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An emboldened Russia, a grave danger

Monday, April 21
Russia’s bullying carrot-and-stick policy has shoved Georgia into a critical position.

Moscow’s intentions are abundantly clear by the pattern of its behavior. Walking away from the CIS embargo on Abkhazia in March opened the door to expanding ‘legal’ links with its separatist client regimes there and in South Ossetia.

NATO’s irresolute support for Georgia at this month’s NATO summit in Bucharest gave Russia the confidence to step through the door.

Now, after international rebuke for that aggressive move into the breakaway regions, the Kremlin says it will lift an economic embargo on Georgia to prove its goodhearted intentions.

Let there be no mistake. Russia is attempting to put a flimsy legal imprimatur on its annexation of Georgian territory. Recognition of Abkhazian independence is not necessary—instead there is the slow but inexorable tug into the Russian Federation.

If Russia is allowed to succeed in its land grab, it deals not only a devastating blow to Georgia and those driven out of Abkhazia in the war’s ethnic cleansing, but confirms that ethnic cleansing is an acceptable and effective tactic of territorial control. And far from ending regional conflict, it sows further instability into the Caucasus.

There is little Georgia can do alone. It is incumbent on the international community to bring pressure to bear on Russia, which, for all its bluster and self-justification, cannot ignore the world which buys its gas and oil.

Georgia was let down once in Bucharest, and an emboldened Russia is the result. Georgia should not be let down again.