Foreign and Defense Policy, Europe and Russia

The forgotten war

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s been five years this week since Putin’s Russia invaded Georgia. And if the lack of references to that anniversary in the major news and media outlets is any indication, then this is indeed the forgotten war.

Actually, a more accurate statement is that it’s the forgotten war in Washington and the major capitals of Europe. Almost certainly, it is far from forgotten in Moscow, Kiev, the capitals of Eastern Europe and, of course, Tbilisi.

Some things are forgotten because they are not important. But some things are “forgotten” because we would rather not remember them. The Russian-Georgian war undoubtedly falls into the latter category.

From the very start of the Rose Revolution in November 2003, Georgia’s new leaders were determined to put Georgia on a path of integration with the democratic West, including membership in NATO and the European Union. In turn, the EU and NATO teased Tbilisi with those prospects, allowing talks to go forward, but never conclude, while at the same time accepting Georgia’s military help in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Having consolidated power in Russia, Putin was determined to put an end to Georgia’s “provocations” and show the West just how powerful he was and, in turn, how weak in fact NATO and the EU were. And with less than a week’s worth of war, he proved his point. There was no effort on the part the Bush administration or Brussels to assist Georgia materially and there was no threat made by the West to punish Putin for his decision to invade and occupy parts of Georgia.

There is probably no direct connection between Moscow’s decision to give Edward Snowden asylum and the Russian victory over Georgia in August 2008, but it can’t help be the case that, if Putin could get away with murder then, he’s hardly worried about the repercussions of giving an American traitor a home now.

7 thoughts on “The forgotten war

  1. Three times the people of South Ossetia have fought, and won, against the Georgians. They declared their independence in 1992, just like Georgia did. Yet Georgia felt it had the right to annex the territory (And why? Does anyone in the west ask such questions?). Saakashvili made it a campaign promise in 2004 to bring South Ossetia under Georgia rule once again. Except the people of South Ossetia despise Georgia, and would rather die than be under Georgian rule.

    Enter NATO and the West. From 2004 the West began pouring military resources into Georgia. In June 2008, Saakashvili even put on a big military parade in T’bilisi. Drunk with power, he soon launched an invasion into South Ossetia to regain the territory. Yes, even the Europeans have acknowledged that GEORGIA INVADED SOUTH OSSETIA. Russia countered hard (as they should have), and stopped a potential genocide.

    South Ossetia is independent, and should be recognized as such by the international community. When the press says that Russia refuses to leave Georgia, the truth is that Russia refuses to leave South Ossetia, and rightfully so, because the people of South Ossetia know that only Russia stands between them and a massacre at the hands of Georgia.

    Although the western media tries to paint Russia as the bad guy, the real question remains: why does the west and NATO continue to antagonize Russia via proxy? How do they expect Russia to respond? And why was it OK for NATO to send “peacekeepers” to Kosovo, but it’s not OK for Russia to send in peacekeepers to South Ossetia?

    • It is clear that the people on this site do not like questions like yours. Since South Ossetia is not in the American sphere of influence the commentators at AEI has no problem with Georgia’s invasion. But when the Russians take a stand against Georgia’s invasion they are somehow the bad guys.

  2. This article is useless, and worse. Georgia under Saakashvili was determined to reconquer the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia ala Serbia and Kosovo. Like the Kosovars, the Abkazians and Ossetians resisted and called the Russians in to help.

    Why is it ok for the US and NATO to intervene in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc but Russia cannot do the exact same thing in Georgia?

    Hypocrisy much?

    • My previous comment should have said like the Kosovars *did with NATO and the US* the Abkazians and Ossetians resisted an d called the Russians in to help.

      Apologies for the confusion.

  3. There was no effort on the part the Bush administration or Brussels to assist Georgia materially

    I don’t know if that’s true.
    Bush had more US Navy ships in the Black Sea than Russia did.

    He didn’t get all warmongery and belligerent, but he did let Putin know that he was watching.

    • The Montreux Convention (1936) highly restricts naval deployments.

      The USN observes this convention — even though the US has not signed on, formally.

      The primary counter-pressure came by way of Paris, not DC, and it was diplomatic and economic.

  4. I see that Moscow is still conducting information operations on their Georgian project.

    ====

    There was NEVER any prospect that the West, or portion thereof, was going to challenge Moscow WRT Georgia.

    The land in contention (to the west) is a security buffer for the billionaire Russians club: Sochi.

    For those unaware: Sochi has been the traditional vacation land for EVERY Soviet party chairman man since Brezhnev. There’s even an astounding photo, from Sochi, that has these fellows lined up — in the exact order of succession — the first time Gorby was invited to the playground.

    The other strip of ground is deemed essential by Moscow as a launching pad for any future campaigns against the TURKS.

    The Russians have been at war with the Turks off and on for over one-thousand years. The Turks fled to Anatolia (from Russia) in the Eleventh Century. For the longest time, the Turks ruled most of the Black Sea coast.

    Putin’s interest in Syria entirely turns on containing the Turks.

    The Turk’s cousins are a totally enclosed, repressed, minority deep inside Russia. There’s not a whole lot of love lost.

    The latest dust-up in Turkey (the riots) is an odd-on bet to be a product of the First Directorate of the SVR. (nee KGB) It’s directly coupled to the Syrian situation, of course.

    Erdogan is a fanatic islamist. Putin wants to take him down. Barry regards Erdogan as his Best Friend Forever. THIS, not Snowden, is the issue that has Barry crying.

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