….Recognition of Kosovo by the West would break the rules of the game that Russia has been playing with Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the past 15 years. Russians have wanted Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain inside Georgia, but not be integrated with it, so that they can have leverage on Georgian politics, prevent it from joining NATO and other western institutions, etc. Any viable political regime in contemporary Georgia is bound to be fairly pro-western, which in itself apriori makes Georgia Russian adversary. At the same time Russians have also been promising a lot to the Ossetians and the Abkhaz, namely to unify South Ossetia with North Ossetia and recognize Abkhazia.
Any decisive outcome from Georgian conflicts might potentially have negative implications for Russians. If South Ossetia and Abkhazia get reintegrated into Georgia, Russia will not be able to hinder Georgian progress into NATO. Also this will send a message to the Russian North Caucasus that Russia is getting weaker and soon might leave North Caucasus as well, which will trigger revival of rebels in the region and might indeed facilitate Russian leave of the region in the end. If South Ossetia and Abkhazia get recognized by Russia and borders are changed, there might be a war which is in itself a great risk for Russia, as Russian public will hardly tolerate Russians being killed outside of Russia so the only way of doing wars there would be to hire North Caucasians, but when the war is over no one knows where these North Caucasian forces will turn. As North Caucasus has been harbouring separatist sentiment for a while now, it would be very hazardous move for Russians to take. Besides this Russia is wary of changing post-soviet borders because Russian Federation is the most multinational and therefore one of the most prone parties to a break up along ethnic lines among the former Soviet Union countries….
….Whatever Russia undertakes, Georgia may act preemptively to offer yet another peace initiative regarding in particular post-conflict settlement in South Ossetia in order to avoid bloodshed and to advance mutual trust.
In recognition of the Ossetian people’s wish to become united, Georgia should propose that South Ossetia has the right to join North Ossetia, provided Russia recognizes the same right for North Ossetia to secede from Russian Federation to form together with South Ossetia an independent, neutral Ossetian state.
If Russia is somewhat opposed to allowing North Ossetia to secede, South Ossetia should be given wide autonomy within Georgia under condition that when and if North Ossetia gains independence, Georgia will allow South Ossetia to join it. Russians may say that North Ossetia does not want to secede from Russian Federation and the most obvious response to this would be holding a referendum under international auspices.
The difference for Georgia between South Ossetia joining Russia or even being recognized by Russia on the one hand and having independent, neutral Ossetia on its borders on the other hand is obvious. If South Ossetia becomes an official continuation of Russia, as it is unofficially now, it will invariably continue to play destabilizing role and undermine Georgia’s efforts to progress towards joining Western institutions. While if its independence is brought about with Georgian consent and underlying set of agreements, the latter can have strong influence on what kind of a state it is going to have in its neighborhood….
Full story: http://www.tol.cz/look/TOL/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=252&NrSection=2&NrArticle=19291&tpid=10 or http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/analyticstext/enganalytics/id/1207071.html