Every now and then, Russian operatives go out in some field in Georgia, sometimes at night, tear down a fence and put up a new one, making Russia bigger and Georgia smaller. You may remember a related incident that happened during the McCain-Obama election, of which much was made.
This constantly changing boundary has already divided communities and swallowed up homes in Georgia, a country of 3.7 million that hopes to one day join NATO.
Many consider it nothing short of a silent, creeping occupation on the fringes of Europe supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“What should I do? If the Russians come closer I will not be able to do anything,” Vasya, 51, said with a shrug and a waft of a freshly lit cigarette. He wants only his first name used for fear of reprisals by nearby border guards.
The Russians have been trying to Russianize Ossetians living in the nearly island like enclave in Georgia for decades, and eventually issued many Russian passports.
It is the standard Russian move. Make up a situation in which there are people in some territory that say “Hey, we’re Russians. Where’s Russia! Come help us, Russia!” Then, the tanks roll in. In this case, until Putin put Trump in the US White House, the US helped Georgia resist this move in South Ossetia. No more. Trump is screwing over an important ally in the region.
In Georgia, there is a saying. You use it when you are disagreeing with someone. “We can discuss this in the morning. But during the night, I will sneak into your house and cut your throat,” or words to that effect. Well, now it’s Trump cutting the throat of Georgia.
“We can do nothing to protect ourselves … we cannot start war on them,” said Temuri Khuroshvili, 59, a retired police officer whose cinder-block house is in one of the 52 villages on the boundary. His home is surrounded by annexed territory on three sides.
“What can you do against Russia? They do whatever they can,” he said as he sat in the roadside shade while rusty tractors groaning under bales of hay rattled through the dusty lane. “The Russians don’t care at all.”
This is not the kind of mess that an actual US President, when we get one, is going to be able to clean up easily.