Russia's policy vis-á-vis Georgia: Continuity and Change


  • Normark Per

Publish date: 2001-01-01

Report number: FOI-R--0168--SE

Pages: 54

Written in: English


Russian policy towards Georgia at the turn of the century is compared to that of the first years of Georgian independence in three important aspects. With regard to Abkhazia, it is shown that the Russian policy has been characterised by continuity, both in the formal support of Georgian territorial integrity, and in the informal support of the Abkhazian separatists. Concerning Russian armed units in Georgia, Russia initially promised to withdraw them. However, they remained and their presence was formalised in two agreements. Later, the border troops were withdrawn and an agreement was reached on pulling out the military units as well. Then Russia started to drag its feet, and in the summer of 2001 the prospects for a complete withdrawal looked uncertain. Regarding the war in Chechnya, Russia was pleased that Georgia supported its attempt to crush separatism there in 1994-96. But when Russia resumed the war in 1999 and Georgia tried to stay neutral, the relations deteriorated and Russia introduced a visa regime, which became a hard blow to the Georgian economy. Russian policy thus was inconsistent with a discrepancy between words and deeds.