The worst of many worst-case scenarios for the current crisis in Ukraine is open warfare between the country’s military and invading Russian forces. That’s what happened six years ago in Georgia, as the map above shows. When Georgian troops tried to restore control over the de-facto-autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia intervened to defend their independence from Tbilisi. The Russians drove the Georgians back and were en route to the capital when French mediators negotiated a truce.
Now Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which defeated the Georgian navy in a battle on August 9, 2008, is blockading Ukrainian warships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Yet it isn’t clear what Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks they’re doing there, exactly, and so far, the Ukrainian military has shown restraint. Only a few warning shots have been fired.
The Ukrainians clearly have no interest in war, and seem to be hoping that Putin will eventually give up and call his troops off. Russian commanding officers might not be spoiling for a fight, either. Ukraine’s armed forces are much more powerful than Georgia’s, and through Russia defeated Georgia, the conflict revealed embarrassing weaknesses in the Russian military.
Map by Andrei Nacu used under free documentation license. Click below for further analysis of the military situation.