Russia Redraws Georgia – South Ossetia Border

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Reports from Georgia indicate that Russian troops have claimed more territory for the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Georgian officials report that Russian troops have installed a series of signs indicating the “state border” of South Ossetia. The European Union has warned of increased tensions in the region as politicians focus on the crisis in Greece, according to the BBC.

EU criticizes new border line

A small section of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline is effectively under Russian control as it is situated behind the new line of fences, but Moscow has denied involvement. Russian troops have been patrolling the border since the brief 2008 war with Georgia over South Ossetia.

The installation of the new signposts “had led to tension in the area, with potentially negative effects on the local population, their livelihood and freedom of movement,” according to an EU foreign policy spokesperson.

“Steps that could be perceived as provocative must be avoided,” read a statement from the office of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. “The EU reaffirms its full support for Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”

“We’ve lost most of our fields,” said a farmer from the affected area. “The Russians said we are no longer allowed there.”

According to reports the new fences are at least 300 meters further into Georgian territory than before, and brings the border within 500 meters of the main East-West highway in Georgia. The highway links the Georgian capital Tblisi with Black Sea ports, as well as neighboring Turkey.

Strategic oil pipeline no longer in Georgian territory

Russian tanks used the road during the 2008 conflict, moving to within 20 kilometers of Tblisi and exposing Georgia’s weaknesses.

Georgian politicians are worried by what Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili has called “creeping Russian annexation,” which leaves 1.6 kilometers of the BP-operated Baku-Supsa pipeline under Russian control.

The pipeline handles as many as 145,000 barrels of oil per day, transporting it from the Caspian oil fields in Azerbaijan to Georgia’s Black Sea terminal of Supsa. Both Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze and BP spokesperson Tamila Chatladze say that BP has not been able to reach the pipeline since the war in 2008. Chantladze emphasized that operations were continuing as normal.

BP’s chief spokesperson in Georgia also played down the issue. “It doesn’t change anything,” said Gia Gvaladze. “We don’t need physical access to maintain it.” The oil company has huge investments in Russia, and is undoubtedly trying to avoid ruffling any feathers in Moscow.

Russian influence on the rise following 2008 war

In 2008 tensions in the region rose due to clashes between Georgian troops and Russian-backed rebels in South Ossetia, which escalated into war with Russia after Georgia attempted to retake the restive province. After a short conflict, South Ossetia declared itself independent from Georgia, a move which was recognized by only a handful of countries including Russia.

Since then Moscow has entrenched itself in the region, signing a 5-year agreement to control South Ossetia’s border with Georgia in April 2009.

The Kremlin has not made any comment on the issue thus far, and commentators believe that this air of mystery is part of its strategy in Georgia just as it is in Ukraine.

In the absence of an official announcement from Moscow, we are left to speculate as to Russia’s motivations. Some believe that it may be expressing its opposition to Georgia joining NATO and the EU, just as it did with Ukraine. Joint U.S.-Georgian military exercises aimed at preparing for Tblisi’s accession to the alliance were criticized by Russian officials.

The appointment of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili as governor Ukraine’s Odessa province has also angered Russia. Saakashvili is famously pro-Western, and became a symbol for the movement against continued Russian influence in the former Soviet Union.

Matters became personal during the 2008 war, when Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to “hang Saakashvili by his balls.” His appointment in the key Ukrainian province of Odessa, which is next to Russian-annexed Crimea, caused consternation in Moscow.

Georgia short on options as EU leaders focus on Greece

The current Georgian government came to power promising to reduce tensions with Moscow, and this latest turn of events undermines its efforts. Instead of normalizing the situation, the Georgian Dream coalition government has seen Moscow further entrench its positions in South Ossetia and its fellow breakaway province of Abkhazia.

Although diplomatic ties are still suspended, Georgia’s special envoy to Russia, Zurab Abishidze, promised to bring up the “dangerous provocation” during a scheduled meeting with Russian officials this week.

The “creeping annexation” may be cause for outrage, but Georgia’s options are limited, and European leaders are still focused on Greece. The clearest illustration of the priorities of the EU came this week as the European council president, Donald Tusk, postponed a visit to Georgia because of the ongoing issues in Greece.

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About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at theflask@gmail.com

18 Comments on "Russia Redraws Georgia – South Ossetia Border"

  1. Ossetians manipulate with the fence within the administrative border of South Ossetia. Whatefer they do is illegal — not because the moved the line, but because their administrative and political activity is illegal even in the middle of the region.

    All they do is tempting Georgian side to provoke conflict in the vicinity of the oil pipe-line to give Adolf Putler another chance to escalate conflict.

    Unfortunately, Saakashvili’s supporters trigger a backlash once and again, as they did in 08.08.08.

  2. Where did you learn so much history? In the homeless shelter at Brooklyn?

  3. Why is it that the shell holes in the city point at the direction from where they were fired, that is to the North, or where the Russians were intruding.

    Ossetian citizen soldiers shot down an aircraft bombing the city. The video was being translated live by Russian NTV with the comments as if the aircraft was Georgian. No sooner had the camera approached the aircraft fragments, as the reporter squealed: “You shot down Russian aircraft!”

    Ossetians replied: “We do not give a f***k if it was Russian — we shot it down not because of that. We did it because it was bombing our homes.”

    Search | ??? ??????? ????? ??????? ??????? – 08.08.08
    | on U2b if you like.

  4. Don’t bother trying to feed me your warmonger ptopaganda. Most of the people in Ukraine killed, injured, forced to flee or live in catastrophic conditions were/are civilians. This was/is the work of the illegitimate Ukrainian government who seized power by coup. People in east Ukraine did not approve of this coup and were/are being punished for it long before a real resistance took hold. This situation is similar to the one at hand. You oversimplify and omit certain facts and details. In other words, you’re full of sh*t. You don’t need to refer me to a library. It’s because I search beyond the propaganda spewed at me on a daily basis that I know the truth.

  5. When your own citizens, backed by a foreign invasion force, take up arms against your government, you have every right to defend and reclaim that territory.

  6. The Georgians got caught shelling residential areas indiscriminately. It was ethnic cleansing. Russia normally might have declined to get involved, but the article probably is right about Russia wanting to retaliate for coupling up with the west.

  7. Viktor Tatarenko | Jul 17, 2015, 10:13 am at 10:13 am |

    All year long ongoing debates about who is to blame for the crash of the Boeing 777-200ER. There are 298 people in all. But there are many proven facts that clearly indicate. Russia and it`s terrorists are responsible for the biggest airplane crash of 21st century. Shame on Russia…R.I.P to all the victims of the aircrash…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ1stdMHxA4&feature=youtu.be

  8. Go to a library and read a bit of history to cure your ignorant statements.

  9. Georgia has the right to attack or judge like any other sovereign country (by force, if necessary) anyone that dares to use violence against its own territory. Learn some history, there is something called libraries and it is good to cure ignorance.

  10. Wtf you on about? South Ossetia and Abkhazia are sovereign territories of Georgia since thousands of years already. Georgia will recover them back because it is the duty of georgians to defend its sovereign territories against sparatist russian backed puppets. Go to a library and read a bit you ignorant piece of sh**!

  11. When Russians come to your territory to kill your people, judging by your religion it
    will be o’k since they kill not their own people.

    And you would not kill invaders of your own territory because “all bets are off”.
    ?? ???? ?? ?? ?????, ?????? ??? ???? ????????????? ? ???x????? ??????!

  12. When you kill people on your “own territory” all bets are off.

  13. Have you been on-site to state that the pipe line is no longer on Georgian territory?
    1) The pipe is 150 metres from the newly drawn illegal border — a barbed wire fence laid on a meadow.
    2) There has been a plan to move the pipe-line section southwards to avoid access to it form Russian-Ossetian gangs — it is 1,600 m long pipe section to be relocated.

  14. What a stupid you are, poor disguised Misha! It was Russian-Abkhazian and Russian-Ossetian engagement which cleansed the age-old Georgian lands from Georgians.

  15. Amiran, planti pepol likes Russia, specially Mr Putin, Ukraine never exist, Ukraine cam from Russia, Poland, and Hungary,you noose nothing abbot history.

  16. How can Georgia invade its own territory?

    You KremlinBot™ trolls are so moronic.

  17. Mike , just you to remind, nobody likes Russians, in fact everyone hates them, after what they have done to Georgia and they doing to Ukraine now, you should be more careful using words like “Payback” , Do you have any idea about history of Georgia ? I would suggest to stop listening Disgusting Russian propaganda about this event and overall about everything else, it’s just really disgusting ….

  18. Georgians don’t like Russia in it’s territory (according to them), well now they know how South Ossetians and Abkhzians felt when they invaded their lands and wanted to ethnically cleanse the territory! Payback is a b…!

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