On August 8, 2010 it will be two years since Georgia tried to solve the South Ossetian issue by force. Now, looking at those events through the prism of time, we can conclude that Russia stopped the aggression, prevented a genocide of the Ossetian people and strengthened Russia's geostrategic positions in the Caucasus. In other words, it has won the war. But will it be able to win the peace?
When the hostilities ended, Russia made efforts to help war-ravaged South Ossetia, allocating considerable funds for these purposes. The Russian leadership made a series of steps to stabilize the social and economic situation in the region and, as a result, to strengthen the young state. But the current state of affairs raises doubts whether the allocated funds are being spent effectively. Concerned about such a turn of events, the Kremlin is beginning to clamp stiff controls over the reconstruction process, encountering both concealed and open resistance.
The existing danger is perfectly clear. If South Ossetia continues to lie in ruins and not to feel that its leadership and the Russian ally are able to change life for the better, Russia will lose a great deal in the Caucasus. The Georgian leadership and foreign forces behind it are well aware of that. Tbilisi is already using the "day to day" tactics of information warfare, stressing the inability of South Ossetian authorities to rule the country and exposing corruption. A full-scale media attack should be expected in the near future, with its first signs already in evidence.
If Russia and South Ossetia let this tactic work, they will betray in the first place those who gave their lives for South Ossetia's independence in August 2008. The ineffectiveness of its economic policy will have a serious political impact. If living standards in neighboring Georgia are considerably better, more people in Ossetia, particularly young people, will sooner or later rethink the choice they had made. And after thinking, they will take practical steps.
However, the raft of issues connected with South Ossetia's statehood is not limited to the economy. In addition to paying increased attention to social and economic matters, efforts should be focused on explaining the gist of the Georgian-Ossetian armed conflict of two years ago. The international community is still poorly informed of the Georgian military tactic used in August 2008, the criminal nature of a preplanned and cynically conducted act of aggression, and of a treacherous attack launched on peacekeeping troops in the region. Telling the truth about what happened can help to win international recognition for South Ossetia.
A separate aspect must be the criminal persecution of all those guilty of the aggression, the genocide of the Ossetian people and the deaths of Russian peacekeepers. Perhaps it is already time to call the international tribunal to look objectively and impassively into the legal aspects of the recent history. Those who shamelessly attacked Tskhinval in August 2008 should be given to understand that the statute of limitation does not apply to their crimes.
The Russian leadership and the South Ossetian authorities should both realize that successful rehabilitation of a war-wracked country and punishment of the aggressors will determine the future of the South Ossetian state and its international status. Otherwise, people will say that Russia has won the war but lost the peace.
Alexei Pilko, PhD in History, for RIA Novosti ---------------------------------------
Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity
Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia on August 26, 2008 could go down in history as the moment the world ceased to be unipolar, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity has said.
Russia recognized South Ossetia and nearby Abkhazia two weeks after a war with Georgia, which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. The move was heavily criticized by Western powers.
Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru are the only other countries so far to have followed Russia in recognizing the republics, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“August 26 is not simply the date on which Russia recognized South Ossetia - it may also go down in history as the date on which the world stopped being unipolar,” Kokoity told journalists in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
He also said that “even if the international community does not recognize us, they consider us independent states.”
He also rejected claims by Georgian politicians that the stationing of Russian forces in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia meant that the republics had transformed into nothing more than gigantic Russian military bases in the Caucasus region.
“This is absurd,” he said. “We signed these intergovernmental deals ourselves and asked Russia’s leaders to deploy the bases - this is normal international practice.”