Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2009

Restoring Georgia's Sovereignty in Abkhazia

David L. Phillips

July 2008

Atlantic Council


This report evaluates the international community's response to the conflict in Abkhazia. It recommends a package of immediate measures to the Georgian and Abkhaz sides to prevent the escalation of violence. As part of a multi-year strategy, it also suggests steps that Georgians, Abkhaz, and international stakeholders can take to lay the ground for future negotiations. In addition, the report proposes a diplomatic initiative by the United States and the European Union (EU) that would restore Georgia's sovereignty, while preserving the interests of Abkhaz.

The immediate priority is mitigating conflict. Russia's recent actions, however, have brought Russia and Georgia to the brink of war. The United States and key European allies should strongly urge Russia to reverse its decision establishing legal ties to Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its paratroopers. Western allies should also publicly affirm that recognition, de-facto annexation of Abkhazia, or acts of war constitute a line that Russia must not cross.