ISSN 2330-717X

Putin’s Moves On Ukraine Prompt South Ossetia To Seek To Join Russia – OpEd

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The leadership of South Ossetia, which with the assistance of the Russian military broke away from the Republic of Georgia in 2008, welcomes Russia’s decision to admit the DNR and LNR as federal subjects of the Russian Federation and hopes to do the same thing via a referendum possibly as early as May or June of this year.

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Russian senators and Duma deputies welcome that appeal and say they’ll work to facilitate it (doshdu.com/prezident-juzhnoj-osetii-zajavil-o-vhozhdenii-v-sostav-rf/,  eadaily.com/ru/news/2022/03/30/nuzhen-tolko-referendum-klimov-o-vhozhdenii-yuzhnoy-osetii-v-rossiyu and gumilev-center.ru/referendum-o-vkhozhdenii-yuzhnojj-osetii-v-sostav-rf-mozhet-projjti-v-mae-iyune/).

But many South Ossetians are anything but sure, including several hundred South Ossetian troops which were sent to Ukraine but returned home saying that the conflict there was “not their war” and that their absence from their homeland left the republic at risk of an attack by Georgia (trtrussian.com/magazine/voennye-iz-yuzhnoj-osetii-pokidayut-ukrainu-i-obeshayut-rasskazat-pravdu-8415034).

In addition, Georgia has taken a very tough line against the annexation of South Ossetia (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/374764/and semnasem.org/articles/2022/03/31/chto-pishut-v-socsetyah-o-vozmozhnom-prisoedinenie-yuzhnoj-osetii-k-rossii-i-reakcii-na-eto-gruzii), and Abkhazia, while supportive of South Ossetia, shows no interest in following suit, Russian experts on the region doubt that Moscow will agree to absorb South Ossetia (newcaucasus.com/news/21157-yuzhnaya-osetiya-za-vhozhdenie-v-sostav-rf-abhaziya-protiv.html).

Another Anschluss, this time in the Caucasus, would likely be a bridge too far for Moscow, the experts suggest, destabilizing the region and mobilizing the West to support Georgia possibly up to the point of offering Tbilisi a membership action plan to join NATO, exactly the opposite of what the Kremlin wants.

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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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