Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

CASE STUDY—THE AUGUST 2008 WAR BETWEEN RUSSIAN & GEORGIA

itoring Mission (EUMM) is the only international presence in

the conflict zone after the Russian veto of both the United Nations

and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in

Europe observer missions. While the EU is committed to a

deeper involvement in the region, it still lacks a coherent strategy

for the future and now faces a real moment of truth. An

earlier debate regarding whether the EU should do the job alone

or go for a transatlantic strategy to include, for example, US

and Canadian members in the EUMM appears to have been

settled in favour of maintaining a European Security Defence

Policy mission only. Do not rule out that for reasons of cost or

for more logistical support this could change.

The New Russia

The August 2008 events were a wake-up call that the post–

Cold War period of dealing with a Russia that was cooperative,

compliant, and aspiring to be another European democracy was

over. Putin’s Russia aimed to redress the perceived humiliations

that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union and the widely

held belief that the West disregarded its views and did not show

respect for its interests. The Russian sense of grievance was aggravated

by Western support for the colour revolutions, proposals

to extend NATO to its borders, the whole context of NATO’s

actions in the Balkans/Serbia, and subsequent granting of independence

to Kosovo. This new confidence was based on a revived

nationalism, new wealth from resurgent hydrocarbon revenues,

and a determination to use energy as a weapon of both economic

and foreign policy. A key Russian objective became the reestablishment

of primacy over the former Soviet space or that part

that remained outside the EU and NATO: Ukraine, Moldova, and

the South Caucasus. The most hardened pro-Western country

and therefore greatest irritant among these was post–Rose Revolution

Georgia, which also had the misfortune to be singled out

in a shorthand way to remind the others that a high price had to

be paid for steering a path away from Russia. Mikheil Saakashvili

had badly miscalculated that in provoking Moscow, he would

earn more support for Georgia in Washington, particularly in the

Bush White House. In reality Georgia was the most vulnerable of

the near-abroad countries, largely due to the unresolved con-

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