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Lesson Not Learned: US Demands Russia Withdraw Peacekeepers from Abkhazia & South Ossetia

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The US has called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, independent republics protected by Russia which are still internationally recognized as a part of Georgia, and bring them back to positions before the 2008 conflict, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert has said.

“The United States calls on Russia to withdraw its forces to the positions they were in before the invasion,” the spokeswoman said during a briefing. The US spokeswoman was referring to the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia in 2008, when Georgia, emboldened by promises from NATO and then US President George W. Bush, invaded South Ossetia and attacked Russian peacekeepers.

Analysts continue to speculate that Russia’s subsequent military intervention was expected, and that Georgia therefore probably hoped to pull NATO into the conflict. The latter did not eventuate, and NATO’s recognition of the futility of fully supporting Georgian aggression has been called the first signifier that the age of multipolarity was incumbent, with the US no longer wielding unipolar primacy and Russia no longer silent over US-NATO-provoked hostilities. 

Previously, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently holds the post of prime minister, has pointed out that Russian tanks stopped just a few dozen kilometers from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, as Russia intended only to defend Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, not infringe on Georgia.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry has stressed that Russia’s military operation in South Ossetia was aimed at stopping Georgia’s aggression against the population of South Ossetia.

In addition, the Russian Ministry has stated that the greatest lesson of the 2008 conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia is that there is no point in resorting to methods of force to resolve international disputes. 

Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence in the 1990s. In 2008, Russia recognized the new status of the territories. Russian military units are stationed in both territories to prevent further Georgian aggression.

In addition to Russia, the independence of these territories has been recognized by Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Vanuatu and Tuvalu (which later withdrew its recognition). In turn, Tbilisi considers these regions temporarily occupied.

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