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Putin on South Ossetia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, August 10
The media in Georgia and Russia is actively discussing the statement made by Russian PM Putin about the possibility of South Ossetia being incorporated into the Russian Federation. Most of analysts think that this was not just a slip of the tongue. Putin was at a question and answer session with young people on August 1 when one of the participants asked whether it was possible that the two Ossetias, North and South, could unite. Putin responded that this was the matter to be decided by the local population.

Some considered that the question and answer were conveniently timed as they followed the US senate resolution which once again confirmed these Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as being militarily occupied by the Russian Federation. So, indirectly or even directly this was the answer of Russian federation and its leader to the US position. The independence of Georgia's disputed territories is of course just formal. Almost one hundred percent of locals from these territories have Russian passports and accordingly have Russian citizenship. The situation on those territories is completely under the control of Russian armed forces. All the economic activities there are carried out with Russian financing. So of course they are “independent” only formally and everybody in Georgia, Russia and beyond is aware of this. Of course if Russia adds these entities to its territories it will show its imperialistic character on an international level once again. It should also be noted that Putin's statement was at odds with the words of President Medvedev. Some time ago Medvedev of Russia ruled out the possibility of South Ossetia joining Russia, whereas Putin's answer left the position unclear. Some commentators think that this is yet more proof of confrontation between the president and PM of Russia.

Looking deeper into the issue, during one of the recent polls it appeared that almost half of the respondents supported the idea of North Caucasus Russian Federation republics being withdrawn from Russia. Many Russian citizens believe the republics create problems in the Russian Federation, at great expense to the national budget. So, against this background the idea of incorporating South Ossetia with the Russian Federation could heap further problems and expenses on Moscow.

As for South Ossetia itself its leaders completely exclude the possibility of joining the Russian Federation, at least at this stage. They would prefer to be independent, but with Russian passports, Russian money, armed forces and economy.

Some South Ossetian officials from the marionette leadership suggest different forms of cooperation between Moscow and Tskhinvali, stressing upon the possibility of joining the Russian-Belarus union. But this is a long term programme because so far Minsk has not surrendered to Moscow's pressure and has not recognized the supposed independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Of course neither Minsk nor Tskhinvali can tell Moscow what to do, as their massive neighbour will do as he pleases. Presumably the Kremlin realizes that such a step would confirm the western opinion over Russia occupying Georgian territories while such a move could also be very costly.

The future of South Ossetia looks to be in Russian hands, but just how firm their grip will be remains to be seen.