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What Caucasus Russia should wait?2012-02-07 15:11
Last Saturday, Moscow has divided into "Bolotnaya" group and "Poklonnaya" group. The Caucasus is not at the first place in the rhetoric of politicians of both flanks, but nor on the last. Having analyzed the statements, speeches and slogans related to the Caucasua and made by today's Russian leaders, GTimes tried to predict what could become the future Russia's policy on both sides of the Caucasus Mountains.
At first, we recall what Russia's policy in the Caucasus was until now. In the south of the region there are six states, five of which have stable relationship with Russia. There are no visible contacts only between Moscow and Stepanakert, at least in the public field. In a nutshell: the relationship with Azerbaijan are cool, but equable; with Armenia - warm and equable; with Georgia - sharp conflict; with Abkhazia - smooth, but not fully formed; with South Ossetia - allied, but with a negative impact of private and corporate interests on interstate relations.
It's hard to Russia in the South Caucasus. But it is also hard to the South Caucasus countries with Russia. Relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan are directly dependent on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which both side suspects Moscow in the secret patronage to the opponent.
The situation with Georgia is much more complex. The confrontation with Russia is the starting point in the ideology of this country, the core of the state project. The bases of this ideology are two wars, lost in the early 90s of last century. Georgian society could not accept the defeat in the wars with the Abkhazians and Ossetians, putting the blame on Russia, since it is not so shameful to lose to a huge power. Since then, the Russian-Georgian relations have been gradually getting worse to its logical conclusion - the war in 2008. In the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that something that is able to return "friendship and brotherhood" in our relations may happen. If a thaw occurs, it would be related to the resumption of normal transport operation, simplifying the visa regime, normal export of Georgian goods into Russia. But sooner or later, the thaw will hit an iceberg of the unresolved conflicts, in which Georgia has too ambitious demands to Russia - to return Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But this is impossible, since Moscow is not unwilling to do it, but just cannot.
We presume that Vladimir Putin wins the presidential election in Russia, since it is the most realistic forecast. With regard to relations with Georgia, this means that more tough line would prevail, though the last war occurred under more liberal president Medvedev. Generally speaking, Moscow does not need anything from Tbilisi. At least, the growing Kremlin's obsession to conquer free Georgia is nothing more than paranoia. This idea is for internal use, since it is convenient because it helps to mobilize society to fight the external enemy. This technology is old as the hills; however, it does not seem very successful in Georgian society.
The future of Russian-Georgian relations depends on whether the re-evaluation of events in the Georgian society occurs. If Russia remains guilty for collapse of the country in the public's eyes, there would be no thaw, regardless of who is in power in Moscow and Tbilisi.