The Georgian-Russian war in August 2008 and Russia's ensuing recognition of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence have generated a new context in relations between the EU, the US and Russia. The crisis created new sources of instability in the entire post-Soviet space, highlighting a new form of Russian revisionism and revealing the limitations of Western policies in what the Kremlin views as its sphere of influence. Caucasian-Central Asian states now wonder whether it is worth complicating their relations with Moscow for the sake of limited or uncertain support from the West. Even if the long-term repercussions of the Russian-Georgian crisis remains unpredictable, one thing is clear: the EU and the US should engage with the region more intensively. In the long run, only economic development in the region, genuine democratisation and real prospects of becoming anchored in Euro-Atlantic structures, alongside effective confidence-building measures between the parties, will be able to induce the secessionist regions to rethink their future.
Previous version: "After the 2008 Russia-Georgia War: Implications for the Wider Caucasus and Prospects for Western Involvement in Conflict Resolution", in Documenti IAI 09|01 (January 2009). Background paper of the EU-CONSENT conference on "The Caucasus and Black Sea Region: European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Beyond", Rome, 6-7 February 2009.