Staunton, November 13 – “The victory of pro-Russian forces in Georgia would be a catastrophe not only for Georgia,” Gela Vasadze, the head of the Svobodnaya Zona portal, says, because that development, one actively promoted by Moscow, would also cut off Azerbaijan, Central Asia and China from a land route to Europe bypassing Russia.
Vasadze’s argument, offered in the current issue of Baku’s Ekho newspaper, that “the final goal of the Kremlin is the monopolization of transportation and communications links between Europe and China” must be part of Western calculations about how to respond to what Vladimir Putin is doing.
According to the Georgian analyst, the current political crisis in Georgia is the result primarily of domestic problems, but it is being exacerbated by international tensions, including efforts by Moscow to force Tbilisi to change from its pro-Western course. If Moscow were not involved, the current government would be “quite stable.”
Vasadze said that one of the reasons for that is Moscow’s reluctance to push things too far in Georgia just now because it certainly recalls that “the Maidan [in Ukraine] as an act of a national-democratic revolution was called forth by the attempt of [former President Viktor] Yanukovych to turn away from a European course and re-orient his country toward Moscow.”
He added that the recent wave of resignations from the government may even weaken Moscow’s hand because there have appeared “more people” in the Georgian parliament who “will oppose attempts by the pro-Russian lobby” to build a new road between Georgia and Russia or re-open railway communications with Abkhazia.”
As Ekho notes in presenting Vasadze’s views, not all analysts agree with his interpretation of the recent developments in Georgia or their sources, with some suggesting that the West rather than Moscow is trying to destabilize the situation in order to create new problems for Moscow.
But Vasadze’s argument is important for three reasons: First, it underscores something that many in the West are inclined to ignore. Moscow has a policy for the entire former Soviet space, one intended to exclude the West and other outside powers and restore Russian dominance of these countries.
Second, in responding to Moscow’s efforts in any one place, Western leaders must recognize that what Russia is doing in Ukraine or anywhere else is part of that plan and must develop policies that by addressing one place alone make the situation in other countries still worse.
And third – and this may be the most important message Vasadze is delivering – Russia and China, however much many hope or fear otherwise, are on a collision course in Eurasia, something Vladimir Putin is trying to conceal but cannot prevent and a reality that Russia will have to deal with and that the West can and should exploit.