Georgian Conflict No Surprise
Russia’s response to Georgia’s attack against South Ossetia should come as no surprise. Moscow had sent strong signals that they would respond militarily should Georgia mount an assault into South Ossetia.
Richard R. Bennett’s article in the Asia Times reviews a period from July 12th to the 15th in which Russia indicated that it suspected Georgian military action was pending. Russia’s response was to fly fighter jets over South Ossetia as a warning of its readiness to respond in kind. This action took place hours before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tbilisi to express her countries support for Georgia – so the US was also given a warning of growing Russian apprehension of a strengthening of military and political ties between Georgia and the US.
Russia and Georgia both reported that the other was preparing to launch an assault, essentially outlining the conflict that did in fact take place.
France’s peace peace proposal favours Russia, allowing it to keep so-called peacekeeping forces within Georgian territory and making no demands on Georgian territorial integrity in regards to the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia is effectively being asked to make all of the concessions.
This short war may put a stop to NATO’s eastward expansion and could undermine the confidence of the recent members from the East European Bloc, once Russia’s allies now antagonists.
This could serve to further erode confidence in NATO as countries question the wisdom of its rapid expansion in membership in the light that this growth may well have lead to greater instability and hostility versus Russia, undermining global peace: an inverse effect what a defence alliance is meant to accomplish in terms of preventing the very need for violent confrontation through show of a unity in common strength. Eastern Bloc members may now wonder to what extent NATO will be willing to help them should Russia actively seek to apply pressure in that region.
Russia retains control of the strategically vital city of Gori, in Georgia while the US urges Georgia to accept the French peace proposal.