Toolbox: Georgia's Territorial Integrity

Cooley, Alexander A.; Mitchell, Lincoln A.

Since the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008, the United States and the European Union has adamantly, and justifiably, refused to accept Russia’s post-war recognition of the declared independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, Washington and Brussels have failed, together and separately, to develop a realistic strategy toward the breakaway territories that takes changed political dynamics into account. Indeed, we do not have a workable policy at all; we have platitudes stuck in amber that ignore reality. The core realities we must acknowledge are, first, that these territories are almost certainly lost to Georgia, possibly for decades, and second, that Russian influence in both places has in- creased rapidly and substantially. Unless the United States changes its approach, the Russian Federation will soon completely absorb Abkhazia and South Ossetia. To prevent that outcome, we, together with the European Union, need urgently to end the current policy of isolation with respect to these territories and replace it with one of “engagement without recognition.”

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Harriman Institute
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September 14, 2011