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Georgia's US-Russia balancing act

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 22
According to US President Barack Obama there is now a pause in US-Russia relations. Because the US is Georgia’s strategic partner and Russia continues to occupy 20% of Georgia's sovereign territory, the pause will undoubtedly affect Georgia.

Analysts and politicians intensively speculate over the issue. For five years, since August of 2008, there was a policy of reset between the US and Russia. This mode was unfavorable for Georgia because the US tempered its active support for Georgia, leaving Georgia to deal face-to-face with aggressive Russian imperialism.

Some analysts believe that the so-called reset policy represented a certain guarantee to protect Georgia. However, Moscow never follows the logical developments and remained a major threat for Georgia’s statehood.

The pause in relations between the US and Russia could prove to be even more dangerous for Georgia. As the Kremlin continues reinforcing its position in the South Caucasus region and does it quite successfully.

During the current situation, Moscow can increase pressure on Tbilisi and it looks like Washington will not be interfering in this.

Obama cited the Snowden "espionage" case and other issues as the reason behind the latest tension between the two powers. We do not know what issues Obama has referring to precisely. Was Georgia among the issues? This is a crucial question for Georgia.

How should Georgia behave under such circumstances? Should it continue its move towards the EU and NATO, or as some analysts suggest – should Tbilisi take a more realistic policy approach and realize that it will never become a member of NATO; and so better to reconcile with Russia?

There is also the possibility that Georgia encourages further confrontation between the two powers hoping that Russia will come out the loser in this confrontation.

There is yet another possibility suggested by some Georgian analysts. It is a policy of balance: There should be no radical changes with regard to the EU and NATO, and at the same time Georgia should not use aggressive rhetoric towards Russia.

The country’s current leadership tries to follow this model. It keeps repeating the country’s EU and NATO aspirations, all the while remaining moderate and cooperative towards Moscow.

Everything depends on Russia. What will be its choice: confrontation with Washington and presumably with Georgia or restoration of normal relations with the US and with its strategic partner?