Despite suggestions by analysts like Sergey Markedonov that the 2008 Russian-Georgia war is over, Moscow’s aggression against Georgia which began long before 2008 shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
Indeed, as the tenth anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has openly threatened Georgia with disastrous consequences if it continues its efforts to join NATO, and polls show that Russians accept the Kremlin’s version of events that Georgia, not Russia, is responsible for the conflict.
According to a new Levada Center poll, in fact, only one Russian in 20 thinks that Moscow was responsible for the 2008 conflict and its consequences, even though the facts of the case are that Russian forces invaded and occupied Georgian territory rather than the other way around.
Russian economist and commentator Andrey Illarionov offers a useful list of ten reasons why those like Markedonov who argue that the war is over are wrong and why the war continues and is likely to continue well into the future. These include:
- Markedonov et al refuse to call the war what it in fact was, “a Russian-Georgian war,” lest by doing so they call attention to the “aggressive” nature and continuing quality of the conflict.
- They act as if the war is “finished” when in fact there has been no peace agreement and when in fact after the more open phase of the war was concluded, Russian military forces have taken over control of an additional 103 Georgian villages.
- Such people invariably seek to equate the situation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with that of Kosovo, which they argue is “a precedent” for what Moscow did, even though the situation is entirely different and even though Kosovo has attracted near total international recognition while Abkhazia and South Ossetia have not.
- They ignore Russian military actions after the ceasefire, actions that have expanded Russia’s zone of control on Georgian territory.
- Such analysts equate Russia’s military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia with those of the US and the EU in Georgia, ignoring the fact that Russian now “occupies 20 percent of Georgia’s territory” while neither the US nor the EU has established a single base in Georgia.
- Markedonov and his kind engage in blaming the victim by arguing that Tbilisi was responsible for the war even though it did not invade anyone and Russia was somehow an innocent bystander even though it did.
- They suggest that Georgia fired the first shot even though investigations show that it was Russia not Georgia that did so.
- Markedonov et al, Illarionov says, talk about changing borders with such ease that they fail to recognize that their words highlight Russian imperial views that the borders of all neighboring states are up for grabs if Moscow thinks they are.
- They implicitly suggest that more border changes are thus ahead, not only in Georgia but elsewhere as well.
- And such writers ignore the reality that whatever problems Georgia and the other “new states” have with democracy, their achievements in that sector are far greater than are those of Russia which is a democracy in name only.
In concluding his article, Illarionov says that “the Russian-Georgian war of course will end. But it will end not as those in today’s Kremlin suppose. It will end with the signing of a peace treaty between free Russia and free Georgia about the restoration of an internationally recognized border between the two countries.”
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