Foreign policy and domestic constraints: what political regimes can and cannot do in Georgia
Kremlin’s old playbook
Recent anti-Kremlin protests have re-established boundaries for rapprochement between Georgia and Russia. Yet it also increased the security and economic risks for Georgia that must be managed properly by Georgia’s political class. Russia’s frustrated reaction indicates realization by the Kremlin that its soft power toolbox (including access to the Russian market, interpersonal contacts, and Orthodox religion) have failed miserably to alter the negative image of Russia among Georgians. Therefore, if history has taught us anything, recent events could be followed by the Kremlin resorting back to coercive methods and reversing economic and cultural ties. The recent announcement by Russian president Vladimir Putin of cancelling direct flights by Russian airlines between Georgia and Russia could be the first sign. The Georgian government may soon discover that making the country’s economy again dependent on Russia was shortsighted, showing a lack of prudence in dealing both with Moscow and with its own people.