President Dmitry Medvedev’s interview on August 5 about the causes and consequences of the August 2008 war with Georgia contained little news and more than a few lies, but it still sheds some interesting light on the current political disarray in Russia.
Neither Medvedev’s bragging over the victory in the entirely unnecessary war, nor Putin’s imagining of how the growth of tourism would change the parochial mentalities, could hide the absence of direction in Russian policy in the Caucasus. Moscow’s strategy in the Caucasus has arrived at a dead-end shaped by too many self-made traps, from the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states to the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The best hope for the increasingly dysfunctional Putin-Medvedev duumvirate is to stay put in this blind-alley checking the escalation of challenges and buying time by disbursing money. Perhaps already by next August, a new Russian president might have to spell out a much more sober assessment of the inglorious war.