The History of Conflict between Russia and Georgia

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Response Paper 1 POLI 244 Why did Russia invade Georgia?

In August 2008, Russia and Georgia went to a brief war over the control of South Ossetia. It was Russia’s first war against another state since the collapse of the Soviet regime. Russia and Georgia have a history of conflict. During the breakup of the Soviet Union, the question of control over the region of South Ossetia was never resolved to all parties’ satisfaction. The South Ossetians were part of a different ethnic group than the Georgians, so they did not want to be part of the same country. This led to a similar war in 1991, which resulted in an uneasy peace in the region. From this peace treaty, South Ossetia and Abkhazia each became semiautonomous republics that still remained under Georgian control. The situation remained calm until Mikhail Saakashvili came into power. Saakashvili was pro-Western and wanted to join NATO. He increased military spending and tried to regain control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The situation deteriorated from there. Even though the Cold War ended, USA supported Turkey, as a counterbalance to Russia’s influence in the South Caucasus but then, due to rapidly growing ties between Ankara and Moscow, the USA stepped in to act as an offshore balancer via NATO expansion. This paper claims that Russia’s response to Georgia’s military operation in South Ossetia was not spontaneous, but a well- calculated step to re-establish its hegemony in the South Caucasus. Russia has historically been motivated by the need to protect itself from attack, by establishing buffer zones from surrounding small...
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