Over at another blog, I was asked what I thought about Obama’s visit to Moscow, how it was playing in Tbilisi and what it meant for Georgia. Here are my two tetris’ worth:
Saakashvili is pleased that the only explicit area of disagreement mentioned between the US and Russia was Georgia; Obama made time in his statement to reiterate that the US supports the territorial integrity of Georgia. Obama also said that his discussions of Georgia with Medvedev had been “frank,” the next best thing in diplo-speak to “full and frank,” which generally indicates thrown crockery.
On the other hand, Obama also clearly indicated where Georgia is on the US list of priorities in his administration: after nuclear disarmament, Afghanistan, non-proliferation in re Iran and North Korea. Much as I like Georgia, that’s a sensible set of priorities for the US. I hope that Georgian authorities will have read Obama’s signals the same way.
Interestingly, there are some signs of Abkhaz discontent. Russia has apparently been high-handed in setting up the details of guarding some of the self-declared external Abkhaz border, and is also presenting a different version of where the notional Russian-Abkhaz border lies. (Not surprising, all things considered.) Anyway, not everybody who’s anybody in Abkhazia likes that approach. And as I read through the history of the region, I find that Abkhazia in particular has made its way by cozying up to one side of regional power struggles and then shifting a bit when the embrace becomes too close, eventually changing partners. I don’t think that a new dance is about to begin, but complete subservience to Russia is not necessarily what all of the Abkhaz had in mind.