Is the Russian Federation quickly restoring its influence in both Eastern Europe and Eurasia?
As a matter of fact, Putin’s expansionism policies have been clear; he wants to regain the lost ground after the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
In an effort to do so, the Russian government has announced that it will sign an “alliance and integration” treaty with South Ossetia on March 18.
The word “integration” is a possible sign of President Putin’s plan to annex South Ossetia in the near future. Unlike Crimea, the South Ossetian government is a strong supporter of the Russian Federation, meaning it could be a “soft” annexation. What I mean by a “soft” annexation is that the South Ossatian government will doubtlessly approve the referendum and recognise the outcome due to its close ties with the Russian Federation without massive manifestations or protests.
Having said that, the international community will not recognize the outcome, pretty much like Crimea. Nevertheless, since Russia has soldiers on the ground in South Ossetia, the Russian government will not wage a proxy war like in Crimea and in both the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast. This will “legalize” their intervention under the pretext of protecting their stationed troops in South Ossetia. Anyway, I doubt that a conflict will erupt inside South Ossetia—the fighting, if there is some, will most likely happen on the borders.
The 25 years treaty will include promotion “of social, economic, humanitarian, foreign affairs, defense and security cooperation between Russia and South Ossetia and preservation of the latter’s state sovereignty”.
Moscow also confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov will discuss bilateral ties and “coordination in…the provision of stability and security in the Transcauscasus region.”
Leonid Tibilov was the head of South Ossetian KGB from 1992 to 1998. Tibilov became the 3rd President of South Ossetia in 2012 after defeating David Sanakoyez.
In 2008, Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent country after fighting the five-day war against Georgia. Since then, the Russian Armed Forces have been maintaining thousands of troops in the region. Georgia will not let it go without a fight, however. This fight will probably be fought through diplomatic channels while small clashes might occur between Russian and Georgian troops.
New economic sanctions will most likely be adopted against Putin and his entourage.
Conflict Observer will update you in the details of this treaty once it has been signed and released to the public. The treaty is currently available in Russian here.