Editorial: Russia's war against Georgia halted NATO expansion

26. mail lehvib Viljandis Gruusia rahvuslipp. Lipp heisatakse raekoja roosiaias.

PHOTO: Peeter Kümmel / Sakala

Five years back, to the day, Russian army went into attack against Georgia. By now we may tell this did end a phase in European history. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, those freed from under Kremlin began to head Westward (some fast, some at glacial speeds) and organisations carrying Western values spread towards the East.

Russia’s attack against Georgia halted NATO’s expansion. Naturally it may be claimed that work is in progress: for instance, Georgia-NATO and Georgia-EU committees keep on meeting and discussing Georgian movement towards NATO membership. Even so, this is nothing but technical; political impact thereof is reduced to the statement that none of the parties has slammed the door shut. No doubt these activities play a role in paving the way for political decisions; hoverer, they do not equal decisions.

While in the first half of 2008, handing NATO membership plans to Ukraine and Georgia felt quite natural, nobody does serious talk on that any longer. Which means that political will for NATO expansion no longer exists. By the war against Georgia, Russia achieved one of its strategic goals.

As recently stated, bluntly, by Russia’s prime minister Mr Medvedev: the anti-Georgian war was mainly aimed against NATO’s expansion; Russia also being highly annoyed at the Baltic States’ NATO membership. The statement by Mr Medvedev is another confirmation that the imperial (and across-borders impact) ideas are alive and well in Moscow; implying it does not matter what people in Georgia or in Estonia, for that matter, consider as important.  

What does matter is the Kremlin bearlets’ fear of losing their influence and power, not the will of the nations. In viewing the Russian-Georgian war as end of inclusion of Eastern states in the West, Estonia’s one-time decisive steps towards Western values feel even more valuable.

We made use of the «window opened by history» – being now able to argue over details of EU agricultural policy while many former fellow-sufferers still face existential problems.

Currently, the issue is: will Kremlin achieve in Georgia, by «soft power», whatever was left unachieved by the war? Georgia being the only route, avoiding Iran and Russia, to Caspian oil and the mineral-rich states of Central Asia.

By controlling Georgia, Kremlin would gain undeniable leverage over all of Central Asia. This, among other issues, does point to the economical interests behind political and military manoeuvres. In other words: the price of the war waged five years ago is reflected, in one way or another, also in Estonian fuel prices.

TOP