Droning on about Georgia

Tensions between Russia and Georgia seem to have ratcheted up a couple of notches, with the story that the Russians have shot down a Georgian drone.

The Georgians are already very anxious about what they regard as further steps in Russia’s “creeping annexation” of the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On April 16th, the Russians announced that they are opening “representations” in the two territories, to deal directly with Russian citizens there. David Smith of the Georgian Security Analysis centre in Tbilisi argues that – “This is big—tantamount to Russian annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

But – as Smith makes clear - the Georgians are pleased with what they regard as a firm western response. The secretary-general of Nato, Condi Rice, John McCain and Hillary Clinton have all spoken out in support of Georgia.

The whole argument highlights the debate about how to handle an angry and resurgent Russia. The “anti-appeasement” crowd will argue that Russia has been encouraged by the refusal to grant Georgia a membership action plan at the Nato summit – and that current developments are an example of Russia testing western resolve. The “understand Russia” crowd will argue that the Kremlin is responding to western provocation over Kosovo – as well as Ukraine and Georgia.

And what do you think?

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