The Bear Trap: Russia and the West after the Crisis in Georgia

Global Dialogue, Vol. 11, pp. 1-18, August 2009

8 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011

Date Written: August 4, 2009


On the night of 7–8 August 2008, the Georgian army launched a full-scale assault to “restore constitutional order” to Georgia’s rebellious northern province of South Ossetia. Nearly a year has passed since these tragic events, yet there is still widespread disagreement over what happened, why it happened, and what lessons ought to be derived from the conflict. For President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, the Russian intervention was the pre-planned “cold-blooded murder of a small, free independent country by a ruthless big neighbor.” For President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Georgia’s initial assault was a pre-planned act of genocide by Tbilisi against the people of South Ossetia. This conflict has cast a long shadow over Russia’s relations with the West, and before those relations can be reset, August’s war must be given some historical context, and popular explanations of why it erupted at that specific time must be examined.

Keywords: South Ossetia, Georgia, Russian foreign policy, Abkhazia, Russo-Georgian War of 2008

Suggested Citation

Petro, Nicolai N., The Bear Trap: Russia and the West after the Crisis in Georgia (August 4, 2009). Global Dialogue, Vol. 11, pp. 1-18, August 2009, Available at SSRN:

Nicolai N. Petro (Contact Author)

University of Rhode Island ( email )

Political Science Department
Washburn Hall
Kingston, RI 02881
United States


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