Globalsecurity.org reports that Abkhazia claims it has shot down yet another Georgian drone, bringing the unconfirmed total to five. They include drones shot down (allegedly) on March 18, April 20th, and two more on May 4th. While Georgia denies the report, it would coincide with the rise in tensions with Russia and now, especially with Moscow’s new deployment of soldiers to Abkhazia. It would be reasonable to think that Tbilisi has stepped up surveillance to keep tabs on the Russians and Abkhaz who have become more belligerent. Both Russia and Abkhazia continue to claim that Georgia is preparing military action and building up troop levels in the Kodori Gorge and other border areas although Georgia denies this, a claim supported by UNOMIG observers.
Recently, the UN Security Council renewed the mandate for observers in Georgia (UNOMIG) in a fairly bland and uninteresting statement. What was however noteworthy is that the UNSC did not add language addressing Russia’s illegal actions such as providing citizenship to the Abkhaz to add a further “legitimate” reason for it to annex Georgian territory and station troops there illegally.
War or Diplomacy?
Since Georgia clearly has no way to beat Russia militarily, it must tread carefully and push diplomacy as his only resort, but the Russians know this. One such way in which this author believes Georgia could push harder is urging for real peacekeepers to be stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In this way, Georgia could tone down its language, implicitly acknowledge the two breakaway regions and try to push Russia out of the picture, or at least sideline them by diluting their presence with other peacekeepers. While it has attempted such in meetings with other nations, it must be done in a more public manner, using Western media outlets among other things. In addition, Georgia must address European concerns about escalation and angering Russia in a concrete and meaningful way. With Western Europe behavior consistently cowardly vis-a-vis Russia, illustrating that European peacekeepers would actually decrease the risk of war and escalation. While I’m not necessarily optimistic that it would work, it would be difficult for Russia to argue against further peacekeepers since it would technically protect their dear Abkhaz.
While Kosovo may be more or less settled, it would seem the rest of Europe and Asia’s frozen conflicts haven’t begun to thaw after all.