END OF RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES IN GEORGIA: SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF WITHDRAWAL
Kornely K. KAKACHIA
Kornely Kakachia, Dean, School of Politics and International Relations, Tbilisi State University (Tbilisi, Georgia)
The breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War considerably changed the geopolitical situation in Eurasia and started a completely new process of a fundamental transformation of the world political system. The collapse of the Soviet order has created a unique opportunity for the countries of the Southern Caucasus to play a new and significant role as independent forces between the dominant Eurasian power in the north, Russia, and the rival powers in the south, Turkey and Iran. Nevertheless the Caucasus is still an area of conflict despite numerous peacekeeping activities in the region. The continuing competition between the West and Russia over mediation of the conflict creates new geopolitical obstacles for long-term stability and development of the region.
Russian military presence in the Caucasus continues to remain a significant challenge for the newly independent states. Its policy toward the Southern Caucasus has undergone significant changes and hardly be characterized as consistent. Military, political and economic presence has allowed Moscow to exert influence in the regions internal development, especially the course of the conflicts, cease-fires and negotiations. The triad by means of which Russia was safeguarding the interest of its security in the region—military bases, defense of the CIS external borders, peacekeeping—had by the end of decade started to crack. While the concentration of the Russian forces in the Southern Caucasus was cut down, as of today Russia still remains the sole external state with the power readily to shape developments in the region.
During the Soviet period the Southern Caucasus as part of Soviet Union was fully integrated into its security system, with its share of army, navy and air force bases, border guard contingents and early warning systems. The Soviet Union had maintained a substantial military presence in Georgia as its geopolitical position always made Georgia strategically important and……….