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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Mmm-hmm. ‘Cause this worked _so_ well in Chechnya. I suppose the only potential bright spot is that the horrors they’re about to inflict on that region will continue to keep them from trying to re-establish the old Soviet Empire Putin would obviously dearly love. Hardly outweighs the coming genocide, tho.

  2. Triumph says:

    Georgia on Brink of War?

    Time to fortify Macon!

  3. Michael says:

    The only reason MAP was denied was to appease Russia.

    Well, that and so the rest of the NATO countries wouldn’t have to attack Russian troops if this thing turns into a shooting war.

  4. Cernig says:

    What Michael said. Actually, this proves the MAP was a bad idea since it wouldn’t have suddenly waved a magic wand over the Russia/Georgia feud. Malcolm Rifkin got it exactly right.

    Regards, C

  5. Michael says:

    Suppose Georgia was currently a NATO member, and this thing did come to blows, would the USA be able to contribute to the defense of Georgia given our current deployments?

  6. James Joyner says:

    Suppose Georgia was currently a NATO member, and this thing did come to blows, would the USA be able to contribute to the defense of Georgia given our current deployments?

    If Georgia were a NATO member, Russia would proceed quite differently. But, yes.