Matthew Yglesias writes, regarding Kosovo’s UDI:
It seems likely that the main price will be paid by people in Georgia (former Soviet Georgia, that is) where Russia will retaliate by recognizing the independent of Abkhazia and possibly touching off some intensified conflict there.
This view is consistent with the tone and substance of Kremlin rhetoric on the matter for the last few years; unless you follow Georgia more closely than anyone who doesn’t have to is likely to, it would seem clear. And it’s certainly what the Abkhazian and South Ossetian leaders, recently in Moscow asking for official recognition, would like.
But all indications are that Russia is backing down from this threat, as self interest, right action, and sound judgment all mysteriously align (even as their Ambassador to NATO blusters about taking on NATO in Kosovo). Georgia-Russia relations are thawing on several fronts, including Russia’s WTO accession and lifting the Russian trade and travel embargoes. Russia is still applying the thumbscrews on Georgia’s NATO bid, but as that appears to have experienced a small flight delay after last year’s great unpleasantness in Tbilisi, it doesn’t preclude progress elsewhere.
The separatists will not get the recognition they seek, not out of Russian concern for its relations with Georgia or because it’s been swayed by the sui generis drumbeat from the west, but because the status quo suits it: It can keep meddling in Georgia through its effective control of the regions, and the last thing it needs is a shooting war (or two) adjacent to its own volatile North Caucasus republics.
Incidentally, the comments on Yglesias’ post illustrate the tradeoffs in allowing for comments or, as in the RBC, not. There is a fair number of well-informed, civil exchanges on Balkan history and politics. And some not-so-civil but perfectly apposite colloquies:
“The problem is after granting independence to Kosova (which is possibly an economically unsustainable unit as a state in any case) what do you say tomorrow to Rspblika Srpska in Bosnia?”
Go fuck yourselves.
Recent history matters in terms of international sympathy.
And, of course, the tinfoil-hat brigades:
G.W.Bush & Elizabeth 11 are relatives of Leka 1 king of the albanians and they are attempting to backdoor him into a power sharing agreement, and with the realization of the greater albania…