Analysis of the Georgian- Russian Conflict in 2008
There is never a single cause for war; it is a consequence of the amalgamation of people, leaders, organizations, agencies, political bodies, coalitions, and diplomatic relations that drive the international system into conflict. Nevertheless, how does a conflict as isolated as the 2008 Georgian war with Russia reverberate through the grand globe. To inspect the global level of analysis in terms of international relations, the individual, interstate and domestic levels must be accounted for to break down the onset and aftermath of war in the territories and overall impact on world trends. The 2008 conflict between the Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation that began on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics is an interesting case where heads of state, political organizations and dwindling diplomatic negotiations can suddenly erupt into a bloody conflict that will shake the international system.
The individual players highlighted in the conflict in the summer of 2008, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, both are responsible for the war in Caucuses. War is the outcome of men in power. Their actions, whims and wants carry armies across battlefield for resources and lands that seem vital to their economy, their ideals or their pride. The war of 2008 was a direct result of all three. Each political head of state sought to counteract the intrusions on their countries economic holdings especially in the region of Abkahzia. Strong idealists in terms of their country's image in the international system, neither figure wanted to dent their reputation and let a foreign foe intrude on their claim of land. It quickly became a matter of pride as the two hotheaded leaders began micromanaging and escalating the debacle. Saakashvili, the alum of Columbia University and the young president of Georgia, is a proponent for westernizing his country and the people. Rising to power out of the 2003 Rose Revolution, Saakashvili immediately sided with the west and the United States. Sending the third largest military force to fight alongside American and British troops in Iraq, Georgia, with Saakashvili as architect, was being molded into European like republic in arms reach of the businesses under the EU. In 2006, Saakashvili began to undercut his neighbor to the north in order to find more allies in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To much apprehension by the parliament, the executive body of Georgia began pushing away Russia and infringing on Russian hegemony in its sphere of influence amongst former Soviet states in the immediate vicinity. According to Putin, "the policy exerted by the Georgian leadership towards Russia... hinder[ed] improvement of bilateral ties," beginning a diplomatic tug of war that resulted in many tactical errors in foreign policy on the part of the Georgian head of state. Taking a stance against Russian pressure, Saakashvili began an international pissing contest with Putin in Russia. Vladimir Putin, a KGB operative until the fall of the Soviet Union, in the past decade has risen to be de facto head of the Russian Federation. Serving as President for eight years and currently serving the state as Prime Minister, Putin is the prideful and ambitious leader of the largest former Soviet republic. Taking a hard stance against Georgian opposition to Russian influence in the Caucuses region, Putin ran military exercises in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia to demonstrate Russian power. Beginning in 2006, this prideful push and pull to stay true to national economic and ideological interests soon escalated events into war.
The military exercises under Putin's authority were in support of the separatist parties in the breakaway regions in Georgia. Influencing both the Georgian administration and Russian foreign policy these groups in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are individuals organized together by ethnic ties and general interests of sovereignty. Fighting against Georgian forces since the early 90s, these ethnic groups complicate Georgian relations with their neighbor Russia. Russia, who maintains "peacekeeping" forces in the volatile regions in Georgia, threatens Georgia authority in the land. Occupying the territory and passing out citizenships to the population in the area, the Russian government towards the end of the 90s began to foster anti-Georgian sentiment amongst the countries own people. The violent ethnic groups, now legalized Russian citizens, coming into the 2000s, sought increased support from the Russian government. Separatists backed by Russian military forces through 2006 into the conflict in 2008 attacked Georgian authority in the regions. As the conflicts between the ethnic groups and the Georgian government escalated, the line between separatist forces and Russian military disappeared and the groups seeking sovereignty were pushed aside by northern forces from Russia. The organized individuals seeking ethnic freedom and political autonomy that started the conflicts with Georgia and introduced Russia into the equation were soon overshadowed in August of 2008 when an overwhelming Russian military presence broke the Georgian border and invaded the country.
 "Timeline of Georgian-Russian Relations."IISS.org. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2010. Web. <http://www.iiss.org/programmes/russia-and-eurasia/about/georgian-russian-dialogue/timeline-of-georgian-russian-relations/>. Pg. 13.
 Nichol, Jim. "Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests."CRS Report for Congress (2008). Print. Pg. 2.