Posts Tagged ‘NATO’s Relationship with Georgia’

Russia Begins Military Exercises Near Georgia

June 30, 2009

Yesterday, the Russia began military exercises near the Russo-Georgian border.  The maneuvers involve more than 8,500 personnel from all of the branches of the armed forces, and they will continue until Monday.  The war games will be the largest Russia has held since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Similar exercises took place shortly before the Russian army invaded Georgia last year and swiftly won the conflict over the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway Georgian enclaves with close ties to Russia.

Russia has long considered Georgia to be part of its sphere of influence, and in the last few years it has exerted pressure on its neighbor and other countries that were formerly under Russian domination.  Such actions have been a source of tension between Russia and the US, which has established a presence in many former Soviet satellite states since the end of the Cold War.  Some Western officials have advocated granting Georgia NATO membership in order to deter the Russian government from involving itself in Georgia’s internal affairs, and just a few weeks ago NATO held its own exercises there.

Allowing Georgia to join NATO would be a disastrous mistake.  It would be almost impossible for the US and its NATO allies to defend Georgia if Russia invaded again given the logistical problems involved and the ease with which Russia could supply its forces in a country located just across the border.  Expanding NATO into Central Europe after the end of the Cold War was a wise policy decision because it created greater stability in the area, but incorporating Georgia into the alliance would likely have a destabilizing effect in Europe by provoking a forceful response from Russia.  Georgia is not strategically important enough to risk a major war.