Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Russian vs. Georgian justifications in 2008 South Ossetia war

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Were Russia or Georgia's actions in the 2008 South Ossetia war legitimate?

Background and context

On August 7th, 2008 an open conflict broke out between Georgia, South Ossetia (an unrecognized break-away region of Georgia), and Russia. The public debate has focused mainly on the legitimacy of Russia and Georgia's actions in this conflict. Did Georgia act legitimately? Did Russia? Did both? Or did neither?
The importance of this debate relates largely to how other states in the international community react to the conflict. America's formal diplomatic position is, for instance, that Russia "invaded" Georgia, and that Russia is primarily culpable in the conflict. This had led some Americans to conclude that Russia must be punished in some form, with proposals ranging from sanctions to removing Russia from the G-8.

This conflict has existed in a milder form for over a decade. Georgia regained its independence in 1991 upon the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soon after, in the early 1990s, South Ossetia (which had been autonomous under the Soviet Union), declared independence as the Republic of South Ossetia. South Ossetia, however, is not recognized in the international community as a state. Georgia and the international community still considers it part of its territory. In 2008, upon alleged provocation by South Ossetian separatists, Georgia launched military operations into South Ossetia in an attempt to reassert sovereign control over the break-away region. At this stage, Russia became involved in the conflict, justifying its engagement on the grounds that Georgia's military operations in South Ossetia lead to a humanitarian disaster that killed dozens (and possibly hundreds) of Russian citizens in addition to allegedly injuring around 150 Russian peacekeepers and killing 10. With these and other justifications abounding, who was right? Who was more legitimate in their actions, Russia or Georgia?

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Proportionality: Was Russia's response proportional to Georgia's initial action?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Russia's humanitarian intervention was justified to protect Russians Russia's intervened in South Ossetia to protect Russians from Georgia's hard-handed military intervention in South Ossetia, which resulted in a significant humanitarian crisis. Some claim that upwards of 2,000 civilians had died in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali as a result of Georgian military operations there, most of them Russian citizens. Russia's constitution requires that it protect its citizens no matter where they are in the world. Russia aggressive response to the death of so many of its citizens was, therefore, justified.
  • Russia sent troops to Georgia to defend its peacekeepers One of Russia's primary objectives in South Ossetia was to protect Russian peacekeepers that were under attack by Georgian forces. During this attack reportedly 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed and roughly 150 injured. This provided a sound pretext for a strong military response from Russia.
  • Russian blockade of arms reaching Georgia was justified Interfax news agency cited a source in the Russian naval command saying, "This is definitely necessary for preventing arms shipments to Georgia by sea. A sea blockade of Georgia will also help avert an escalation of military activity in Abkhazia."[1]


[Add New]

No

  • Shellings by South Ossetian separatists provoked Georgia's attack. Georgia's military actions in South Ossetia were not unprovoked. They were a proportional response to shellings against Georgia proper by South Ossetian separatists.
  • Russia invaded Georgia to reassert its empire Robert Baer. "The Russian Empire Strikes Back". Time. - "Russia's invasion of Georgia has less to do with South Ossetia than with a Russia that never reconciled itself to losing an empire — or to being treated like a second-rate power all these years. Russia's resentment has only grown as oil prices have risen, turning Russia, with the 5 million bbl. of oil it exports a day, into a first-world economic power. It was only a matter of time, then, before Russia taught the world a lesson."
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Humanitarian: Can Russia's actions be considered "peacekeeping" or "humanitarian"?

[Add New]

Yes

Vladmir Putin - "In line with effective international agreements, including the 1992 agreement, Russia not only performs peacekeeping functions but in case of violation of the ceasefire agreement by one side is obliged to protect the other, which we did in this case with regard to South Ossetia."[3]
[Add New]

No

  • Russia's actions in Georgia cannot be described as "humanitarian". Russia moved more than 9,000 troops into South Ossetia, while peacekeeping agreements allow only 2,500. Its violation of these agreements signifies that Russia was not attempting to engage in a peacekeeping or humanitarian operation, but was, rather, engaging in a broader military action against Georgia.[4]



[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Genocide: Did Georgia or Russia commit genocide in South Ossetia?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Georgia committed genocide in South Ossetia Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said that what was happening in Georgia's breakaway region could only be seen as "ethnic cleansing and genocide".[5] Georgia has also been accused of shelling Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia.
  • Georgia has committed genocide in South Ossetia before. This is not the first time that Georgia has been accused of committing genocide in Georgia. It has allegedly committed genocide in South Ossetia in the early 1990s.


[Add New]

No

  • Russia exaggerated the humanitarian crisis in South Ossetia Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denounced as "a lie" Russian claims of more than 1,000 civilian deaths in South Ossetia's main city. He said "practically no civilians" were killed. He continued that the claims were an "egregious lie. There were practically no civilians dead. But Tskhinvali is ruined as a result of Russian bombardments."[6]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

S. Ossetia independence: Does S. Ossetia deserve independence from Georgia?

[Add New]

Yes

  • South Ossetia is de facto independent; Georgia "invaded". South Ossetia has been de facto independent since the 1990s. It has excercised authority over its own affairs since then. Georgia, therefore, was wrong to attempt to re-claim South Ossetia by force.
  • Bombing homes and civilians is not "Georgia reasserting sovereignty". Many supporters of Georgia claim that Georgia was justified to reassert its sovereignty over South Ossetia. But, such a re-assertion of territorial integrity could not legitimately include bombing civilian targets and inflicting such a heavy humanitarian toll on Georgia.
  • South Ossetia should be independent; Georgia should allow. Southern Ossetia should be independent. Its case for independence is very strong, with over a decade of de facto, democratic self-governance, and a majority desiring and voting for independence from Georgia in 2006. Because its case is so strong for independence, Georgia's decision to attempt to re-claim it by force was particularly illegitimate.


[Add New]

No

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Petras Vaitiekunas. - "Having arrived in Georgia and observing the situation on the spot, I agree with the assessments of the situation by the international community, that Russian military forces have crossed all red lines by crossing an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia."[8]
A senior US official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said the outlook was "grim" and that Russia had planned its moves in Georgia for some time. - "This appears to be a full invasion of Georgia with an end result uncertain and an objective that is not clear but appears to be aggressive in nature. Words like invasion should not be used lightly but this is an invasion."[9]
  • South Ossetia has been part of Georgia for centuries.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Kosovo precedent: Does S. Ossetia deserve independence because Kosovo got it?

[Add New]

Yes


[Add New]

No

  • Kosovo independence was illegitimate so is a bad precedent. Kosovo should not have been given independence. Its independence is, therefore, illegitimate, and should not be held up as a precedent by which South Ossetian independence can be justified.
  • Russian double standard in opposing Kosovo while helping S. Ossetia. Russia long opposed Kosovo's moves to independence. It is, therefore, a double standard that it now support Ossetian independence.
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Diplomacy: Have Russia and Georgia excercised sufficiently diplomacy?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Georgia was wrong to act militarily (vs. diplomatically) in South Ossetia. Georgia did not pursue legitimate, legal diplomatic means in addressing its grievances in South Ossetia. Instead, it resorted to military action. This is wrong and even illegal.
  • Georgia has been building military forces to attack South Ossetia. Georgia has been engaging in a concerted campaign for many years to bolster its military forces in order to launch military operations in South Ossetia. Such planning indicates that Georgia never had in mind the pursuit of legitimate diplomatic means to resolving this crisis, and always imagined the use of force as the principal means of achieving its aims. This is unacceptable.


[Add New]

No

  • Russia pursued insufficient diplomatic ends before invading Georgia. Russia should have pursued diplomatic channels through the international community before invading Georgian territory.
  • Russia has needlessly escalated the conflict with Georgia. US President George Bush said that Russia has made a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of the conflict over South Ossetia.[11]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Ceasefire: Has Russian or Georgia been wrong in regards to ceasefires?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Russia justly sought to end humanitarian crisis before ceasefire. Russian President Medvedev agreed to a ceasefire on August 12th, 2008, but only after securing South Ossetia, and ensuring an end to the humanitarian crisis for civilians and peacekeepers there. Russia was justified in obtaining such security before accepting a ceasefire.


[Add New]

No

  • Russia wrongly rejected an initial Georgian ceasefire.



[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

International law: Which country has acted more consistently with international law?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Russia legally justified in actions in S. Ossetia Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, "From the legal point of view our actions are absolutely justified and legitimate." On a separate occasion, Vladimir Putin said, "Russia's actions in South Ossetia are totally legitimate."[12]
[Add New]

No

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

NATO expansion: Were Russia's aims to prevent Georgian membership in NATO?

[Add New]

Yes

[Add New]

No

  • Russia attacked Georgia to halt its NATO membership "South Ossetia." Global Security.org "Russia has opposed NATO membership for Georgia. Georgia's application for NATO membership was deferred in April 2008 due to the unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. By exacerbating these conflicts, Russia renders Georgia an un-appetising candidate for NATO membership. A decisive defeat for Georgia could also be seen as a defeat for the United States, and result in diminished American influence in the region."


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

US role: Is the US position unjustified?

[Add New]

Yes

  • The US is culpable in causing the present crisis in Georgia. The US has supported Georgia for years by arming it and providing it with a false sense of backing. This has stoked Georgia's confidence and contributed to Georgia taking military action in South Ossetia. Russian Foreign Minister warned the US that it was contributing to the problem in this way.
  • Media coverage is biased against Russia. These biases have even included action
  • Georgia has blocked Russia media coverage in South Ossetia.
  • The US has no oil interests in South Ossetia.


[Add New]

No

  • The US was justified in backing democratic Georgia. Georgia is a democracy, and the US has been justified in providing political and military aid to such a country.


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Pro/con resources

[Add New]

Yes


[Add New]

No


See also

External links

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.