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02-05-2009, 02:57 PM
Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Aftermath of the Russian Invasion of Georgia

Niklas Swanstrom*

The Russian invasion of Georgia did not provoke too much concern from either China or the Central Asian governments. On the contrary, smug smiles were initially seen in many capitals of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members. Georgia is, to the displeasure of many, a very defiant and rapidly growing democracy that had the nerve to leave the embracing bosom of Russia. Many of the SCO member states have been concerned with domestic upheaval and the spread of “destabilizing” democratization movements and color revolutions. Nevertheless, this shared threat perception did not translate into support for Russia’s invasion as the consequences and the reactions have been far greater and stronger than any of the SCO members possibly could have imagined, including Russia. The invasion has resulted in three key developments: first, it speeded up the process of Georgia’s NATO membership; second, it opened up discussion of Georgia becoming an EU member state; and third, it highlighted the question of recognition of separatist regions. Although EU membership remains distant, these three developments should be considered a major setback for Russia’s interests.

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