Georgia on Brink of War?
Russia’s “new” government is just like the old one, it seems, and it is ramping up tensions in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that it could further increase its peacekeeping forces in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, where the threat of renewed fighting increased international alarm. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, meanwhile, said the threat of war with Russia remained high, and the possibility of open conflict was very real just a few days ago.
Western-leaning Georgia and breakaway Abkhazia are at the center of struggle between Moscow and the West for influence in the strategically located South Caucasus. And as Georgia pushes aggressively for NATO membership and tries to draw closer to the United States, tensions have grown dramatically in recent months.
Russian peacekeepers, which have served in Abkhazia since the region broke away from Georgian control in the 1990s, are an irritant in relations between Moscow and Georgia. A recent increase in Russian forces has drawn criticism from the United States and European Union.
This is a rather odd summary of events. It reads as if Russia simply showed up, rather than being an active player in establishing a breakaway republic, and is just trying to keep peace.
While denying Georgia a membership action plan (MAP) in the recent Bucharest summit, as the United States had strongly urged, NATO nonetheless declared that Georgia would be a member in the future. The only reason MAP was denied was to appease Russia. One wonders what the play will be now that appeasement has failed.