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14 years have passed since Russia-Georgia August War

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Each anniversary of the August War is a special summary of the past year. Today, it is already clear to everyone that in August 2008 it was not Russia's episodic attack on Georgia, but the open aggression of Putin's regime against the neighboring post-Soviet countries, which he considers to be a preparatory step for victory over the West.

In the West, they clearly realized that the two-pronged response of the West to the August 2008 war and turning a blind eye to aggression only encouraged and made Russia's aggressive policy more extensive. On the 14th anniversary of the August war, Jim Risch, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the world's weak response in 2008 gave Putin a sense of impunity. This emboldened Putin, who has since invaded Ukraine twice, aided Assad in Syria, developed Wagner's mercenary squad, and established de facto control over Belarus.

The position of Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is approximately the same. In an interview with Voice of America, he noted that Georgia was the first country that was attacked by modern Russia. At that time, judging by the reaction to this attack, the world "seemed to be asleep," the West was focused on the fight against terrorism, and many "naively thought" that in the post-Cold War era, Russia was generally still an ally. Such an attitude only encouraged Russia's further aggression.

It is similar to the statement issued by the group of European parliamentarians, which states that "14 years ago, in gross violation of international law, Russia launched an aggressive war against Georgia," the consequences of which are clearly felt throughout Europe. Russian aggression against Georgia went largely unpunished and contributed to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the launch of a full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022. They never hid that the aggressive steps in the 'post-Soviet space' were directed against the West. Dmitry Medvedev, who was the President of Russia in 2008, reappeared on the 14th anniversary of the August War. According to Medvedev, 2008 'was a signal' for the USA and NATO, but the West failed to understand and understand this signal, "continued its extremely dangerous course", and therefore Russia had to give a tougher response in 2022, which "changed the whole world irreversibly." The world, hopefully, has, in fact, 'changed irreversibly' but not in the way Putin wanted. In any case, the war in Ukraine is not going on as the Kremlin wanted.

The announcements made in Georgia were doubled by another anniversary of the August war. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili again blamed the previous government for the August war, according to him, it was "the betrayal of Saakashvili and his team," they killed the country, the people, and the military.

Gharibashvili declared Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region 'occupied by Russia', but according to him, "this happened 14 years ago". This caused a negative reaction in the critical media and the opposition, giving the impression that "everything was fine" until 2008. However, the Russian hybrid war against Georgia started after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By encouraging the separatist regimes and providing them with military assistance, in the early 1990s, Russia effectively occupied a large part of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, but Shevardnadze agreed to give the status of "peacekeeping forces" to the Russian military in these two regions.

Blaming Saakashvili's government for the August war was the main message for the deputies who left the Georgian dream and are distinguished by their anti-Western statements. Dimitri Khundadze said that Saakashvili did not make a mistake, but it was a "deliberate implementation of Russian policy." Saakashvili himself seems to be upset about Georgian politics, at least his lawyers claim that Saakashvili is no longer interested in Georgian politics and only thinks about Ukraine.

On the 14th anniversary of the war, it should be considered a positive event on the part of the Georgian government, at least the President and the Speaker of the Parliament, that they noted the aggression carried out by Russia and the occupation of Georgian territories, and the Foreign Ministry called on the Russian government to de-occupy Georgian territories.

However, these statements do not change much in the image of the current government, which stands out for its anti-Westernism after the war in Ukraine.

In connection with the 14th anniversary of the August War, the opposition talked a lot about the anti-Western nature of the "Georgian Dream." "Today we have an anti-European government, which increases the dangers for our country," said Badri Japaridze, the leader of Lelo. The position of Nika Melia, the chairman of the main opposition party 'National Movement', was even stricter.

Giorgi Margvelashvili, the fourth president of Georgia, was no less harsh in his assessment - today Georgia has a government controlled by Russia, and thinking about achieving something good by cooperating with it, let's say fulfilling the 12 points proposed by the European Union, would only be self-delusion.

In the current situation, perhaps the opposition and the West should be formed as to what can be achieved from the current government of Georgia, which claims today that it is busy fulfilling the requirements of the European Union. The opposition does not believe this. However, there is not much time left until the end of the year, and the general image should soon become clear.