Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Marc Champion

Ukraine Can Still Call Putin's Bluff

Ukraine can learn from Georgia's experience with a Russian invasion, but 2008 isn't 2014.
Pro-Russian Ukrainians on the march; they may not want Putin to come to their rescue. Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Pro-Russian Ukrainians on the march; they may not want Putin to come to their rescue. Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As we steel ourselves for the prospect of a war in Ukraine, perhaps we can avoid it by learning the lesson of some recent history.

In August 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili claimed he was sending his forces into the separatist Georgian territory of South Ossetia because Russia had just invaded. His claim was quickly debunked, yet in a sense he may have been right: Russia had already intervened illegally, just not in the way he tried to sell to the world.