In another example of creeping Russian ‘borderization’ in the country of Georgia, the Russian government moved the de facto border of their country a couple hundred meters further into Georgian territory.
“This is a continuation of the illegal process of the so-called borderisation, which not only violates the fundamental rights of local residents but directly damages the security situation,” a statement from the national security service read, the Independent reports.
Russian soldiers have been guarding and maintaining an administrative border between the Georgian territory of South Ossetia, and the rest of Georgia. South Ossetia is a contested region that has tried to become a breakaway province of Georgia since the 90s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Wars have been fought in the region between Russian-backed separatists and the Georgian military in 2004 and 2008, during the Russo-Georgian War.
In the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War, Russia recognized the region’s status as an independent country, along with just three other nations: Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Nauru. Since then, a semi-autonomous South Ossetian government has functioned, almost entirely supported by the Russian government, and vigorously opposed by Georgia, who still considers the region part of its country.
Absent of outright armed hostilities, the slow process of simply moving the Russian-controlled border further into South Ossetia has been going on for years. One day the barbed wire line will be in one location, only for residents to awaken the next day to find it moved. Often, people from the “Georgian” side of the border will find themselves unknowingly on the “Russian” side, and will be arrested, sometimes spending days in jail.
A commission from the European Union has been monitoring what the Georgian government has referred to as a “land grab,” but like the response following previous military action against Georgia, international interest remains low, despite continuing instances of Russian aggression in other parts of Europe like the Crimean Peninsula and eastern Ukraine.
This latest incident comes only months after Russia announced a program to integrate South Ossetian militants into the regular Russian army. While serving in the breakaway region, militiamen can opt to become full-fledged members of the Russian army and remain in what is technically Georgian territory.
Featured image of Russian soldiers in South Ossetia during the 2008 Russo-Georgia War. By Yana Amelina (Амелина Я. А.) via Wikipedia