The views expressed in the article are the author’s own, and do not reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Army War College, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Download the report here.
The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia shocked most of the world but was quickly overshadowed by other events. The 2008 financial crisis, which began around the same time, seized the attention of governments as they tried to prevent a global economic meltdown. Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. presidency in November of that year ushered in a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations, and the U.S. began looking for pragmatic ways to cooperate with Russia. Even Georgia seemed to move on from the war quickly: its political and economic reform processes continued and even accelerated in the years after the war. But the ten years since the war have brought more ominous consequences into view. The continued presence of thousands of Russian troops inside Georgia’s borders have degraded its always-tenuous security situation and taken a psychological toll on its people. And Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine have made clear that – far from being an isolated event – Russia’s 2008 intervention in Georgia marked the beginning of a sustained and serious Russian challenge to the U.S.-led global order.