Russian 46th army that was fighting with half force. The Provinces of Abkhazia and Ossetia which the Georgian government had wanted to be returned are lost for good. Georgian aspiration for NATO membership became an issue for a rather distant future. As a result of the war providing shelters to new IDPs has become the important issue.

A year later Russia seems to have been a winner in the August. Russia stopped Georgian integration into NATO with a short-term war, placed thousands of soldiers in the South Caucasus and showed the neighboring countries that the Russian Empire is ready to use military troops to defend its interests. However, the demonstration of its force has not brought completely the desired result to Russia: After the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia’s international image has definitely changed for the worse.  No state except Nicaragua joined Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetias.. Even close allies of Russia did not support the decision. For instance, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, did not support Russia’s position.

Russia has damaged its international reputation with the recognition of these two separatist regions. Russia frightens many European countries since the Russia-Georgian war. According to Dmitry Oreshkin, a Russian political expert, Russia has lost its positive image in the world. Europeans lost confidence in Russia due to gas supply related problems. Amid these facts, the call of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs on the international level for “the new geopolitical map, after the August events” i.e. for the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia sounded weak.

Translated by Nona Salagaia

Original article

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