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Serbia and Georgia

If Russia decides to escalate the dispute with Georgia, one option is for it to recognize Abkhazia as an independent state. Abkhazia is pushing Russia to do just that.

What makes this a plausible scenario is Kosovo. From Russia's perspective, the situation of Abkhazia within Georgia is parallel to that of Kosovo within Serbia: regions enjoying de facto autonomy within hostile states, and pushing for formal self-determination. In Putin's words:

"If someone believes that Kosovo should be granted full independence as a state, then why should we deny it to the Abkhaz and the South Ossetians?"

The implied 'someone' is the UN, where glacial negotiations are moving towards the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. Russia is unlikely to let this through the UN without demanding a similar decision on Abkhazia. It might not even wait for Kosovo to come up at the UN - ten days ago, for instance, Mikhail Gorbachev wrote that the "logic of international development may lead Russia to a situation in which we will have no other choice but to recognize Abkhazia"


I don't know if you saw the comments on my last post on Georgia, but I think that Russia is playing with fire by saying Kosovo is a precedent for Abkhazia or South Ossetia. Why wouldn't it also be a precedent for Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Tatarstan, or other Russian regions that might prefer self-determination?

You're right, Nathan. The worst of the rhetoric is coming from second-rate politicians who won't have to deal with the consequences. Also, I guess Russia knows it has enough weight at the UN to quash calls for any Russian regions to separate.