Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government is slowly expanding the supposed South Ossestian border into Georgia day by day.
Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 under the auspices of protecting the ethnic Russian population, and established the de-facto Russian state of South Ossetia. Experts believe the invasion was meant to deter NATO attempts to bring Georgia into the collective security alliance.
Russia is now deploying bulldozers and Russian border guards further forward on a semi-regular basis, with little resistance from the Georgian military. Reports indicate Russian and Ossestian troops move the border by a few yards at a time night by night. Villagers near the de-facto border told The New York Times they never know what territory is controlled by who because it is so in flux.
“It is too dangerous for me to go home,” one Georgian villager elaborated to TheNYT. He described how his house is now behind the South Ossetian border, and he believes he will be arrested if he tries to go back. “If they keep moving the line, we will one day all be living in a Russian-Georgian Federation,” he elaborated.
Georgian villagers often wake up to a border sign on a new outpost that read, “ATTENTION: State Border. Passage is Forbidden.” The signs language does not specify which state, as South Ossetia’s legal status is in international flux. South Ossetia remains recognized only by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru.
South Ossetia’s supposed leader declared his intent to hold a referendum on whether it should officially join Russia in 2017. Putin publicly displays indifference to the referendum, saying, “we cannot resist it.” Despite its supposed indifference, Russian state security agents often patrol the Ossetian border, and maintain responsibility for its security.
“Unfortunately, Russia never appreciates when you concede or make a step forward or compromise. They always take it for granted,” Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said of the situation. A Georgian villager near South Ossetia told Politico Magazine. “We are tired. People are ready to give up. We are alone. Russia never gets tired. It will win because it waits.”
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