Tamara Wright (Georgia/UK, AC06-08)
The conflict started at the end of the soviet times and since we (Georgia) broke away and got our independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia hasn’t been happy with the fact that we’re a democracy functioning without their rule. Vladmir Putin., the Russian Prime Minister, is especially soviet-thinking and claims that the biggest catastrophe in European history was the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At present with talks of Georgia joining NATO, it’s irritating Russia even more. If we join, Ukraine will follow and you just have to take a look at the map to see that Russia will get more and more isolated as countries around it get more and more westernized. As the president of Georgia, Saakashvili, is pro-western and very close to George Bush, Putin gets more and more annoyed and feels he is losing control over Georgia and all the other ex-soviet spheres of influence. However, this is an ongoing thing and one which I can’t see an end to; it will always go on and possibly get worse if Georgia officially lost the two conflict regions.
From my knowledge South Ossetia, which is a part of Georgia was before officially called Ossetia. North Ossetia was called something else back in the soviet days. The people who live in South Ossetia were Georgians and ethnic Ossetians. We allowed them to live peacefully in Georgia and that’s how it was for a long time; really peaceful. Then Stalin decided to change the names of Ossetia and the other part to name it South Ossetia and North Ossetia to create conflict in this area in the future, giving him more control over a now divided Georgia. This, I believe, he managed to do!
It’s not so much the Ossetians who don’t want to be a part of Georgia, the Russian government and its propaganda brainwashes the Ossetian population to dislike Georgia. They did the same in Abkhazia, the other conflict region. Therefore people want to be a part of Russia as they believe this will lead to eventual independence. If one knows what happened in Chechnya, it’s a similar story here – Russia will promise independence to them and of course have no intention of keeping the promise, it’s purely political trickery.
Right now Russia feels more powerful than ever; owning about 40% of Europe’s gas and oil reserves, most of Europe depends on them – especially Germany. Therefore they aren’t really scared of anything and people in Georgia who are anti-Saakashvili have wanted him to step down, but at this moment it would actually be bad if he did, because Russia would see that they have defeated us, that we’re not united and much easier to crush. Those, however, who follow the president are, in my opinion, just ignorant people who don’t know better – our president is swearing at Russia and telling Putin that Georgia can’t be defeated. This is rubbish because we don’t even have a proper army.
The Russians are using illegal bombs, some special kind of “thermo-bomb” and they have bombed more than you can imagine. So many people have died and all the refugees from all the regions in Georgia have come to the capital city and are now living in schools and universities. School has been delayed until November. Everything is a mess.
I don’t know where this conflict will lead to but everyone in Georgia is suspecting a 3rd world war. Russian television shows a Russia very different to the BBC or CNN or any western channels. They are not afraid of anything and they are talking about getting back all spheres of influence and ex-soviet states, so Poland should be and is worried too.
The U.S is helping us out but I don’t think anyone will risk a war for Georgia. However, I do think this has got to a much bigger scale now and that it will affect other countries, possibly in the Middle East. Now, that the US is concentrated on Georgia, is there anything stopping for example Iran from attacking Israel, just as it has always wanted to?
-United World College Student Magazine-