European Resource Bank 2008

TBILISI — What should NATO do about Georgia? This question must inevitably lead to the question of what NATO should do about Russia? Since Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Georgia on Aug. 7, the West has failed to find an adequate answer to either question. Although Russian troops have this week left Georgia proper, they remain deeply entrenched in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, including “new” areas such as Abkhazia’s Kodori Gorge and the South Ossetian town of Akhalgori where they weren’t present before Aug. 7

The Baltic States remain deeply concerned that Moscow’s actions are just a precursor to further aggressive action, as Russia seeks to regain its previous influence in former Soviet territories. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. John Craddock said today that NATO must, “reexamine its assumptions about the safety of member states and could require new contingency planning.” But as things stand, the West remains divided over confronting Russian aggression, with Germany in particular pressing the EU and NATO for a softly-softly approach to Russia.

Currently, unarmed EU and OSCE observers are placed in Georgia-proper to monitor the Russian withdrawal. The EU, UN and OSCE will co-host the first stage of international talks in Geneva on Wednesday between Russia and Georgia (and South Ossetia and Abkhazia) about issues of security and stability. Significantly, Russia has already said it will not revisit the question of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence, and that it will keep 3,800 troops in each of the breakaway regions. The international community’s limited response to this crisis has not been sufficient and there is little chance that the Geneva talks will yield anything of substance.

By invading Georgia, a NATO Partnership for Peace member, Russia provoked a de facto confrontation with the West. It blatantly sought to test the West’s resolve to respond to Moscow’s redrawing of Europe’s border by force and Europe was found seriously wanting.