Pravda.Ru has interviewed Emmanuel Karagiannis, a lecturer in International Relations specializing in Eurasian affairs, the University of Macedonia at Thessaliniki, Greece, to find out more about possible escalation of the political crisis between Russia and Georgia.
Pravda.Ru: It has been recently reported that jets flown from Russia fired an air-to-surface missile at Georgian territory. Russia denies the fact providing the evidence that it has nothing to do with it. How could you comment on this?
Emmanuel Karagiannis: If the incident really took place, it seems to be an accident rather than a pre-planned attack given the lack of a clear military objective.
Pravda.Ru: Why Georgia is always eager to escalate crisis in Russian-Georgian relations?
Emmanuel Karagiannis: I would not say that the Georgian leadership is eager to escalate crisis in the bilateral relations, but rather it has adopted a high-risk confrontational strategy towards Moscow in order to attract international attention to the country’s frozen conflicts.
The Saakashvili government’s belligerent rhetoric is also for domestic consumption since
anti-Russian sentiments run high in Georgia. However, such a strategy could only alienate the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia further and play into the heads of Russian ultra-nationalists who desire the restoration of the Soviet Union.
Pravda.Ru: To what extent does Georgia enjoy US support?
Emmanuel Karagiannis: Georgia is viewed as a pivot state by Washington for the transportation of the Caspian energy resources to the West; therefore the U.S. government supported, if not orchestrated, the Rose Revolution of 2003. Yet, it is unlikely that the Bush administration would risk a major crisis with Moscow over Georgia at a time when more Russian involvement is desperately needed to solve with the Iranian nuclear puzzle. Saakashvili does indeed enjoys a great deal of the support from the remaining neoconservatives in Washington but he spends his precious political capital too quickly.
Pravda.Ru: What future is in store for Georgia?
Emmanuel Karagiannis: The Georgian leadership is keen to promote the country’s membership to NATO, but the European allies won’t risk a deterioration of their diplomatic and energy relations with Moscow for the sake of a small country in the Transcaucasus, albeit strategically important. Georgia’s inexperienced political leadership should draw lessons from Heydar Aliyev’s statecraft towards Russia.
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