What Russia’s invasion of Georgia means for Crimea
The crisis in Ukraine has a recent precedent: Russia’s aggression in Georgia in August 2008. For an insider’s view on what happened then and what the stakes are now, I talked via e-mail with Daniel Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy from September 2005 to September 2008.
Fata, who was the senior Pentagon official on duty supporting Defense Secretary Robert Gates as news of Russia’s invasion broke, believes that Putin was “never punished by the international community” for the aggression in Georgia. Crimea, Fata adds, “is in many ways a redux” of the August 2008 war. Back then there was a period of confusion as the conflict broke out late on a Thursday night when many senior officials were out of town, and there was no well-established U.S. or European position on the issue. “We were scrambling for information during these critical initial hours. My desk officer, who had great personal ties at the highest levels in Tbilisi, had the most usable real time information via texts from his friends in Georgia.”