Russian Interference in Abkhazia and South Ossetia: An Analysis

Open Access
Kennedy, O Neill
Area of Honors:
International Politics
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Catherine Wanner, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Russia
  • Georgia
  • South Ossetia
  • Abkhazia
  • Russian world
  • international politics
  • political science
  • international relations
  • Russian studies
The year 1991 was not only the year of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, but also the year in which secessionist movements arose in several post-Soviet states. Two of these movements, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, led to full-scale war and remain unresolved to this day. As these territories have been unable to secede completely from their parent state, Georgia, and establish themselves as independent states, they have sought support from the Russian Federation, especially since the year 2000, when Vladimir Putin first became President. Most scholars have concluded that Russia is strengthening its relationships with these territories out of a desire to annex them and that South Ossetia is further along the path to annexation than Abkhazia. Theorizing that Russia is increasing Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s reliance on the Putin government as a prelude to annexation, I examine the ethnic makeups of these territories and their underdeveloped political institutions in order to explain how Russia’s involvements differ between the two territories.