As the world continues to focus on the ongoing conflict in Syria and the investigations into the Trump campaign, Russia seized a portion of internationally-recognized territory in Georgia.
The land seizure was bloodless and silent, with Russian troops moving an “administrative boundary line” approximately 700 meters deeper into Georgian territory. They then placed green warning signs along the new supposed border. Russia’s move essentially seized 10 hectares (about 25 acres) worth of Georgian territory, according to a Yahoo News report.
Russian forces have occupied South Ossetia since 2008, when Russia and Georgia engaged in a war over the region. The international community generally agrees that South Ossetia is occupied territory that rightfully belongs to Georgia.
These “salami tactics” have been going on for years, according to Russia analyst and blogger Brian Whitmore. Russian forces are now less than a mile from a major highway linking the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and Poti and Batumi, two Georgian ports. The highway is considered “one of the main transportation arteries in the South Caucuses, said Whitmore in a video for The Daily Vertical published Tuesday. The move could allow Russian forces to threaten Georgia’s infrastructure should conflict flare up again.
Georgia’s government decried Russia’s move as illegal.
“This is a continuation of the illegal process of the so-called borderization, which not only violates the fundamental rights of local residents but directly damages the security situation,” said the Georgian state security services in a statement.
Whitmore noted that the move is as much about psychology as it is territory:
[T]his little trick of moving the conflict line is also part of a psychological game aimed at legitimizing Russia’s occupation of one fifth of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory. Because every time Moscow moves the boundary line, every time they put up one of those green signs, we all start talking about how Russia is moving the ‘border’ with South Ossetia.
As Whitmore noted, Georgia and South Ossetia do not actually have a formal border, as the latter is considered occupied territory.
This report, by Russ Read, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.