Putin’s Rethink on Georgia?

Interesting comments from the prime minister in the Wall Street Journal.  However this seems about as believable as Skidelsky’s observations that Putin’s interest in power is waning…  Voluntary retirement and minimal concessions toward Georgia just don’t seem possible in the current system.

It was the third time Mr. Putin has invited the group to Sochi, which seems improbably far south to be the site designated for the 2014 Winter Olympics, a project that Mr. Putin himself is leading. However, construction is evident all over the city, just a few miles away from the disputed Georgian territory of Abkhazia, over which Georgia suffered a defeat to Russian forces in a war in August 2008.

Since then, Russia has recognized Abkhazia’s independence and that of the other breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, but remains the only country to have done so.

Mr. Putin said the International Court of Justice, which decided in July Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia was legal, could rule on the independence of the two regions. He talked of “cooperation” between Georgia and the two regions but said: “I don’t know what form that cooperation would take.”

Robert Legvold of Columbia University said Mr. Putin’s comments on Georgia were surprising. “He implied that there was a path to restoring Georgian territorial integrity,” he said.