Kagan’s take as of last night:
It appears that Saakashvili has signed without significant change the document Sarkozy presented him. If true, it has the following consequences
- Georgia has been compelled to agree to an international treaty (on the non-use of force regarding Abkhazia and South Ossetia) that it had been refusing to sign, effectively coerced by the presence of Russian forces on Georgian soil and continued aerial attacks.
- The military situation is NOT a return to the status quo ante:
- Russian air attacks and ground fighting have severely degraded the Georgian military, so that it is not in any way comparable to the force Georgia had before the fighting began; Russian losses have been trivial in comparison with Russia’s military power
- The agreement does not appear to contain provisions for the presence of Georgian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, even though the 1992 agreement by which Russian forces are there stipulated a tripartite peacekeeping force.
- Saakashvili has apparently requested that Russia leave in place only the same kinds of troops that had been present in Georgia previously (i.e., not armored forces or crack troops), but it is not clear that that demand is reflected in the actual agreement.
- The political/diplomatic situation is also not a return to the status quo ante:
- Although the agreement requires both sides to enter negotiations about the future status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian leadership has repeatedly declared that it will not negotiate with Saakashvili, that Saakashvili is no longer a “partner,” and so on, so the terms of the negotiation will be very different from those that existed before this conflict
- The Russian Attorney General has declared that Russia can charge Saakashvili or any other Georgian official with crimes under Russian law, and an investigative commission has been set up in Vladikavkaz to make the case
- The Russian leadership has repeatedly declared that it cannot see any circumstance in which Abkhazia and South Ossetia would “return” to Georgian state control
- The international agreement on the non-use of force the Russians just compelled Saakashvili to sign now also has the imprimatur of the European Union, since it was presented by Sarkozy in his capacity as EU president—previously it had been a document under negotiation between Georgia and Russia without external participation
- In sum, there has been no compromise. Russia has imposed its demands upon Georgia by force, under coercion and in the midst of partial military occupation, under the auspices of the European Union.