- Russia uses frozen conflicts to keep the South Caucasus under strategic control
- Accordingly, Moscow will not allow military or political solutions to territorial disputes
- Kremlin will look to keep hot spots smoldering and continue creeping annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Even after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, control of the South Caucasus remains a strategic priority for Russia. Since the end of the 18th century, Moscow has been seeking unfettered access to the Mediterranean from ports on the Black Sea. The precondition for this is to hold a position of strength against Turkey.
The restoration of independence to the South Caucasus states in the early 1990s was accompanied by armed conflicts that have yet to be resolved. Following the brief Russo-Georgian war in August 2008, the separatist enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia pulled further away from Georgia and placed themselves under the Kremlin’s political and military protection, attempting to secure their status as independent states.