As the Russian economy tanks, some observers are starting to ask: is the Kremlin now too overstretched to continue supporting Georgia’s separatist entities? The answer so far apparently is no.
With six breakaway client entities now to finance – Abkhazia, Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, South Ossetia and Transnistria – the Kremlin’s financial commitments are adding up. But, so far, in the strategic South Caucasus, Moscow’s security interests are outweighing any economic pain that it is feeling.
And the Russian economy surely is reeling. Sanctions introduced by the European Union and United States over Russian aggression in Ukraine, and a retaliatory Russian ban on Western food imports, have caused food prices to skyrocket. A dramatic fall in energy revenue, along with the rapid devaluation of the ruble, is exacerbating the damage. Consumer prices rose 15 percent in January compared to the same period in 2014.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.