Georgia

  • How the US Can Fight Russian Disinformation for Real

    For the past three years, I have been on the front lines of the information war, most recently in Ukraine, Lithuania, and Georgia. I have worked alongside, interviewed and briefed policymakers throughout the region, and these experiences have presented a grim picture: the United States is abdicating its leadership in countering Russian disinformation.

    Where we ought to be setting the rules of engagement, the tone, and the moral compass in responding to Russia’s information war, the United States has been a tardy, timid, or tertiary player, with much of our public servants’ good work on this issue stymied by domestic politicization. Disinformation is not a political issue; it is a democratic one.

    Beyond that challenge, the United States has not invested sufficient resources to be competitive in the fight against disinformation. Russian information warfare continues to target the United States and our allies, as well as the rules-based international order. However, countering it has not been a budgetary priority.


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  • Georgia Protests are Not a Showcase of Russophobia

    On June 20, thousands of Georgians took to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, to express their disapproval of a Russian lawmaker addressing the Georgian parliament from the speaker’s chair. Sergei Gavrilov, a Russian State Duma deputy and president of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, visited Georgia for the convening of the organization’s 26th General Assembly, an event designed to foster relations between Orthodox Christian lawmakers. The procession, however, was cut short by opposition politicians who doused Gavrilov with water before he was escorted out of the building.


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  • It’s Time to Invite Georgia to Join NATO

    On a visit to Tbilisi in March, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated a decade-old promise: Georgia will eventually join the Western military alliance. However, despite Stoltenberg’s comments, there is little discernible evidence to suggest membership for Georgia is in the cards.

    At NATO’s Bucharest Summit in 2008, the Alliance welcomed the transatlantic aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine and agreed that both countries will eventually become members of NATO. Since then, Georgia has taken meaningful political, economic, and military steps westward.


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  • US Sen. Chris Murphy Warns Allies to Be Vigilant About the ‘Quiet Things’ Russia is Doing

    Says Russia funding ‘fight clubs and biker clubs’ in the Baltic States to exploit domestic instability

    US Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on April 3 warned NATO allies to be “constantly vigilant about the very quiet things that the Russians are doing that could ultimately lead to a traditional military confrontation.”

    Pointing to Russian support for “fight clubs and biker clubs” inside the Baltic States, Murphy said they are “just there waiting for some kind of domestic instability to allow for an opportunity to do in a NATO country what the Russians have successfully done inside Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in Ukraine.”


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  • Complications in Tbilisi’s Friendship with Kyiv

    Georgia and Ukraine have become close political allies over the last two decades. That closeness may be currently under threat, however. Despite the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s groundbreaking autocephaly, or independence, from the Russian Orthodox Church at the beginning of 2019, the Georgian Orthodox Church has failed to congratulate Ukrainian authorities or take any official position on the move, which also reveals tensions within the Georgian Orthodox Church. Given the importance of the Orthodox Churches in both Georgia and Ukraine, Tbilisi’s lasting silence on Ukrainian autocephaly could spill over into political affairs, and create a schism in diplomatic relations and strategic cooperation between the countries. 


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  • An Uncertain Future for Georgian Democracy

    The election of Salome Zurabishvili as Georgia’s next president serves as a dual landmark in Georgian history: she will be the first woman to assume the office and presumably the last to do so by popular vote. In her election night victory speech on November 28, Zurabishvili took an important, positive step by acknowledging the need to reach out to those who didn’t vote for her after a very tough and divisive race. By doing so, she seemed to aspire to what parliament said it intended through its 2017 constitutional changes in the role of the president: to transcend party politics and represent the nation as the ceremonial head of state, while transitioning from the choice of citizens to that of elected officials.

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  • The West Has an Opportunity, Yet Again, to Push Back Against Russia

    In August of 2008, Russia used separatist proxies in South Ossetia to attack Georgian villages near the city of Tskhinvali. The attack provoked a Georgian military response, which Moscow used as a pretext for a largescale invasion and occupation of Georgian territories.

    Russia did not embark on that military adventure simply to occupy Georgian territories. It had a more important strategic goal in mind—to prevent an eastern enlargement of NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin calculated, correctly as it turned out, that the Russian commitment to keep Georgia out of NATO was much greater than the Western commitment to Georgia’s security.

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  • Georgia, Where Everything Old Is Maybe New Again?

    On October 28, Georgians went to the polls to elect their fifth president, possibly for the last time. Neither candidate, both former foreign ministers, won outright. An unprecedented run-off is slated for December 2.   

    The United National Movement (UNM) presidential candidate Grigol Vashadze achieved an unexpectedly strong showing (37.7 percent) against the ruling Georgian Dream party backed candidate (38.6 percent) Salome Zurabishvili. The outcome belies the current level of one-party rule and presents a surprise proxy rematch between political personalities which have defined the national landscape since 2011. Six years after defeating Misha Saakashvili’s UNM in parliamentary elections, Georgian Dream grey cardinal and oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili may be losing his Midas touch. 

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  • #ElectionTracker: No, the United States Isn't the Only Country Getting Ready To Vote

    Scan the headlines these days and you would be forgiven for thinking that the United States is the only country preparing for an important election. As seemingly all attention focuses on voters from the Atlantic to the Pacific don’t lose sight of some other contests around the world. Here is a look at the races we are watching in the runup to the US midterms.

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  • The New Cold War Could Learn a Lot from the Old One

    Territories between great powers—borderlands—have always been areas of strife. So it is with the countries caught between Russia and the West, those that were once part of the Soviet Union or firmly within its sphere of influence. Much of Europe has consolidated and, with the United States, established a lasting liberal democratic order, but Russia has been increasingly pushing back. Though most of the “borderlands” countries are now West-facing, Moscow wants to control at least the national security policies of its near neighbors.

    The West should reject Moscow’s claim.

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