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.
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.
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.
This appointment has almost no implications for the US military strategy like all the previous appointments in the last 20 years. Irrespective of who holds the position of the Defence Secretary, the US remains a naval power, whose continental territories will remain immune to opponents at least till 2050.
The key question for Russia is whether the Operation Atlantic Resolve will become the start of permanent stationing of American and NATO forces in the countries of former Warsaw Pact and the post-Soviet space. Moscow insists that its security needs be taken into account, whereas the American leadership believes that the motives of Russia stem from “misinterpretations and outdated thinking”.