Georgia Inches Closer

by Joshua Foust on 5/8/2008

Abkhazia is claiming to have shot down yet another drone, this time by a surprisingly advanced anti-aircraft system.

While Abkhaz officials claim they are just defending their sovereign territory, Georgian officials are claiming Russia is trying to bait them into a war. It is a very serious charge: shooting down aircraft is an act of war.

But the big stumbling block here is the timing. This is right as Dmitri “the bear” Medvedev is taking the reigns of Russia gingerly handed off by Vladimir Putin. Much like Putin’s campaign in Chechnya, which was meant to demonstrate his strength and power as much as “solving” the separatist movement (though mass killings do the trick too), this smacks of Russia creating a spectacle just to prove that it can.

Like it or not on their end, Abkhazia is utterly reliant on Moscow for direction, funding, and support. Now that Russia has significantly increased its military presence in the region, there is even more reason to assume they chose right now because of Russia’s concerns, and not their own (they could have been shooting down drones at any time).

So even if this is not some sabre-rattling by a new President keenly aware of his initial public image, it looks like it is. So it might as well be, considering the superiority of perception over reality in the public. And that’s a dangerous situation that can quickly spiral out of control.

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

Previous post:

Next post: