• Geneva 1936, 2008

    A Russian diplomatic landmine exploded international talks on the future of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia last week in Geneva.

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  • Stalemate in the Caucasus? Think Cyprus, Not Kosovo

    There has been a good deal of  talk about the Kosovo precedent in discussions about what to do next with regard to Georgia, Russia and the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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  • Bound to Fail: International Mediation in Georgia

    UN Headquarters Geneva

    It was no surprise that that international discussions on the security and stability arrangements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke down on October 15.

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  • Piracy’s Silver Lining?

    I recently outlined the growing challenge to international commerce and security posed by the burgeoning piracy in the waters off the Somali coast and lamented that it looked unlikely that the international community would muster the political will to confront the underlying causes of the pirate phenomenon. Nonetheless, there may be an upside to the crisis:  An opportunity for Russia and the West to work together.

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  • Post-Conflict Georgia


    Shortly after the release of the Atlantic Council’s report, Restoring Georgia’s Sovereignty in Abkhazia, Russia invaded Georgia and war broke out over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The United States and its European partners were put to the test; Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia not only challenged Georgia’s sovereignty, but by demonstrating its willingness to use military action, Moscow also sent a message about Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations as well as the viability of energy transport projects running from the Caspian, through Georgia, to western markets.

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  • Georgia Crisis: A View From Russia

    Eighteen months ago I published an op-ed in the Washington Post, where I urged the prevention of a new Cold War.  And only a couple of months ago it seemed possible.  But since the Georgian-Russian war last month, the situation has drastically deteriorated.

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  • Georgia Crisis Reverberates to Latin America

    Sitting in Bogota, I didn’t expect to see Colombian television coverage of the four-ship Russian squadron departing Severmorsk. After all, Colombia is very much focused on consolidating its recent gains against the narcoterrorist group FARC. There is now tremendous optimism in Colombia with a series of successes that began with a spring operation that killed the FARC deputy Raul Reyes and a summer operation that recovered three American hostages, Ingrid Betancourt, and eleven others. It was strange to me that the Caucasus should matter in Colombia, but to overuse a phrase, the world is interconnected now.

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  • Wake Up, Gassiev is Calling!

    Wake Up, Gassiev is Calling!

    In the predawn hours of August 7, Russia invaded Georgia.  Gassiev, a border guard of the separatist regime in the Georgian territory of South Ossetia, was at the southern end of the Roki Tunnel that leads from Russia.  At 3:52 a.m., he used his mobile telephone to tell his supervisor: “The armor and people . . . 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.”  The intercepted telephone call, first reported in the September 16 New York Times, explodes the myth that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili precipitated Russia’s assault on Georgia with an ill-conceived attack on Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia.

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  • Russia Back in the Game: It’s the West’s Move

    With its invasion of Georgia, Russia demonstrated the determination to “come back into the game” in style. Regenerated through the surge of energy prices, Russia’s leaders want to make up their losses from the 1990s and get payback for the accompanying humiliation. Her aggressive policies, heralded by the political use of the energy weapon starting in 2006, have been beefed up now with a willingness to openly employ military might.

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  • NATO's Tunnel Vision: Seeing Beyond Russia

    Perusing the media reports after the meeting of NATO defense ministers in London, I was most struck by what did not appear.

    For instance, no apparent discussion about what is a growing threat to the economic security of the entire Euro-Atlantic world—the increasing ability of both "rogue states" and non-state actors (warlords, rebels and terrorist groups) to disrupt the shipping lanes that are vital to the prosperity of every Western state. Should Iran prove its ability to close, even for a short time, the straits of Hormuz; if pirates operating in the Red Sea cripple or destroy an oil tanker; if continued rebel attacks further reduce the supply of energy coming from the Gulf of Guinea—the ramifications would be quite serious. Already, the navies of individual NATO countries have begun to increase their activities to ensure that some of the most vital waterways remain safe for passage.

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