Emerging Nations: Russian Comparative Perspective on Problems of Sovereignty and New Forms of Stateness in Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia


Emerging Nations: Russian Comparative Perspective on Problems of Sovereignty and New Forms of Stateness in Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia

Эксперты МГИМО: Ваславский Ян Ильич, к.полит.н., доцент


Sovereign states as we get them today emerged as landslide winners in a contest with demised empires, city-states, and trade leagues at the end of the Middle Ages. As Hendrik Spruyt puts it, sovereign territorial states offered a new, territorial way of the apprehension of political authority, instead of translocal perspective that had previously existed[1]. The 1648 Peace of Westphalia established the sovereign state as the principal political actor in the system of states. Yet, the number of sovereign states started to grow drastically only in the twentieth century after the foundation of the UN forethought as the structure with sovereign internationally-recognized state membership only and the acceleration of the decolonization process alongside with the wide use of self-determination principle[2].

The evolution of the international system after the end of the cold war has been, among other things, determined by such important trends as the decline of the role of nation-state in the world affairs and the rise of new actors pretending to acquire features inherent in the nation-state. The end of the cold war meant not only the collapse of the Soviet bloc and resulting change in the status of the US from one of the two superpowers to the only superpower on the globe; it also meant the removal of a very tight grip on the whole international system that the two superpowers exercised together. The weakening of this grip paved the way for the strengthening of, above all, other nation-states, both developed and developing, which gained more room for maneuvering in their foreign affairs. Second, it opened up new opportunities for regional and local actors to gain resources, receive ideological and other types of support. In fact, the focus of the international attention was turned from the superpowers’ duel with its nuclear-powered global chess and dispersed on a great number of conflicts with certainly lesser scope but, very often, with greater intensity.

Some of these conflicts now involve unrecognized or partially recognized states or territories, which have proved to be obstacles for the exercise of sovereignty by the existing nation-states. Under such obstacles I mean, first, difficulties for national governments to exercise unilateral control over the issues that are important to them, and, second, failure to operate without outside influence in their internal affairs[3]. One can also talk of threats to stateness and national security. Stateness is understood as the level of real (not formal) sovereignty, independence, and self-sufficiency in policymaking, and an ability of the state to maintain an efficient operation and replication of political, economic, social, and any other institutions[4]. Illegitimate institutions are likely to mean weak state, a hypothesis developed as far back as in 1961 by Karl Deutsch[5], and political participation in weak institutional conditions often threatens social order and state capacity[6]. The result here can be «contested state», the last stage before a complete state failure; it is characterized by low levels of legitimacy and authority of the government, low state capacity for governance, non-state affiliations and loyalties, violent politics, and the existence of many areas of society to which the writ of the state does not extend[7].

Partially recognized states, rivals of certain nation-states, strive to acquire all features inherent in sovereign states. Their elites aspire to become fully recognized and join the global club. Still, as they rest outside the mainstream and most often remain not recognized by a more or less considerable number of sovereign states, they present an alternative to them. Here I claim that this might be the case when lack of certain customary attributes reinforces and specifies their position on the international arena.

Sovereign states themselves differ in attitudes towards their rivals, as the latter often become playing cards in a global game for influence. Major powers like the US, European leaders, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and others have their own interests in different regions, with the Balkans and the Caucasus among them. Partial recognition of Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia proves the point. As the Russian Federation has supported Serbia and refused to recognize Kosovo, it has confronted the US and its allies on the issue. At the same time, it recognized and established diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two Georgian breakaway republics. The problem is that the American (and, partially, European) and Russian perspectives towards the problem are not equally presented and explained in the global information field, thus provoking not only misunderstanding, but even ignorance of important points of the position of the government of the Russian Federation on Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.

In addition, alongside with the official point of view of the Kremlin, Russian experts propose their own perspectives on these issues, and they differ in their approaches towards the problem. The cases mentioned receive most of public attention nowadays, and that is why we have them for study in this paper. Our research question is the motives and interests of Moscow in dealing with Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, as well as key points of the Russian perspective towards these cases. Why should such a question arise at all? The need to clarify the Russian position is evident because its misunderstanding is often based on the false assumption that Russian national interests are equal to those of some unrecognized territories (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) or certain states struggling with maintaining territorial integrity (Serbia). This and some other points are to be presented in detail below.

Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia: conflict dynamics

First of all, let us start with the conflict dynamics in the areas concerned, as it will be the necessary background for the analysis of national interests, positions, and foreign policies.

The removal of the superpower grip on the international system turned out to be a spark for conflicts both in the former Yugoslavian federation and the post-Soviet space, including Georgia. Political competition in the regions concerned became tougher, and spheres of influence of the world’s major players shifted. Long bloody conflicts started in both sub-regions, and they proved to be hardly manageable, let alone stoppable.

Practically all secessionist movements, notwithstanding many differences, have one thing in common: within a political entity there is always a group of people who want to secede in order to form an independent state or access to another entity[8]. Secession itself, thus, can be understood as a process of withdrawal of a territory and its population from an existing state and the creation of a new state on that territory[9]. With the removal of the superpower grip and changes in the balance of power, local actors, standing for secession, started gaining more supporters and resources, including help from abroad, and that undoubtedly served as a major cause for central authorities in Belgrade and Tbilisi losing control over secessionist regions.

As for the Kosovo case, the conflict was ignited when, during the breakup process of the Yugoslavian federation, a new Serbian constitution was adopted in 1990, which presumed much less autonomy for Kosovo. Local parliament, being already dissolved, adopted its own constitution, proclaiming Kosovo a republic. Serbian government used police and army to restore constitutional order and territorial integrity. The active phase of this conflict started in 1998, with serious clashes between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Serbian police and army. At that moment Kosovo leaders started searching for outside support, which came from NATO and the US. Negotiation strategy of the US was designed in order to make Slobodan Milosevic drive his forces out of Kosovo and make him either cede control over the rebellious region, in peaceful way or with the use of armed force[10]. In 1998–1999, Serbia lost almost all control over Kosovo, while NATO military presence paved the way for de-facto secession. As of January 2010, Kosovo was recognized by 64 UN member-states and Taiwan. The rest of the world continues to consider Kosovo an integral part of Serbia, as is underlined in its Constitution[11].

Abkhazia was declared an independent Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921, later in the same year it signed a treaty of federation with Georgia. In February 1931, it became an autonomous republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Legal and political controversies became really hot issues in Abkhazia at the breakup of the USSR. In 1989 a first major separatism wave rose, inspired by dissatisfaction of the Abkhazians of their place within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic during the times of the Soviet Union. After an attempt of Tbilisi to establish a branch of the Georgian State University in Sukhumi, student clashes took place, and only the introduction of a state of emergency prevented further escalation of the conflict and involvement of a greater number of people. Georgia declared independence in early 1991 and then, in March, ignored the USSR preservation referendum. Abkhazians first preferred to stay within the USSR, but then, when the collapse became actually inevitable, chose to become independent as well, that intention being strengthened by the Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s slogan «Georgia for Georgians». The ouster of Gamsakhurdia, which took place in early 1992, only inspired the Abkhazians in their intentions, as they felt Tbilisi was losing control over the country’s territory and becoming more concentrated on clashes of political elites. In July 1992, the Abkhazian parliament at a meeting boycotted by its Georgian deputies restored the 1925 Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic constitution, according to which Abkhazia was a sovereign state. As well as with the Serbian case, the Georgian government led by Eduard Shevardnadze tried to restore constitutional order and territorial integrity[12]. Defeat in Abkhazia almost led Georgia to full-scale civil war as Gamsakhurdia’s supporters, after successful offense, took under control a considerable territory in Western Georgia. With Georgians diverted to fight against Gamsakhurdia, the Abkhazian government restored its sovereignty over the breakaway republic, while Tbilisi lost it. In 1994, Russian peace-keeping troops, acting on behalf of the CIS, were deployed along the Inguri river, which divides Abkhazia and Georgia. Since 1993, Abkhazia has been ruled by its own government and parliament, its authorities have constantly been claiming for international recognition. The partial recognition came only 15 years later, when, after the conflict in South Ossetia, Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, later supported in this decision by Nicaragua[13]. As of January 2010, Abkhazia was recognized by four UN member-states — Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru, as well as by the Republic of Transnistria, a state that is not recognized by all UN members.

Tensions between the Georgians and the Ossetians go back to as far as 1918–1920, when the National Council of South Ossetia, created in 1917, called for granting the South Ossetians the right to free self-determination, with intention to finally join Soviet Russia. Georgia considered South Ossetia as a territory within its historical Shida-Kartli region and put down the rebellions that took place in 1918 and in 1919–1920. Results of the second military operation by the Georgians were thousands of refugees, deaths from famine and diseases. In 1990, the South Ossetian parliament labeled this operation as genocide. A year before, in 1989, the parliament declared South Ossetia an autonomous republic. This decision was labeled «unconstitutional» by the Georgian parliament, but it did not stop the South Ossetians from declaring a sovereign republic. Subsequent Georgian attempts to take South Ossetia under control, either by force or by political decisions, including the abolishment of the autonomy, did not succeed. It was not only because of the Ossetian resistance that prevented Georgians from restoring control over the breakaway republic, but also due to instability in Georgia itself, namely the above-mentioned rebellion in Western Georgia led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his supporters. In 1992, a referendum was held in South Ossetia, with ninety-eight percent of the republic’s population approving the parliament’s decisions on independence and «reunification» with Russia. Later in the same year, joint peacekeeping forces (comprising Georgians, Russians, and Ossetians) were introduced to the zone of the conflict. A victory of Eduard Kokoity at the 2001 South Ossetian presidential election and the «Revolution of roses» in Georgia put an end to a slow but evolutionary peace process in the region, with a significant rise in the number of provocations from both sides. New Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili chose a coercive approach and military operation as means to settle the South Ossetian issue; the conflict culminated in the 2008 war and Georgian defeat after Russia cut in on the South Ossetian side. On August 26, 2008 Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent state, with diplomatic relations established on September 9. In its decision Russia has since been followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Transnistria (the latter state is not recognized by all UN members).

Kosovo seems to be more advanced on the way of achieving international recognition, though Abkhazia and South Ossetia may catch up with it gradually. Kosovo looks better in this way mainly due to US and majority of EU countries’ support, but Abkhazia, too, has its trump cards. Russia’s recognition is more than just a formal act; it is rather a strong regional leader’s backing. Moreover, authorities in Abkhazia have been more successful than those in Kosovo in designing and using political institutions and practices, emphasizing historical prerequisites for independence, and, finally, exercising sovereignty over their own territory, giving the way for national development.

One more important thing to mention is that with Kosovo’s and Abkhazia’s independence being partially recognized, a risk of territorial disputes on ethnic and even other grounds has risen, giving non-state (at least, yet) actors more reasons to claim for sovereignty, independence, external support, and international recognition. Such developments may result in severe consequences for sovereign states having multiethnic social structure and ethnic regions on their territories. To be precise, it may be a major threat to, for example, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and even Spain, to name only a few. The potential of this threat can remain latent until periods of serious political and other types of crises, and, with a sovereign state being in a vulnerable position, become a menace for national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and constitutional order.

Kosovo: Russian perspective

Undoubtedly common ethnic and religious backgrounds are among fundamental factors explaining why Russia has favored Serbia on the Kosovo issue since the very beginning. At the same time, one should not forget about realpolitik and Russian interests in Europe and in the Balkan region. It is no wonder that Russia, as one of the major European actors, has always tried to participate in the process of agenda formation and implementation in the politics of the continent. In September, 2005, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Draskovic pointed out that «Russia saw no alternative to the europeanization of the Balkans»[14]. Such europeanization, according to Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman, meant full protection for ethnic minorities in Kosovo and preservation of state borders of Serbia and Montenegro (at the time) with Albania and Macedonia[15]. In other words, as Russian representative at the EU headquarters in Brussels Vladimir Chizhov put it, «one should not create new dividing lines» in the Balkans[16].

Thus, Russia does not see any contradiction between the process of the europeanization of the Balkans and the leading role of the UN and its Security Council in the Kosovo conflict settlement. At the same time, it is understood differently in Europe, as europeanization for Brussels means taking on the leadership when it comes to building peace in Europe’s most uneasy subregion. For Russia, the EU leadership means deviation from the principle that the key role in regulation and settling such conflicts should, first of all, belong to global organizations like the UN, because such a way ensures participation of the whole international community and creates an opportunity for issuing binding and legitimate decisions through the UN Security Council, which may be crucial for a successful settlement of a number of longstanding and destructive conflicts in the Balkans.

Still, external factors should be put aside at some point of our analysis. It is obvious that one of the fundamental reasons of Serbia’s loss of Kosovo was its (Serbia’s) insufficient stateness, i.e. inability to exercise sovereign power over the breakaway region. Even Serbian politicians in Kosovo before the declaration of independence agreed that there was no return to the situation which had existed before 1999, when Slobodan Milosevic had deprived the region of its autonomy and resorted to force, both these actions causing thousands of Albanians to flee and the international community to intervene[17].

It was expected that Russia could take a certain position shortly after the proclamation of Kosovo independence, especially in the light of a possible bargaining with the West over the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Still, with Kosovo independence claimed but declared illegal by Belgrade and only partially recognized, Russia hesitates which of the two major principles of the international law should dominate in its foreign policy, either territorial integrity of a state and inviolability of borders, or national self-determination and rights of minorities. What reasons prevent Russian foreign policy-makers from accepting one of the options? As it was mentioned above, Serbia itself, allied and orthodox, may be a reason, but Russian own interests often do not always stand in the same line. Another reason here may be the territorial configuration of the Russian Federation itself, with 83 regions, out of which more than a dozen have Non-Russian ethnic majorities. Unlike the US, Russia does not fully absorb people with different ethnic origin into a common «melting pot». Ethnic separatist or secessionist interests of certain forces in the Russian regions, now not on the top of the political agenda, may, at some concourse of circumstances, as it already happened before, come out on the surface and become a threat to territorial integrity and national security of the Russian Federation.

Russian official position on the Kosovo issue is mainly based on the Resolution /about/news/experts///about/news/experts//#1244 of the UN Security Council which back in 1999 put Kosovo under the UN administration. Unilateral proclamation of independence by the temporary self-governing bodies of Kosovo is in direct contradiction with international law, including the above-mentioned resolution. It is now another matter, though, that Kosovo is almost unlikely to become an ordinary Serbian region again, and some new, comprehensive solutions are needed in order to achieve international compromise on the matter. UN mechanisms and procedures are still seen as a hard but inevitable alternative if all principles of international law are to be respected and the world community is to participate without any discrimination in the conflict settlement in order to produce legitimate solutions binding upon all parties.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Russian perspective

As it was pointed out above, Russian national interests are a matter of its own and not the same as those of unrecognized states. A major concern for Moscow is maintaining stability in such an explosive (in all senses) region as the Caucasus. Thus, the strategic aim and interest is to manage, freeze or resolve conflicts which, as a dense web, tie all the Caucasus area, from the Russian Federation’s national republics in the Caucasus to parts of other CIS states and breakaway republics. Ongoing instability has so far brought only problems to Russia, as conflicts on the post-Soviet space fed separatism with concomitant terrorism inside Russia itself, putting new threats to its stateness and national security.

Today an escalation of a number of conflicts is evident in the region, with not only Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia involved, but also Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan all having their own perspectives on the future configuration and the balance of power in the Caucasus. The high conflict potential of the Caucasus is partially predetermined by the fact that states comprising it are mainly ethnically homogeneous or have areas which are densely inhabited by distinct national communities. Reasons and circumstances at which groups moved to one area or another should be considered and deeply studied in order to avoid misjudgments at policy-making level, as, having started as small sparks, conflicts in the Caucasus have all chances to grow into full-scale wars with hardly predictable outcomes and destruction. Certain instability is inherent and natural for politics in the Caucasus, as is claimed by Vladimir Degoyev[18], and this instability needs to be correctly managed, including the participation of intermediaries and the creation of conditions for mutual adaptation for various groups present in the region.

The Caucasus is also an area of US strategic interest[19] and appropriate activities in the countries situated here. Besides, interest towards Caucasus has been expressed by the EU[20] and other members of the international community like oil- and gas-exporting Arab states seeking ways to control potential competitors in the Caucasus region. Thus, implementing its own policies in the Caucasus Russia has to take into account actions of other countries aimed at the realization of their foreign policy goals.

Russia is often presented as a giant striving to expand its borders and absorb everything around where instability is present. At the same time, one should take into account that, taking in, for instance, South Ossetia, Russia also gets a bunch of problems of two main sorts. As Russian expert Sergei Markedonov[21] puts it, the first one is connected with Georgian villages mixed up with Ossetian ones in the southern part of South Ossetia. Therefore, the issues likely to emerge are Georgian separatism and irredentism. The second sort of problems is the integration of South Ossetians not simply into the Russian society, but, speaking narrower, into the Ossetian society. From the perspective of nation-building, problems of inter-Ossetian relations are almost inevitable. Moreover, as many North Ossetians claim, ethnic nationalism and Russophobe attitudes are much more common among South Ossetians.

As for the Abkhazians, they tend to prefer not acceding to Russia but their own independent state with political, economic, military and other types of support from Moscow. The Friendship Treaty between Sukhumi and Moscow, signed in September 2009, is evidence to this point. As of 2009, such a treaty seems to be the closest degree of integration with Russia most of Abkhazians would accept, as they do not at all want to get involved in Russian domestic politics with its bureaucracy and, quite often, corruption[22], especially taking into account that the Abkhazians have similar problems of their own. Andrei Zagorskiy, professor from Moscow-based MGIMO-University, points that Abkhazia has created firm institutions of state power and has been self-governed quite effectively, while South Ossetia has been living mainly on Russian aid[23]. Opposite points of view also exist in Russia: a Caucasus expert Zurab Todua claims that «neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia can be called sovereign states today as they are unable neither to conduct their own foreign policy nor to raise their economies to a level of self-sufficiency»[24].

Another important observation can be made at a glance at Georgia’s standing and actions. Provocative policy of Georgian authorities in the early 1990s did not help settle the Abkhazian and South Ossetian issues. Russia did not manage to co-operate productively with Gamsakhurdia due to direct participation in separation of the warring parties and also due to certain personal characteristics of the Georgian leader. Next president, Eduard Shevarnadze, did not succeed in improving the country’s economy and only worsened the relations with the Abkhazian leaders after an attempt to return Abkhazia under control by force[25]. Many analysts in Russia agree that the Georgian state has almost failed after the «Revolution of Roses»[26], as the national economy is struggling, and the government has failed to restore control over the breakaway republic of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian historian Natalya Narochnitskaya claims that neither of the Georgian governments since the early 1990s has proposed to the former autonomies attractive options for co-existence[27]. Such a situation, from Russia, is often seen as a more dangerous threat to security in the region than other scenarios, including the one providing for the recognition of independence of both republics. Georgian elites have been unable to conduct cohesive policies aimed at softening the regional confrontation, thus making Russian decision-makers to reassess their approaches and attitudes towards Tbilisi. Developments in the Southern Caucasus also influence Russian domestic politics, especially in its southern regions, and that is why Russia cannot and does not want to exclude itself from the regional interaction.

One may claim that in comparison with South Ossetia, Abkhazia has been more successful in nation- and state-building. First, Abkhazians live mostly on the territory of Abkhazia, and, second, long-time ethnic discrimination from Georgia has stimulated their self-determination[28]. Abkhazians and Georgians differ in their ethnic origins, as the former are closer to the Adygei people living in the north-western part of Caucasus and belong to a broader North Caucasian language family having nothing in common with the South Caucasian language family that includes Georgians[29]. At the same time, the process of nation-building in Abkhazia may be hampered by developments in the Gali district, ethnically dominated by Mingrelians, a subethnic group of Georgians. Megrelians, who fled Abkhazia in the early 1990s, returned gradually in two waves (in 1994–1995 and after 1998). Abkhazian leaders chose the way of incorporating Megrelians in the social, economic, and political life of the republic, having preferred it to ethnic cleansings (that is, at least, moving Megrelians again to Georgia) and to preserving the status-quo, which seemed to mean a deadlock. Started in 2004, the new assimilation policy has proved quite effective, as Megrelians actively participated in the 2004 Abkhazian presidential election. Loyalty towards Sukhumi in the Gali district is also stimulated by activities of Abkhazian non-governmental organizations which conduct a number of humanitarian projects.

De-facto living separately from Georgia for many years, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have yet been recognized only by Russia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Some Russian experts, including Vadim Mukhanov[30], believe that other states may follow in the nearest future, for instance, Belarus, Armenia, and certain countries of Latin America and the Middle East, the latter thanks to significant Abkhaz and Cherkess disporas ready to exercise their leverage and vow for recognition from their respective countries[31]. Kirill Tanaev[32] thinks that Russian recognition is enough for at least achieving stability in the region, because it has ceased the bloodshed[33]. It is clear, though, that full international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as of Kosovo, will be necessary in the process of effective institution-building and conducting independent domestic and foreign policies. One thing is clear all the same and widely agreed upon in Russia: neither of the breakaway republics is going to return to its previous, «pre-independence» status.

In my opinion, rethinking security, sovereignty, and justice, means that the world’s scholars and practitioners must seek ways to support internally stable and externally friendly political entities, able to exercise sovereignty within their borders and act as decent members of the international community. At the same time, with Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and certain other non- or partially recognized states on their way to international recognition, the world has to adapt to the new reality, where return to previous status is almost impossible, and new approaches towards unrecognized states have to be developed. Such approaches should promote ease of tensions around these states in international relations, simultaneously not creating paths for potential similar moves by other actors willing to gain independence, as such a trend could add many more problems to the current changing international system, form new dangerous threats and intensify local and regional conflicts.

Презентация доклада

[1]Hendrik Spruyt, The sovereign state and its competitors: an analysis of systems change (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 77.

[2]In 1945, UN had fifty-one members, while in 2008 the number grew up to 192.

[3]Kyle Bagwell and Robert Staiger, The Sovereignty of Nations, (Columbia University, University of Wisconsin, 2003), 1.

[4]Andrei Melville et al., Political Atlas of the Modern World, (Moscow: MGIMO University Press, Preprint, 2009), 15.

[5]Karl Deutsch, «Social Mobilization and Political Development», American Political Science Review, no. 55 (1961): 493-514.

[6]Gerald Helman and Steven Ratner, «Saving Failed States», Foreign Policy, no. 89 (Winter 1992-1993): 3-20.

[7]Olga Oliker and Thomas Szayna (eds.), Faultlines of Conflict in Central Asia and the South Caucasus: implications for the US army (RAND: Arroyo Center, 2003), 11–12.

[8]Rein Müllerson, «Precedents in the Mountains: On the Parallels and Uniqueness of the Cases in Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia», Chinese Journal of International Law, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2009): 4.

[9]Alexander Pavković and Peter Radan, Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession (Ashgate: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2007), 1.

[10]In October 1998, Milosevic, after long negotiations with the US envoy Richard Holbrooke, signed an agreement which let NATO air patrol over Kosovo and legalized the presence of two thousand OSCE observers in the region; besides, in Rambouillet Milosevic was forced to choose between the Albanian version of the final agreement and NATO air strikes. He refused that version of the agreement, and in 1999 NATO started its military operation.

[11]Constitution of Serbia, Government of Serbia, http://www.srbija.gov.rs/cinjenice_o_srbiji/ustav.php?change_lang=en (accessed 19 October, 2009).

[12]That attempt was initially successful in 1992, and the Abkhazian government was forced to move to the town of Gudauta, closer to Russian border. After regrouping and receiving support from the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Northern Caucasus, the Abkhazian forces launched a counter-offensive and managed to restore control over the lost territory a year later.

[13]Such a move by Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega is widely presumed as populist being made in the light of his confrontation with the US, which actively supported Georgian regime of Mikhail Saakashvili during the times of the Bush administration.

[14]«Russian Foreign Minister: no alternative to «Europeanization» of Balkans», RIA Novosti Information Agency, September 14, 2005, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20050914/41389033.html (accessed October 13, 2009).

[15]«Russian Foreign Minister».

[16]«Remarks by Ambassador Vladimir A. Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Communities at the 26th International Workshop on Global Security, Istanbul, June 27, 2009», Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/e78a48070f128a7b43256999005bcbb3/a2e42ffdcf01d85cc32575eb00273663?OpenDocument (accessed October 13, 2009).

[17]Anton Ulunyan, «Kosovo Will Try Different Paths», http://www.prognosis.ru/news/secure/2005/11/3/kosovo.html (accessed October 13, 2009).

[18]Vladimir Degoyev is the head of the Centre of Caucasian Studies at MGIMO-University (Moscow, Russia).

[19]Jim Nichol, «Armenia Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. interests», CRS Issue Brief for Congress, http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/67154.pdf (accessed October 19, 2009), 5, 15.

[20]Commission of the Communities, «European Neighborhood Policy. Strategy Paper», (Brussels: 2004).

[21]Sergei Markedonov is deputy chief of the Department of the Problems of Interethnic Relations at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis.

[22]Markedonov Sergei, «Who Needs the Unrecognized?» http://www.prognosis.ru/news/secure/2006/4/25/aop.html (accessed October 19, 2009).

[23]Andrei Zagorskiy, «Putin on South Ossetia», /news/experts/document119499.phtml (accessed October 19, 2009).

[24]Zagorskiy, «Putin on South Ossetia»

[25]Vladimir Zakharov and Andrei Areshev, Recognition of Independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Moscow: MGIMO University Press: 2008), 23.

[26]Khramchikhin Alexander, «South Ossetia: If War Starts Tomorrow», http://www.prognosis.ru/news/secure/2006/2/15/ga.html (accessed October 19, 2009).

[27]Zagorskiy, «Putin on South Ossetia»

[28]Markedonov Sergei, «Unrecognized Abkhazia Will Be Recognized», http://www.prognosis.ru/news/world/2005/7/29/suhumi.html (accessed October 19, 2009).

[29]Zakharov and Areshev, Recognition of Independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, 33.

[30]Vadim Mukhanov is senior research fellow at the Centre of Caucasian Studies at MGIMO-University (Moscow, Russia).

[31]Vadim Mukhanov, «After Venezuela, Abkhazia and South Ossetia May Be Recognized by a Number of Middle East States», /news/experts/document120561.phtml (accessed October 19, 2009).

[32]Kirill Tanaev is Director-General of the Fund of Effective Policy (Moscow, Russia).

[33]Igor Ermanchenkov, «Russia Has Benefited From the Recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia», http://www.finam.ru/analysis/forecasts00EC6 (accessed October 19, 2009).

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