Kosovo independence to spark chain reaction in Caucasus?
Russia's military chief of staff, Yury Baluevskyk says if Kosovo's independence becomes a reality, other frozen conflict zones could be affected.
“If we cross the Rubicon and Kosovo gains independent status tomorrow, frankly speaking, I expect this independence to echo in other regions as well, including those close to Russia's borders. You perfectly understand what I mean – I mean Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester,” Baluevsky said.
In the past, South Ossetia and North Ossetia were one. In the 1920s the Bolsheviks and Joseph Stalin separated them. They decided that South Ossetia should become autonomous within the Soviet Republic of Georgia, while North Ossetia become an autonomous republic inside the Russian Federation.
In 1992, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia.
In response Georgia sent its troops to the region. A violent conflict followed.
After several months of fierce fighting, Russian peacekeepers entered the capital Tskhinvali to separate the conflicting sides.
Despite its calls for independence, and a referendum result showing that's what people living there want, South Ossetia has not been recognised by the international community.
Even with the majority of the local population being ethnic Ossetians who also hold Russian citizenship, officially the area remains a part of Georgia.
Yury Morozov, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed republic, says Ossetians have been living in this region for years and they deserve independence:
“We've got used to the double standards of the West. I believe that the people of South Ossetia have much more reason for gaining independence than the Kosovan Albanians though I do respect them of course”.
In Georgia, both government officials and opposition leaders refuse to let South Ossetia go.
Although Russia has not recognised South Ossetia's independence either, some politicians say that it should be considered. Russia's State Duma is planning to address this issue in the coming months.
If Kosovo gets its independence, it's possible that Ossetians will once again ask the world to recognise their republic as well.