Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is Russia Going to Annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

Against the backdrop of the quickly unfolding situation in Ukraine—the annexation of Crimea and the guerrilla war in eastern Ukrainian—there are growing fears in Georgia that Russia will also use similar techniques, including elections or referenda, to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgian politicians and experts are alarmed by the assumption that Russia has the same reasons for adversarial action toward Georgia, as it had in Ukraine. On June 27, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is expected to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union in Brussels. Indeed, according to a commonly held view, Moscow’s openly negative attitude toward post-Soviet states integrating into Western institutions became the primary cause for the catastrophic developments in Ukraine.

Even more infuriating to Moscow is Georgia’s continuing insistence on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Tbilisi hopes to receive a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the September 2014 NATO summit in Wales, and Georgia’s Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania offered to station NATO defense structures on Georgian territory.

Recent events seem to support the view that Moscow is prepared to punish Georgia for moving closer to Europe, by finally annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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