When Putin Invaded My Country: Op-ed by Senior Statesman and Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili

Washington Post

Former President of Republic of Georgia and Senior Statesman at The Fletcher School, Mikheil Saakashvili

In July 2008, the government of Georgia was under considerable pressure: Russia was organizing provocations in two regions of our country and amassing troops at our border. Almost every Western politician to whom my government raised concerns in those days said that Russia would not attack and urged us to keep calm and not react to Russian moves. My friend Otto von Habsburg, one of Europe’s most experienced politicians, was less reassuring. He bluntly predicted that Russia would attack with all the military might at its disposal, no matter what Georgia did to avoid such an outcome. History repeats itself, he told me.

A few weeks later, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers crossed our border, and planes started bombing us round the clock. While Vladi¬≠mir Putin failed to achieve his ultimate goal, to take over Georgia’s capital, his troops still occupy a fifth of my country’s territory.

There are striking similarities between the early stages of Russian aggression against Georgia and what is happening in Ukraine. Watching recent events and the global response, I keep thinking about history repeating itself — and other instances of aggression in Europe.

Read the full op-ed