Replay of Georgia 2008 ominously looming in East Ukraine

History is said not to repeat itself, at least not exactly. But current desperate developments in the Donetsk oblast (with insurgents now calling themselves the Donetsk Republic) bear comparisons with Georgia in August 2008 before the outbreak of hostilities in South Ossetia. At that time Georgia was under what was described later as 'unbearable provocation' over actions by forces in South Ossetia which were challenging the frontier with Georgia and various Georgian villages within South Ossetia.

The point of comparison is that Russia denied responsibility for these actions, whereas Russian direction of these developments, as well as aerial bombardments of Georgia territory was clear to all. Saakashvili in the end ceded to the provocation with a militarily hopeless attempt to take South Ossetia, beginning with artillery attack on Tskinvali, and so on to the loss of any hope of reunification with South Ossteia and Abkhazia.

Now in Donetsk Russia denies any responsibility for the well armed and coordinated attacks on public buildings by unidentified forces. The credibility of Russian denials is zero, given that it went through the same process of denial in Crimea just a few weeks ago. Kyiv is under unbearable pressure to restore order, while its latest ultimatum that it would engage in assault on the occupied buildings this morning has passed without action. Russia takes the matter to the UN Security Council on Sunday evening to denounce the failings of Kyiv to control its territory, coupled to allegations of Western responsibility for it all.

Our last blog set out what the Quad meeting scheduled for this Thursday could perfectly well agree in order to end the crisis. As of today Russia is threatening to boycott the meeting, seeming to prefer to deepen the crisis even more dangerously both for Ukraine, and for itself.