Posted by: Staff | 01.16.2009

The Russian-Georgian Conflict

MARGARET GREGORY ’10

The conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia has gone on since South Ossetia seceded from Georgia in 1991. Georgia is located in Southwestern Asia between Russia and Turkey and borders the Black Sea. South Ossetia is a mass of land on Georgia’s northern boarder with Russia. Many Russian speaking people live there and are citizens of Russia. South Ossetia is a democratic province and has the support of the United States. South Ossetians wanted to break away from Georgia in 1991 to unite with their comrades in North Ossetia. North Ossetia is an autonomous republic populated by people who South Ossetians are more ethnically similar to than they are to Georgians. Georgia did not respect South Ossetia’s secession to become its own province; as a result, Georgia launched an aerial bombardment and military ground attacks on August 7, 2008. Russia, trying to protect its citizens, dropped thousands of troops into South Ossetia to bomb the rest of Georgia. Russia’s involvement sparked a large controversy on the greater world stage.There are two main reasons why Russia became involved in this conflict: Russia has peacekeepers based in South Ossetia that were killed in the Georgian attacks and over 70,000 Russian citizens are living in South Ossetia. President Medvedev has promised, “to continue to defend the lives and dignity of its citizens, wherever they are located.” Russia’s involvement has caused the United States to re-examine its relationship with Russia as a partner within the international system. The Unites States called Russia’s military action “an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change the country’s borders by force”. Some of Georgia’s neighboring countries are more divided over which side to support. In Brussels, some states are pushing for sanctions against Russia, hoping to isolate the country. The European Union criticized Russia’s actions and voted for Russia to meet the terms of the French-brokered ceasefire and suspend talks of a new partnership.

Russia boasts one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Russia poses a massive threat to other countries including the US. Although Medvedev has denied the he has any intentions to engineer another Cold War, he says that he is not afraid of starting one. Russia’s brutal treatment to the Georgian people has been a “rude awakening” for many Americans when considering Russia’s intentions said Vice President, Dick Cheney. Bush has warned Russia to “reverse the course it appears to be on.” However, the United States have no telling of what Russia might decide to do in order to “protect” its citizens.

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