What Will the Fallout of the Sanctions Be for Georgia?

It seems even in light of the collapse of the USSR, Russia and America find themselves incapable of working together. They hate and reject each other. They are clearly both natural and cultural antipodes. They always fight and, in the exchange of those belligerent blows, they both hurt. Why do they do this? They say the justification is in the exigency of keeping up their national interests. If this is true, then the suffering of Georgia will never end because Georgia has made its historical choice to follow the western way of development, which for Russia is like a red muleta for a bull.

Hard to believe but the Russian-Georgian geopolitical deadend is one of the multiple reasons for the Russian-American squabble: Russia is Georgia’s declared enemy and America is its friend, whereas America is Russia’s longstanding rival, so the consequential picture looks sourly disagreeable for Georgia. Hence an average angry-with-Russia Georgian might be celebrating the recent aggravation of American sanctions against Russia, but the story of sanctions becomes so dubious that it might not be good enough a cause to settle the dangerously swollen and fossilized Russian-Georgian scores.

Rumor has it that sanctions are hurting the Russian economy and the politically valuable Russian oligarchic elite to a certain extent, but we also hear that Russia could easily retaliate against the United States without even hurting its own sources of wealth. America has threatened that it will soon impose a new wave of even stricter sanctions on Russia because it wants to punish Moscow for its international misdemeanor and insists that more draconian measures could follow. When one sees the Russian and American presidents hug and pat each other on the shoulder, one might start taking those much-talked-about sanctions as a joke, though the US administration is almost certain that the Russian people will soon feel what an American-style economic punishment really means.

The first fruits of the American sanctionomania are visibly at hand – the already weak Russian Ruble has further staggered against the powerful American Dollar, which has also instigated the fall of the Georgian currency. This means that no sanction is a one-sided punitive financial measure. Georgians might think that the American economic sanctions are teaching the Russians a good lesson, but it may well hurt the Georgian economy too, thus further deteriorating the standard of living in general. So, celebrating the American sanctions against Russia might not be so smart for the geopolitically heartbroken and economically impaired Georgia.

The sanctions are broken up into two stages: the first is comparably mild and going into force from the end of August, and the next is more severe, to be imposed in three months if Russia does not comply with the demands of the first stage. The details of those sanctions are unclear and there is much online discourse on the topic. But what will those sanctions might mean to Georgia, and if they do at all, how bad could it get? Against the background of growing tensions between Russia and America, the hopeful presumption is that the current Russian government is smart enough not to allow any self-damage and that it will take the American sanctions seriously, which sounds like a prerequisite for peace in the world and a chance for Georgia to avoid any fearsome confusions in the vague Russian-Georgian-American triangle. It has been proven that it is not very easy to break Russia with sanctions and isolate her internationally, but if Russia plays a stubborn toughie when faced with the sanctions, the diplomatic relations between the world’s strongest players might be severed, and Georgia may find itself totally on the side of Russia’s worst enemy. Meanwhile, Georgia should not forget that Russia is not completely alone in the international arena, and garnering American support for itself might trigger the loss of some useful current partnerships in the long run. It looks like Georgia has got more than it can consume and digest on its plate...

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

16 August 2018 18:07