Weaning Abkhazia off Russia

abkhazia080309.jpgThe small smuggling mob that is the population of South Ossetia is one thing, while the nationalists of Abkhazia are entirely different … and they don’t very much like the idea of getting annexed by Russia.  The other day Reuters had an interesting feature piece on the tensions of dependency between Abkhazia and Russia, and today in the Guardian, Jonathan Steele has an interesting quote from Tom de Waal:

Can nothing be done to improve matters? Tom de Waal, a respected analyst of the Caucasus, argues that the west should open links to Abkhazia without recognising its independence by taking “status-neutral” measures like supporting a direct shipping route between Abkhazia and Turkey, and getting Georgia to support it. This would not help Georgia recover Abkhazia, but it would lessen Abkhaz ties to Russia.

Steps of this kind would be useful, but they leave the big picture unchanged. Tens of thousands have lost their homes and hundreds their lives in a war for which Saakashvili – in spite of some slaps on the wrist from Obama and Biden – still has not had to pay a serious price.