ISSN 2330-717X

Most Russians Have Simply Forgotten The 2008 War Against Georgia – OpEd

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Readers of the Russian blogosphere or foreign policy journals might assume that the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, the tenth anniversary of the beginning of which was today, is a central issue in Russia because of its long-term consequences for Russia, her neighbors and the West, Mikhail Vinogradov says.

But in fact, the Moscow commentator continues, few Russians outside of Facebook and these other publications have just about forgotten this war. “They are neither proud nor ashamed.” Instead, they simply recall it if at all as one of a continuing series of military actions by the current Russian government (rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/08/08/1723314.html).

Vinogradov offers six hypotheses which he stresses are not mutually exclusive to explain this development:

  • “All wars after 1945 are viewed as insufficiently great, insufficiently real, insufficiently just, and insufficiently turning points.”
  • For most Russians, victory in Russia did not have any immediate consequences.
  • That conflict in their eyes simply fixed the status quo ante rather than established something new. Thus, it was all about maintaining a boring “frozen conflict.”
  • Moscow didn’t do what it did with Crimea and incorporate Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Instead, it stopped short, yet another reason that Russians today don’t view it as significant.
  • Russians prefer to look back to the great victory of 1945 and thus don’t think about any conflicts since then that much.
  • And when they are forced to think about Georgia, Russians don’t view the 2008 war as very shameful or as very heroic. Instead, it remains for them a conflict like any other.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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