Staunton, June 28 – Irakly Kobakhidze, the speaker of the Georgian parliament, said in Washington this week that Russia continues to threaten the national independence of his country, maintains its occupation forces on Georgian territory and has refused to respond to Tbilisi’s efforts to find common ground (apsny.ge/2018/pol/1530210649.php).
Because of this threat, Georgia has been pursuing membership in the Western alliance; but as Vladimir Putin has demonstrated again and again, he will use all means, including invasion and occupation, to prevent that from happening by creating a situation in which some NATO member states will be leery of becoming involved.
In a personal communication to this writer, Israeli analyst Avraham Shmulyevich says that recent statements coming out of South Ossetia and recent Russian actions in support of the Armenians in Georgia’s Javakhetia region suggest that Putin may in fact be ready to threaten or even carry out the dismemberment of Georgia by cutting that country in half.
If one looks at a map of Georgia, one can see that the Russian unrecognized client state of South Ossetia looks like a dagger pointed directly at the Georgian capital, Shmulyevich points out. For confirmation of this, he points to a series of maps of the area available online at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trialet_
That makes recent statements by South Ossetian leaders that the Soviets illegally transferred part of Ossetian land to the Georgian SSR and that Ossetians thus have the right to reclaim them especially frightening (ekhokavkaza.com/a/29323404.html,cominf.org/node/1166517221 and cominf.org/node/1166517206).
Any further expansion of Ossetian control, something that could only be achieved with the strength of Russian arms, would threaten Tbilisi even more directly. But as Shmulyevich notes, there is an even greater danger to Georgia in evidence, one that reflects the recent changes in Armenia.
That is in the Javakhetia region in southern Georgia, a region populated largely by ethnic Armenians and led by people who were closely associated with the ancient regime in Yerevan. They are thus more disposed to follow Moscow’s demands than the Pashinyan government and could be set against Tbilisi as well.
Were Moscow and its agents to stir up trouble in Javakhetia, Shmulyevich says, that would create a dagger from the south that would almost meet the Ossetian dagger from the north and cut the Republic of Georgia into two parts. Even the threat that Moscow could do that must be worrisome to Georgia and its supporters in the West.
Obviously, this is an argument based on capabilities rather than on knowledge of intentions; but it is not so far-fetched that it should be dismissed out of hand, as some may be inclined to do. Instead, it could become a scenario for yet another Putinist hybrid war and for the same purpose as in Ukraine, to block a country that wants to turn to the West from doing so.