Expect a lot of noise from the neo-Cold War alarmists about the Russia-Georgia talks in Geneva breaking down before they even started. Not a big deal, though. They’re rescheduled for a month form now, and time isn’t on the Russians’ side. Should they insist on holding onto the provinces, they will open themselves up to very easy asymmetric strikes (last week’s, for instance), of the sort that will eventually necessitate a full-scale invasion and occupation of all of Georgia. In other words, a total waste of resources while they’re trying to reestablish their rusting military (see Richard Weitz’ WPR column from yesterday).
While a number of accounts are reporting a Georgia-Russia blame game over the actual status at the table of the two province/”countries,” this passage from the Kommersant piece suggests that the Russians aren’t under any illusions about what actually constitutes a sovereign state:
Meanwhile, the EU postponed until next month a decision on restarting talks on the EU-Russia partnership agreement that, despite Russia’s nonchalance about it, represents a potential first step towards a logical rapprochement.
It’s possible the Russian leadership is as stupid as their rhetoric, but I didn’t have that impression. Abkhazia and South Ossetia were never more than bargaining chips, andthe Russians will cash them in when Moscow has either gotten what it wants forthem or they become too costly to hold onto.