War in the Caucasus

2008-08-15 00:00

The collapse of the Soviet empire in the early nineties can be likened to an earthquake and this week’s war between Russia and Georgia to a strong aftershock. The Russians, ostensible peacekeepers in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia since 1994, have now effectively annexed both it and the larger autonomous region of Abkhazia.

Russia’s economic prospects are poor apart from its abundant energy reserves, a resource it has shown a willingness to use to achieve foreign policy objectives. An independent-minded Georgia thus provides another frustration: it is the corridor for a pipeline from Azerbaijan via Turkey to Europe that diminishes Russian control of regional fuel supplies.

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