Prelude and Epilogue to War
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Russian soldiers, currently occupying some 20 percent of the former Soviet republic of Georgia’s territory on the eastern shores of the Black Sea, recently killed Tamaz Ginturi, a Georgian citizen, as he visited a cemetery and a church near the village of Kirbali. “He was shot dead by Russia’s occupation forces for driving in his own country,” wrote the US Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “We condemn this killing.”
Russian troops have occupied the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the 2008 invasion that Atlantic Council analysts claimed the West did little to oppose. The non-response might have helped convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that the US and Europe would not come to the defense of Ukraine, either, if he ordered an attack on that enormous former Soviet republic. That prediction was arguably wrong, of course, given the $100 billion that the Western governments have given Ukraine, as CNN explained.
Memorial services and the transfer of remains are routinely observed in the country, noted Agenda.ge, a local English-language news website. But the real legacy of the 2008 war is instability, the Strategist, a publication of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, wrote.
Russia recently announced plans for a new naval base in Abkhazia, a move that NATO leaders condemned, according to the Kyiv Independent. Such a move would dramatically expand the Russian footprint in the country.
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who led the country during the Russian invasion, has been in jail since 2021 serving a six-year sentence on abuse of power charges that he strenuously denied, Radio Free Europe added.
The ruling Georgian Dream political party, meanwhile, has been increasingly authoritarian and illiberal, or following in the footsteps of other European leaders who use their parliamentary majorities to seize control of the judiciary, press, and other levers of power to retain maximum control, wrote Carnegie Europe.
The developments should please Putin because an unstable Georgia faces much higher hurdles to joining NATO and the European Union. Yet the European Commission, or the officials who run the bloc’s offices and agencies, recently voted to recommend that EU leaders grant Georgia candidate status to the EU, the first step in joining, reported the Financial Times.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also avoided impeachment charges when Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and his allies in the Georgian Dream party sought to oust her for campaigning in favor of EU membership, wrote Global Voices. Zurabishvili has sought to maintain good relations with Russia, a massive neighbor whom she doesn’t want to provoke.
Good relations with Russia seem difficult when Russian troops are shooting your citizens as they visit churches, however.