There is nothing in the major international newspapers I have checked marking the fourth anniversary of the August 2008 War the saw forces from the Russian Federation invade Georgia in response to a Georgian military assault on South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinval(i). The absence is telling, I think, of how this war did not, contra Ron Asmus’s excellent albeit unidimensional book on the subject, ‘shake the world’ over the long term. Georgia is not on the minds of most foreign policy professionals. But hundreds died in this war while thousands were displaced (and remain so beyond South Ossetia in ‘uncontested Georgia’). It is a painful and sober memory for them.
President Mikhail Saakashvili gave an interesting speech on the anniversary in Gori today on the theme that one cannot have appeasement with a bear. Indeed. Georgia’s next test is internal, with the forthcoming elections in October being closely monitored by the US, the EU and NATO.
John O’Loughlin and I finally found some co-ordinated time this summer to write up our research on this difficult and tragic conflict. It is currently under academic review.
The slogan on the photo I took in Tskinval(i) in March 2009? “Feel the spirit of your ancestors, heroes of Ossetia!”