Russia: May 10, 2004


The newly elected Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili has apparently established a personal relationship with newly re-elected president Vladimir Putin. This is making it possible for Georgia to eliminate local warlords, who have been backed by Russian generals in charge of Russian military bases left over from the Cold War. This odd situation developed after Georgia declared its independence in the wake of the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991. Politics in the Caucasus has never been simple, and the situation in Georgia became more and more complicated throughout the 1990s as Russia tried to deal with rebellious Chechnya (to the north of Georgia) and an ugly situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan (two more former parts of the Soviet Union) to the south. Russia refused to withdraw Cold War era garrisons, and backed separatist Georgian warlords in order to exercise some influence over the Georgian government.


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