In January 2014 a possibility of a high-level meeting between the Russian and Georgian leaders was discussed in expert circles. Russia was completing the preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and managed to enlist Georgia’s assistance on some important security issues. Despite certain resentment existent in parts of the Georgian establishment, Georgia’s team took part in the Olympic competitions. In these favourable conditions the two leaders, Vladimir Putin and Irakli Garibashvili, did not rule out a possibility of a meeting. This made experts speculate about a probable agenda of these discussions. The first Russo-Georgian summit after the 2008 war was expected to arrive at some agreements bound by the leaders’ signatures. So in which spheres was the progress seen as most likely?
With all the huge expectations concerning the Russo-Georgian relations earlier this year, it is now difficult to admit these expectations are all in the past.
The Ukrainian crisis emerged high not only on the European agenda, but also on the agenda of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Russia could not escape treating the processes in Crimea and Donbass – not to mention the political antagonism with the West, which was rising in the beginning and then started to decline – with paramount attention. In the short term, the highest priority for the Russian leadership are the Ukrainian crisis and the relations with the EU and the US in the Ukrainian crisis context. While President Putin and Prime-minister Medvedev used to publicly address the topic of Russian relations with Georgia several times a year, it has not happened once since the beginning of the acute phase of the Ukrainian crisis.
Western governments locked up in short electoral cycles are bound to continue same policies towards Russia.
My observations in Washington prove that this is not an immediate objective for the US yet. However, it does not mean, that the Americans will refrain from an opportunity to speed up the fall of the Russian regime if the internal problems cause a social upheaval. Having met with the White House, National Security Council and Pentagon officials, as well as experts on Russia in Washington, I may conclude that the US has certain difficulties formulating a single consistent policy towards Moscow and is, therefore, incapable of conspiring against it.
It seems to me that George Friedman’s geopolitical doctrine simplifies both the international reality and the liberal ideas of the American mainstream. Acceptance of the reality of the existing balance of powers, aspiration for preserving stability and guidance by the international law – these are the key ingredients in the realist policies recipe that the US still fail to manage.
The space of the modern Europe is clotting, strategic depth is fading away and partners-opponents are at the front door.To escape confrontation and revive its role of the Eurasian dynamic kernel peacefully, it is important that Russia follows the motives and logic in policies of both its rivals and buffer states on its periphery.