Vpředvečer války. Rusko-gruzínské vztahy v letech 2001–2007
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On the Eve of War: Russian-Georgian Relations, 2001–07
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This article seeks to demonstrate that, with increasing US involvement in the affairs of the South Caucasus, relations between Russia and Georgia had permanently taken a turn for the worse as early as autumn 2001, when this process accelerated. In that sense, even the change in government in Georgia was not decisive, when, in late 2003, as a consequence of the Rose Revolution the moderate President Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, was forced to resign and power was taken over by the pro-American politician Mikheil Saakashvili, who made Georgian membership in NATO and the EU an aim of his assertive foreign policy – in accord with the prevailing mood in Georgian society and his own overall orientation. The author focuses on how these deteriorating relations were reflected in disputes over the penetration of armed anti-Russian Islamist rebels into Georgian territory and their subsequent elimination, and in debates over the presence and removal of Russian military bases in Georgia, accompanied by massive American military assistance to the Georgian government. He also seeks to show that the short war between Moscow and Tbilisi in 2008 should be seen as the logical culmination of the long-lasting and escalating conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi, a conflict that was determined more by structural factors than personal ones and in which none of the sides showed a willingness to retreat from its position. In these circumstances it was just a matter of time before the ‘diplomatic war’ would lead to an armed confrontation.
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