Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi increased notably this past week, when more than seventy heavily armed Russian “peacekeepers” based in Abkhazia moved into the upper part of Georgia’s Kodori Gorge, with the apparent aim of occupying it. After repeatedly failing to reach President Putin for an explanation, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze authorized his defense minister, Davit Tevzadze, to take whatever military measures necessary to thwart the Russia troops.
Following a stand-off lasting several days, during which Georgian forces fired warning shots over the heads of the Russian troops, Putin finally took Shevardnadze’s call and confirmed he had ordered the Russian troops out while insisting that they had the right to patrol the upper Kodori Gorge in the future. For many observers there was little doubt about who had won the standoff: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, for one, called the incident a “colossal” blow to Russia’s image. “Moscow was forced to silently swallow the force ultimatum made by Tbilisi,” which, the Russian paper wrote, felt bolstered by “the United States’ strong support.”
This issue was written by Jonas Burnstein.