Speakers: Andrew Wolff, Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Dickinson College; Craig Nation, Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies, US Army War College; Elena Aysakova, Russian State University for the Humanities; Neil Weissman, Provost and Dean, Dickinson College. Russell Bova, Moderator, Professor of Political Science and International Studies (Sep 9, 2008 at Dickinson College, Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues) Topical Background In July 2008, conflict between Ossetian militia and Georgian armed forces boiled to a new high, causing Georgia to launch a surprise operation in order to seize control of South Ossetia. However, tension within Georgia began more than a decade ago in 1990 when Georgia abolished South Ossetia's autonomy eventually resulting in ethnic fighting. When Georgia and Russia signed a peace treaty in 1992, Russian troops began patrolling the South Ossetia border. Over the years, Moscow has viewed itself as the protector of the enclave, which has been under pressure from the central government in Georgia. On August 8, 2008 while countries around the world joined together in a display of unity during the Opening Ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games, organized Russian military forces advanced into the Republic of Georgia, one of the 15 former republics of the Soviet Union, to support separatist movements in the South Ossetia region seeking independence from Georgia. The recent conflict in Georgia is Russia's largest military engagement outside its borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In response to the conflict, U.S. President, George W. Bush stated that, "The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia and insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected." As of August 22, the Russian Army reportedly finished their withdrawal from the territory of Georgia. However, two days later on August 25, 2008 the Russian Parliament unanimously voted to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations. This panel brings together experts on Russia, Eurasia, and U.S. foreign policy to discuss the current crisis, the apparent resurgence of a more assertive Russia, and the implications for U.S. foreign policy and U.S.- Russian relations.
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