Likewise, the women seemed to understand what Russian imperialism has always been about — and not just during the Soviet era. “Why do you think the Russians are doing this in your village?” I said.
“They want our territories,” Nana said. “Some of them are Ossetians, too, not only Russians, and not only soldiers. Some are there just to steal things, from Ossetia and Chechnya.”
Russia didn’t want to annex Gori permanently, in all likelihood, but it did want, as it always has, a buffer zone between itself and its enemies. It was George F. Kennan, America’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, who said, “Russia can have at its borders only enemies or vassals.” Now Georgia has been all but dismembered.
“We will never forget this,” Lia said. “Never. Ever.”
— Michael Totten is author of the upcoming Where the West Ends, which can be pre-ordered here.