Policy Memos

Vae Victors: The Russian Army Pays for the Lessons of the Georgian War

Policy Memo:


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The dust of the five-day August war between Russia and Georgia was partly settled by the end of the year – and was partly blown away by the hurricane winds of the global economic crisis. The picture that has emerged out of the incomplete collection of hard facts (themselves distorted by massive propaganda campaigns) bears little resemblance to the initial impression of a colossal Russian military machine pulverizing a hapless Georgia. While Putin’s loud accusations of “genocide” have proven false, it has become difficult to sustain the proposition that the operation was carefully planned by the Russian General Staff, which managed to catch Georgia’s impulsive President Mikheil Saakashvili in a trap through a series of provocations. There are still many pieces absent from this puzzle of the “peace-enforcement”/“integrity-restoring” battle, but those party to the conflict have already drawn their conclusions and begun to implement lessons. It is therefore possible to make some preliminary assessments regarding the next round of escalating tensions in the summer of 2009, after the usual winter break. [...]

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About the author

Research Professor
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)