Ukraine Blames International Response to Georgia Crisis for Russian Intervention

Georgia border South Ossetia
Protesters stand next to Georgian policemen near a border sign erected by Russian and Ossetian troops along Georgia's de-facto border with its breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgia, July 14, 2015. David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

Russia's 2014 interventions in Ukraine occurred because the international community did not punish it sufficiently for its military intervention in Georgia in 2008, Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

In 2008, a war of words erupted into armed confrontation between Georgia, Russian-backed separatists in Georgia's north and northwest, and the Russian armed forces. The five days of fighting killed over 800 people and the anniversary of the conflict gives rise to debate in the media every August.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the eighth anniversary of the altercation, arguing that events in Georgia were a precursor to what Russia came to do in Ukraine in 2014, annexing Crimea and backing separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, known collectively as Donbas.

"After not getting a tough enough and an unequivocal response by the international community for its aggression against Georgia, Russia chose its next target—Ukraine," the statement read.

"The occupation of Georgia's regions, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the continuing Russian aggression in Donbas suggest that Russia continues to grossly violate the U.N. charter, international law and its international obligations and constitutes a threat to peace and security in the whole Euro-Atlantic area," the ministry added.

"Ukraine reaffirms respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and calls on the international community to consolidate efforts and increase the pressure on Russia to complete cessation of aggression against neighboring states," it continued.

While condemned by the West, Russia has not recalled troops from Georgia's separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, incorporating them closer in its security framework and with officials in South Ossetia planning a referendum to join Russia entirely. Relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have recovered somewhat since 2008, though remain strained as Georgia continues to plan for joining the U.S.-led NATO alliance.