Thomas Rapatz


Russia’s military intervention in South-Ossetia as a reaction to the Georgian attack on Zchinvali, and finally the unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South-Ossetia by Russia, the two regions apostate from Georgia, have not only hardened the Russian relationships to the west, but on the other hand have shown that the Kremlin is prepared and able to protect Russian citizens and interests existing in the immediate neighbourhood. Here one can observe that Russia was certainly not impressed by Western measures of dialogue and sanction at all. The long-term consequences of the Georgian attack on South-Ossetia, ending with military defeat caused by Russian measures of intervention, were not only negative effects on Georgian attempts of re-integration of these unilaterally recognized self-governing regions, but also a serious strain on the relationship USA/NATO/EU with Russia. There were already rumours of a return to the Cold War, and in addition to that, the Georgian domestic “Frozen Conflict” had become international again. The events of the conflict with Russia on the one hand led to the loss of the apostate regions South-Ossetia and Abkhazia, and on the other hand left grave marks in the relationships within the community of states. The Russian reaction and the deployment of Russian forces in the Georgian central region led to a massive disgruntlement among the Western allies, and additionally to a distorted relationship between Russia and the USA as well, which became normal not until 2011. Afterwards, Russian foreign and security affairs stressed the protection of the East-European „Cordon Sanitaire“ and the containment of both European and NATO influence in South-Caucasus and the Black Sea region as matters of top priority. „Lessons learned“ by Russia led to a reform of the armed forces which has taken place since 2009, and which will presumably be carried on vehemently if Vladimir Putin is elected new Russian president, although Russian plannings concerning the establishment of mobile task forces on the basis of paratroops and massive investments in new arms - tanks, helicopters, fighters and new missile technology - are certainly not new. The desired financial budget framework for all this will be immense. In the end, however, the political development in the countries of the Black Sea region and the Caucasus are not only influenced by Russian foreign and security affairs, but also by NATO issues of extension and by the European neighbourhood policy concerning this region. Since then the perceptible Georgian foreign and security policy has been coined by the desire to approach NATO and EU and to make independence from Russia irreversible. So it remains to be seen whether the major sporting event, the Olympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sotschi in Russia, will result in further disturbances in the region.