Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has, in an interview on 7th of August, threatened that war is a great possibility if Georgia proceeds with its full membership submission with NATO.
This article was submitted by Nicolas George Taylor, a recent graduate in International Relations & Politics from Oxford Brookes University.
Russia has traditionally considered NATO expansion as a form of aggression, contributing to the historical assumption that Russian encirclement is subject to the narrative of the country’s current aggressive foreign policy.
In a televised interview with the state-owned program Kommersant daily, Medvedev who was President during the 2008 conflict dubbed the Russo-Georgian war, suggested that NATO should take immense precaution with its expansionary actions and warned that there still remains a “territorial conflict” which, if membership is granted by NATO, could be the trigger that “provokes a terrible conflict”.
This comes during the 10 year anniversary of the first conflict which claimed the lives of 224 civilians and displaced nearly 192,000 people.
The first conflict in 2008 was pronounced under the context of what scholars such as Roy Allison argue was a means of protecting Russian citizens in South Ossetia, yet under the guise of maintaining Russian hegemony in the ex-soviet state.
The threat comes just four years since the annexation of the Crimean peninsula which has been condemned by the international community and marked what scholars and commentators alike see as a new era of Russian aggressive foreign policy.
Foreign ministers from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Estonia have burst out in defence of the sovereign states intention to become a full member of the alliance. Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs went as far as defending Georgia and stated that:
“What happened in Georgia in 2008, and then in Ukraine, convinces us that we must do everything so that it does not happen again.”
In response to Medvedevs threat, Georgian President Girogi Margvelashvili remained firmly committed to progressing with NATO membership stating that “Georgia will not stop on its path to the EU and NATO.”
Georgia, which in 2006 undertook the Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAP) deepening its relationship with the alliance, continues to seek full NATO membership, but considering the recent actions in 2014 and today with Russian military intervention in Syria, there is speculation that Georgia’s membership process could be slowed as a means of preventing unnecessary provocation.