General ramblings, Politics

On Russia- Georgia Relations

After Parmanu commented, I realized that there might be readers who don’t really understand what I am talking about. A brief lesson in history might be useful here:

This link from the Economist does a very good job explaining the current situation in details.

This is an interesting note on Russia-Georgia relations that was written by my friend Alexey Dorofeev in his Facebook account. With his permission, I’m reproducing it here:

I was deeply disappointed with the angry Russian bear when staying updated on the recent news in Russia – Georgia conflict. An “elephant vs. a fly” – this is what the press calls it in Moscow. The most recent actions on Russia’s part involved a ban on flights between the two countries, charges against thousands of Georgian people living in Russia, raids on casinos in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the most distracting news to me personally was a request of police authorities to public schools in Moscow to provide information on all the pupils with Georgian surnames. I am very concerned with an obvious discrimination of people based on their ethnicity, which reminds me of the methods used by the tsarist Russian government prior to the revolution.
Methods used by the Kremlin do not go along with the status of the G7/8 member. Neither do they seem appropriate in the light of the world in the era of globalization. It was a great frustration when I could not order a glass of Mukuzani or carbonated mineral water from Georgia this summer. We know that unilateral sanctions do not work in the long-run. Georgia has lost a great share of its exports this year, but as time goes by there will be new markets discovered. Unfortunately, the Russian consumers will be left without the wine they have been used to since the old Soviet times. In the light of current events the ban on wine and mineral water seems to be a minor issue though.

Is it in the interest of Russia to conduct this kind of foreign policy? The answer is NO. Georgia is not a backyard of Russia. It is a sovereign state, and it has the right to protect its interests according to the international law. Measures taken by the Russian government have demonstrated that it is not looking for a compromise and is willing to put pressure on Georgian government and people, even at the cost of ruining the image of Russia on the international arena.
I was laughing when reading on the news that Russia tried to pass a resolution through the Security Council that would condemn aggressive actions of Georgia in the region. The Russian diplomats in New York probably look like fools; they understand the resolution is not going to pass, but they need to follow the directive from Moscow.
The president of Russia is the one who has a political ideology absolutely opposite from the one of Mr. Saakashvilli and is against Georgia’s accession to NATO and its pro-Western moves. The sad fact is that he himself has created a state in Russia, where the executive has an unlimited authority, and the country’s foreign policy is not an exception. Many people in Russia do understand the danger and absurd of this battle, but since the government is in control of all the Media, it is not very difficult to influence the public opinion. Three years ago Mr. Khodorkovskiy has become the only one of the many tycoons to become an enemy of the authorities; he was charged with hundreds of accusations, and is now in prison. The image of the country suffered dramatically, very much like this winter during the gas conflict with Ukraine. Out of many states of the former Soviet Union that are not friends with Russia any more, Georgia has been selected to be attacked. The public still remembers the tools the government was using in the Yukos campaign. If the Kremlin sticks to the strategy of ‘ends justify the means’, the conflict with Georgia is not going to be resolved any time soon. The leader of Georgia is not going to change his policy because of Russia’s pressure. However, it is absolutely unclear what ‘the ends’ are. So far this conflict did not do any good neither to Russia, nor Georgia, but has negatively affected lives of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

On a side note, I agree with what Alex has to say over here. I have always fostered great respect for Russia and the current situation is a cause for  concern. Any thoughts?
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4 thoughts on “On Russia- Georgia Relations

  1. well considering this conflict is not in the headlines (at least recnet days), may be a brief description of the actual conflict or a link to it could be useful.
    I didnt get any information from here what exactly about the Georgian policy is bothering Russia.
    Although the thoughts presented are quite well written.

  2. Russian mineral water is not as good. Also, I like to have a choice when I am shopping in the supermarket. The quality of Russian bottled mineral water is going down without a decent competition. To be honest, the Russians are good at making vodka, but mineral water has always been the niche of Georgians

    Mr. Dorofeev

  3. Situation is similar like Indo-Pak only diff is India is not taking any stand any more, I still remember when we almost gone to War after Parliament attack. India and Pakistan both closed their embassy and asked their staff to return back to respective country.

    Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have become increasingly tense after Saakashvili came to power following Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution.

    Since then both the governments busy in accusing each other. One main I understand that Georgia is Pro-Western is not because of they want to go with western countries but because they want Russia to end their military bases in Georgia. Russia maintains two military bases in Georgia as Soviet-era holdovers. One is to be closed in 2007 and the other a year later.

    Georgia is trying hard to force Russia to withdraw its peacekeepers. (Russian peacekeepers also have been deployed to Georgia’s separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that have enjoyed de facto independence after breaking away in bloody wars in the early 1990s.)

    Situation is not going to solve in this way. Georgia Know it very well that they cant survive if they goes out of Russian orbit, this is one main reason of Georgia joining NATO and asking EU to put pressure on Russia in return of NATO Bases in Georgia. Of course Russia won’t like NATO base in neighbor country, like for example India or any other country won’t allow any NATO bases in their neighboring countries because of spying.

    If any of the countries is interested in solving long running crisis then should sit and talk, Russia is not a small country or week who can easily bow in front of any sort of pressure. Bilateral issue should be solved by talks not putting any sort of pressure of accusations.

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