Monday, July 21, 2008

A Hot Georgian Summer

I've held off from looking at the rising tensions between Russia and the Republic of Georgia and the Mexican Standoff they find themselves in over Abkhazia (click here for previous blog posts on the ups and downs in tensions). This is mainly because I figured it would end like most other flare-ups have over the last few years - in a flurry of words, but no bullets.

This may be changing.

Stratfor just sent this out:

Georgia: Tensions in the Kodori Gorge
Georgia has put its troops on the border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia on combat alert because Russia is amassing special troops on the edge of the Kodori Gorge, a strategically important area in Abkhazia that is currently under Georgian control. Russia’s troop movements are meant to keep pressure on Georgia, which is dragging out negotiations with its large northern neighbor. Even if the talks began moving quickly, two groups — the Abkhaz and the Svans — have motivations for trying to spoil an agreement between Moscow and Tbilisi...

Just to refresh - there are multiple reasons for Moscow to drop the hammer on Georgia with a punitive expedition of some sort in support of the breakaway regions of Georgia. It could serve as another way to show the Kremlin's displeasure over the ongoing Missile Defense deal that Bush 43 has been pimping out. It could show support for some "allies" and give a little street cred back to the Russians after the beat down on Serbia resulted in Kosovo being sheared off, in the face of Russian antipathy. Maybe they want to threaten the B-T-C pipeline and goose petroleum prices higher - another instance of Russia using the energy sword to shove people around. Or maybe a combination of all the above or other reasons I am not privy to.

As we've said before, it bears watching because Georgia is a fairly stalwart Western ally. I wouldn't expect much more than a large raid in force. Russia doesn't want to occupy ground (at least, I wouldn't think so) given their experience with the Chechens and before that, Afghanistan.

Keep an eye on the situation. The effects could be coming to a gas pump near you.


Jay@Soob said...

It would seem that nato membership can't come quick enough. I wonder, what would a nato response be to Georgian/Russian conflict with Georgia as a member?

A further note of interest, Geogia has committed 400 soldiers to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Flagg707 said...

Amen to the NATO membership, Soob. Great question as to how a conflict would play out then.

I was not aware of the Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan. Thanks for pointing that out. They are going out of their way to not only help the West, but a core group of their soldiers is getting real-world experience in combat zones. Fascinating to watch it play out.

Thanks for the comment.