Conflict Trends Update

GEORGIA Breakaway territory South Ossetia’s de facto president Anatoly Bibilov announced last Friday a referendum scheduled for 17 July on whether the region — which Moscow recognised as an independent state in 2008 — should accede to the Russian Federation. Bibilov was defeated in second-round elections earlier this month by Alan Gagloev, who will take over as de facto president next week. Crisis Group expert Olesya Vartanyan says that if the referendum goes ahead, the majority of the local population of some 30,000 people will certainly vote in favour of joining Russia. But whether Moscow promptly proceeds with annexation depends on its readiness to revise the status quo that has been in place for almost fourteen years and risk precipitating a new crisis in another post-Soviet state, which could divert its focus from the war in Ukraine.

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