While much of the world focuses on the latest revelation that Donald Trump held a second “undisclosed” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a dinner arranged for all G20 heads of state — as well as the latest bombshell that Trump’s son met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer to attain damaging information on Hillary Clinton — Russia was busy conducting a land-grab in Georgia that the mass media failed to adequately cover.
Kremlin troops reportedly moved a border sign hundreds of yards (approximately 10 hectares, according to Foreign Policy) further into occupied territory in South Ossetia approximately a week before Putin and Trump were set to meet at the G20 summit.
While this is only a smidgen of territory, Georgia’s security agency called the move “illegal” and said it had affected local farmers, who have now effectively been moved into Russian territory.
“This is a continuation of the illegal process of the so-called borderisation, which not only violates the fundamental rights of local residents but directly damages the security situation,” a statement from the national security service read, as reported by the Independent.
The Independent also noted that Georgia’s president Giorgi Margvelashvili said he was outraged by the move and called upon the international community to condemn what he referred to as a “creeping occupation.”
According to Business Insider, Russia has been slowly taking land from Georgia for almost a decade. In 2008, Russia fought a short-lived war in Georgia, which resulted in the formation of two independent states, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
So, what could be Russia’s prime aim in taking hundreds of yards of Georgian territory at a time? As Business Insider explained:
“A spokeswoman for Georgian embassy in Washington told Business Insider it’s too difficult to estimate how much land Russia has seized since 2008 but that Moscow’s main goal in such seizures is to stymie Georgia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO.” [emphasis added]
Funnily enough, the only U.S. official to lambast Russia’s move publicly, Kurt Volker, was appointed by the Trump administration to become America’s special envoy to Ukraine that same day.
Though the perception that Trump is a Russian stooge is widespread, Trump’s team is clearly planning to confront Russia’s regional ambitions in Georgia and Ukraine. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Georgia, along with Estonia and Montenegro in the coming weeks. Montenegro recently joined NATO in a move that clearly didn’t sit well with Russia, which partially explains its desire to keep Georgia in its grasp.
From the United States’ perspective, Russia is attempting a similar strategy in Ukraine that it began in the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. Russia is attempting to partition the territory, and Volker’s appointment as special envoy clearly signals Trump’s intent to try to roll back their initiatives. One should also bear in mind that the U.S. Treasury Department just sent a very clear message to any corporation that even dares to think of undermining American-led sanctions on Russia, as they slapped a $2 million fine on Exxon Mobil for violating Russian sanctions even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the leader at the time.
Any media outlet that continues to paint Trump as a treacherous Russian pawn who will only do Russia’s bidding either isn’t paying enough attention – or is vigorously lying to you.