By Paul Goble
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.