The Sochi Olympics could become the pretext for a real rapprochement between Moscow and Tbilisi. However, conversation between Russia and Georgia about the insurgency in the North Caucasus never started, and in the future this will be remembered as a missed opportunity.
If Russia were able to overcome its defensive rhetoric and come up with its own version of “a good neighborhood policy,” Georgia would of course benefit; perhaps more significantly, Russia itself would benefit.
Philippe Lefort is stepping down as the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus. Now a new representative will have to start again from zero in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the worry is that in the meantime the Caucasus conflicts will slip down the EU agenda.
The Sochi Olympics are more politicized than any other Games in recent history. A number of world leaders have announced that they would not attend the Games. However, the Kremlin uses foreign criticism as proof of the West's perennial desire to hold Russia back, and keep it weak.
Probably for the first time in the history of the Olympics, sports-related issues concerning the Games took a back seat to the issues of security. Keeping the Sochi Olympics safe is a matter of Russia’s political prestige, as well as the evidence of its ability to respond to terrorism.
The situation in Dagestan is chronically tense, and many analysts think that the civil war there continues. The conflict is accompanied by social Islamicization, as well as the growing influence of radical Islam and Salafi movements.
Europeanization must mean that Georgia becomes an attractive market in terms of human and infrastructural resources, a country which is a reliable contract guarantor and, thereby, a hub and a model for the region as a whole.
The war the terrorists are waging against Russia is for real, and their threats are not empty. Sochi is probably highest on the terrorists’ hit list, and Moscow is another prime target. However, for the time being, the terrorists have focused on some of the softer targets in the south of Russia.