After several months of high diplomatic tension, open armed conflict broke out between Russia and Georgia in early August 2008 over the fate of South Ossetia, an autonomous region of Georgia, whose independence Moscow has recognized and supports. Abkhazia, another autonomous region of Georgia, followed South Ossetia's lead, proclaiming independence and receiving Russia's support in its turn. Under pressure from the international community, which supports Georgia and the preservation of Georgian territorial unity, the fighting has subsided, but the problem remains. Moscow is trying to persuade other countries to recognize the independence of these two territories and the conflict could spread to other former Soviet lands. Is war at Europe's gates?
Jean-François Drevet offers a brief survey of the state of the Caucasian region, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Balkan powder keg. He outlines the way Russia is operating in this region with "methods that have unfortunate antecedents" - and hint that Moscow may be tempted to reconquer its fallen empire. In this context, the international community is trying to calm matters, as is the European Union - which is now very greatly concerned, since only the width of the Black Sea separates it from the conflict zone - though it is probably doing so with insufficient firmness.
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