Letter to the Editor: 'Russia Determined to Wield Power in Georgia'

Dear Newsweek,

Re: Georgia Wants U.S. Help to Get Back South Ossetia, Where Russia Ally Says 'Never Again'

I read with interest your piece about Georgia seeking Western support in South Ossetia on the 12th Anniversary of the Russo-Georgian War.

It is no secret that Russia remains determined in its efforts to wield power in Georgia. Traditionally this has taken the shape of military might – as referenced in the piece. But for those of us who have been observing the developments closely, it has been interesting to witness Russia's pivot towards exerting 'softer' methods of control alongside military efforts.

Over recent months, several reports have emerged about the Georgian government stalling or reversing business deals that would have brought the country closer to the Euro-Atlantic family of Nations. Notably, the government recently revoked a contract from an American company to develop the Anakila Port Project; and has been accused of trying to derail the development of a Europe-Asia digital corridor, by reversing a business deal with Caucasus Online and subsequently making controversial amendments to the country's communications law.

There are public concerns that these decisions, and others like them, have been influenced by Russian pressure to regain control of Georgia's geopolitical path.

Western governments should remain alert to any move that has the potential to undermine Georgia's efforts towards Euro-Atlantic integration. Georgia is a country of vital geostrategic importance to Europe and the US – we must make every effort to ensure it is not brought further into the Russian sphere of influence.

Amb. Cameron Munter (former US Ambassador to Pakistan and to Serbia, and former President and CEO of the EastWest Institute (EWI).