A couple of weeks ago, after Russia invaded Georgia, I said that the UN would be unable to act on Georgia because of Russia’s veto and that Federal Europe would denounce their invasion but Russia would respond along the lines of Federal Europe supported Kosovo’s universal declaration of independence so they’re doing the same in South Ossetia.
I think I’ll have a punt on the lottery this week because since then the UN drafted a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw from Georgia, Russia vetoed it and now they have formally recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazian independence.
So what next? South Ossetia has a population of around 70,000 and about half have Russian passports. Russia has been handing out passports to the ethnic Ossetian population of South Ossetia like they’re going out of fashion to bolster South Ossetia’s claim to independence and to give themselves the all important justification for invading. This is nothing new, there’s even a word for it: Rusification – the process of replacing one nationality and/or culture with a Russian one.
The South Ossetian seperatists want unification with North Ossetia – will Russia be giving North Ossetia to South Ossetia or does their respect for the wishes of Ossetians only extend to those that live in Georgia? If Chechnya is anything to go by then it’s unlikely we’ll see a unified Ossetia any time soon. Or perhaps Russia’s imperial ambitions go a little futher than rebuilding the network of client states it built up in the soviet era and South Ossetia is to be incorporated into Russia proper. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Russia has already had talks with the South Ossetian government to decide what’s going to happen already – this certainly wasn’t a spontaneous campaign, it must have been planned some time ago.
So what’s the difference between Kosovo and South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Both have their own national governments, both have held referenda on independence and both have declared unilateral independence. But the Kosovans stopped shooting Serbians (mostly) years ago and Kosovo has been run as an independent state by the UN for almost a decade. Georgia has attempted to assert control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia almost constantly since 1991.
If South Ossetians and Abkhazians want independence then fine, let them have it. But South Ossetia wants unification with North Ossetia and that’s not going to happen unless South Ossetia is annexed by Russia. That’s not independence.