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Faculté des sciences économiques, sociales, politiques et de communication (ESPO)
Ecole des Sciences Politiques et Sociales (PSAD)

 
 

Russo-Georgian War 2008
Decision-Making Process – Putin and Medvedev
Travail réalisé par
Kaja Wojtczak
LSPRI2080– Foreign Policy Analyses
Tangay Struye de Swielande
Année académique 2014-2015
Master en Sciences Politiques. Orientation Relations Internationales. Finalité Diplomatie
et Resolution de Conflits
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Plan
I.

Introduction. Russo-Georgian Conflict Context

II.

Decision: Mainly actors points of view

III.

Decision-making process
1. Analyse at the individual level
1.1. Presentation of the main actors – Individual level (cognitive approach)
a.
Vladimir Putin
b.
Dmitri Medvedev
c.
Putin-Medvedev Comparison
1.2. Medvedev and Putin Advisors. Way of thinking (cognitive approach) and
group structure (role approach) – Group level.

2. Analyse at the State (Russia political regime) and Systemic Level (Russia as
international power) and the National role (cognitive approach).
IV.
V.

Conclusion
Bibliography

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1  

I. Introduction. Russo-Georgian Conflict Context
Ethnic clashes between Georgians and Ossetians have a long history. The first war
between Georgians and Ossetia took place after the collapse of the Russian Empire in 19181920, then a second one in 1989 when South Ossetia proclaimed connection with North
Ossetia and when declared independence1.
In 1992 there was a ceasefire and in the South Ossetian some peacekeeping force ware
formed, composed of Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian troops. Such a stable truce lasted
until 2004, when the deterioration of Russian-Georgian relations began sporadic armed
incidents2.
In 2007, the Georgian authorities have proposed a creation of the Autonomous
Republic of South Ossetia, being a part of Georgia. In April 2007, the Parliament of Georgia
established in South Ossetia, an "Interim Territorial Unit of South Ossetia" and the
"Provisional Administration of South Ossetia." The announcement of independence by
Kosovo in February 2008 encouraged the separatist authorities in South Ossetia to break away
from the territory of Georgia. President Kokoity demanded the Constitutional Court of Russia
to recognize his republic as part of the territory of the Russian Federation.
In July, in Georgia, military exercises began - the "Immediate Response-2008" organized by
the NATO's program "Partnership for Peace". The objective was to take control of the area
occupied by the separatists.
At the same time, the south of Russia, which borders Georgia, began the great military
manoeuvres.
In August 2008, after the collapse of the Georgian-Ossetian talks, Georgia began the armed
attack on South Ossetia territory. On August the first, a bomb trap exploded, killing some
Georgian policemen.
From 2 to 7 august, at night, there were exchanges of fire between Georgians and Ossetians.
Both parties claimed that they only responded to attacks of the other one.
Russia responded to this attack by a counterattack, displacing at first Georgian troops from
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and then projecting the force on the sovereign territory of
Georgia. As decided in the military plan, Russian troops took control on some cities and
destroyed their enemy equipment and infrastructure3.
Chechen separatists reported on its website that they found some documents indicating
the planned invasion of Russia. According to these documents, the invasion would take place
between 20 August and 10 September. The operation would be coordinated with the
Abkhazian separatists and would proceed along two lines: a rapid occupation of the Kodori
Valley (the only part of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia) and then an attack in South Ossetia
and occupation of the cities Kutaisi and Tskhinvali, and all that between 7 to 10 days. As

                                                                                                               
1

GERMAN T. C. et BLOCH B., « Le conflit en Ossétie-du-Sud : la Géorgie contre la Russie », Politique étrangère,
2006/1 Printemps, pp. 51-64.
2
CHICLET Ch., « Le conflit Russo-Géorgien », Confluences Méditerranée, 2008/4 N°67, pp. 111-115.
3
Ibid.

 

2  

reported by Kavkaz-Center, President Putin issued the order personally, before stepping down
from his post4.
That was the beginning of Georgia-Ossetian war, which Russia decided to join.

                                                                                                               
4
Ibid.  
 

3  

II. Decision
The Russian president D. Medvedev met Georgian president Saakashvili for the first
times in St. Petersburg, in Constantine Palace. During this meeting President Medvedev told
him “ You know, there is many problems in our regimes at the moment, Georgia is (still) in
conflict with this unrecognised states, but I can assure you that as a new re-elected president
of Russia, I should do everything in my capacity to help you find some compromise solutions
that will accommodate everyone and I will eventually facilitate you the reintegration in
Georgian territory, if it’s acceptable for both parties engaged in negotiations 5 ” and
Saakashvili responded that they are ready to cooperate, but first of all they need opportunities
to meet on a regular basis6.
During the next month, Medvedev, was, regularly checking any feedback for a
Georgian counterpart but he found nothing.
Some time after, Dimitri M. realised that Georgia broke off all communication with Russia
after the US Secretary of State visit. For Medvedev this situation became a moment of truth,
he realised that from this moment, Georgia has other plans7.
During a television program, a journalist asked Medvedev, how as president, he can
decide what is a war or what it is not. When a military intervention can take place or not?
And, how as President, he commended his decisions in Georgia? “It’s always case by case” responded Medvedev, “there are not identical countries or identical solutions. Georgia has
been splinted 3 parts by the time of the war, and it should be to pull the country back together
and restore a constitutional order”8.
Medvedev didn’t look any figures or motivations before decide to act. From August 7 to
August 8 he received phone calls from different ministers (he was on vacations on the time).
The Prime Minister told him that Georgia had launched a full-scale combat operations.
Medvedev’s initial reaction was to complete doubt. He told Putin that they should verify this
information, that Saakashvili probably lost his mind and that maybe it is just a provocation,
trying to send some kind of message to Russia9.
Later, Vladimir Putin declared that this is no bluff and that the Georgians turn on all
their artillery. Medvedev decided to wait for and other update. So, some time past and the
Prime Minister called again “ I have something to tell you, I believe that they have just level
the tenth for all of our peacekeepers killing everyone of them”10.

                                                                                                               
5

DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
6
ROXBURGH, A., The Strongman. Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia, London, New-York, I.B. Tauris,
2012, p. 234.
7
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
8
Ibid.
9
ROXBURGH, A., Op.cit.,p. 246.
10
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).

 

4  

Indeed, the Georgian president Saakashvili had given the order for his military forces to
attack Russian forces moving from Java in South Ossetia, at night of August 7, at 23.3511.
The Russian President ordered his army to return fight and shoot to kill. After the war, he said
it was a kind of instant decision, but the hardest one in his life.
So, soldiers returned and fired, but the operation continued after that. He made the
decision to continue the operation.
Apparently, no one called anyone at the decision time12. Prime Minister didn’t call the
President and vice versa.
Medvedev contacted Putin 24 hours after it broken out. Putin made the statement condemning
the move and for Medvedev that was the right one to do. For him, as a president, it was very
difficult to establish the secure of living for men being in some other place, other country13.
The Media announced that on base of Article 102 of the Russia’s Constitution, the president
has the obligation to get parliament approval before and after sending military troops in
another country14. According to Stanislav Secrieru, (a security expert at the Center for East
European and Asian Studies in Bucharest) in case of the war in Georgia the president didn’t
have any meeting with the Federation Council until the end of the war. However, during one
of public medias programs, he mentioned that a brief moment before Putin’s back, he called
for meeting the Security Council. He explained his position to return fire and engage Russia
in conflict. He said that Security Council members supported his decision15. Some time later
they had also a meeting in Sochi, which Putin attended.
This problem of Council consultation came back after the end of the war, and then Federal
Council declared that Russia didn’t deploy new troops but have already increased the level of
army in South Ossetia16. So, this juridical formula was used to cover up all Medvedev
Georgian actions.
Apparently it was Sarkozy17 (at the time President of European Union) who persuaded
Medvedev to hold Russian forces in Tbilisi, however Medvedev denied - “No head of state is
capable to tell another head of state to do anything”18 said he. According to Medvedev taking
cities was not a Russian wish; their go was to stop the Georgian war machine. When Sarkozy
came to Moscow he said he’s understanding and agreeing Medvedev because he would like
having a part in stopping this conflict. So Medvedev said, “all right, let’s made a plan
                                                                                                               
11  ASMUS,  R.D.,  A  little  war  that  shook  the  World.  Georgia,  Russia  and  the  Future  of  the  West,  New  York,  

Palgrave  Macmillan,  2010,    p.  19.  
Ibid., p. 246.
13
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
14
DW, Nick Amies, Medvedev's push for control of Russian military unsettles Caucasus,
http://www.dw.de/medvedevs-push-for-control-of-russian-military-unsettles-caucasus/a-5004308 (Consulted on
December 13, 2014).
15
ROXBURGH, A., Op.cit., p. 246.
16
DW, Nick Amies, Medvedev's push for control of Russian military unsettles Caucasus,
http://www.dw.de/medvedevs-push-for-control-of-russian-military-unsettles-caucasus/a-5004308 (Consulted on
December 13, 2014).
17
ROXBURGH, A., Op.cit., p. 246-250.
18
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
12

 

5  

together” later named “Medvedev and Sarkozy Devise 6-Point Peace Plan for the Georgia
War”. For Medvedev, the best thing about what made Sarkozy is that he had the courage to
come to Russia at the time when everybody was talking about what Russian had done. He
went to Georgia in his own initiative19.
Some people think that the decisive role in decision-making process in RussoGeorgian war, was played by the Medvedev’s mentor, so by the precedent Commander-inChief Vladimir Putin. It should be him who prepared the plan to cast back Georgia and then
order its execution. Everyone knows that Medvedev has an opinion of Putin’s puppets.
According to ex-Chief of General Staff and former deputy secretary of the Security Council
Yuri Baluyevsky “only after then-Prime Minister Putin called from Beijing and “distributed
kicks in the backside”, did Medvedev authorize implementation of an existing contingency
plan for responding to use of force in Georgia”20. Putin confirmed he called Medvedev and
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov from Beijing on August 7 and 8 despite the fact that he
was Prime Minister at the time, and as Prime Minister, he didn’t have any authority to give
instructions to the Minister of defence who reports to the president21.
Medvedev confirmed that he is not ashamed of his decision because “there were no
others ways to stop the tragedy”22. With his advisors he sought no other possible decisions.
He accepted all consequences.
He mentioned he was open and wished see Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia negotiating,
discuss how to live side by side, establish peace and security.
Medvedev is also an emotional person. He said during a meeting on television that he suffers
because of what happened then, but he is convinced that the decision to act and to recognize
those new republics was a right decision to make under international law. He believes his
actions were constitutional. He believes his decisions were lawful and necessary23.
Only four years after the war, Russian leaders admitted that war in Georgia was
planned for a long time ago. What's more, apparently, Russia did provoke this violence
situation24.
Firstly, Russia argued that Georgia triggered the war and that the Russian army was struck in
defence of residents of South Ossetia and the Russian "peacekeepers" in Tskhinvali, attacked
by Georgian aggressor.
In 2012 Russian leaders and generals admitted that Russia was preparing this war since 2006
and that was just waiting for an excuse to invade.
                                                                                                               
19

Ibid.
POWER&POLICY, Simon Saradzhyan, Putin vs. Medvedev on Georgia war in 2008,
http://www.powerandpolicy.com/2012/08/10/putin-vs-medvedev-on-georgia-war-in-2008/#.VIt_0b5FmQs,
(Consulted on December 13, 2014).
21
Ibid.
22
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
23
Ibid.
24
TVN24, Grzegorz Kuczyński, Rosja zaplanowała atak na Gruzję. Putin przyznał się po czterech latach.,
http://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-ze-swiata,2/rosja-zaplanowala-atak-na-gruzje-putin-przyznal-sie-po-czterechlatach,270312.html, (Consulted on December 13, 2014).  
20

 

6  

In August 2012 years appeared a 47-minute "documentary" film "August 8, 2008. The Lost
Day" based on the statements of several high-ranking generals, accusing the President Dmitry
Medvedev to order the attack on Georgia to late; they mentioned that because of his
indecision and cowardice 1 thousand people died. According to Yuri Bandayevski (Chief of
the General Staff of the Russian army in 2008) the decision to invade was taken by Putin
before Medvedev took over the presidency in May 2008. All military plans were prepared but
Medvedev hold off. It was only when Putin called from Beijing that Medvedev and Minister
of defence fell the order to attack. Putin confirmed it, Medvedev not25.
General Staff of the Armed Forces prepared a plan for military action against Georgia in late
2006, and Putin authorized it at the beginning of 2007. Putin said that Russia's military
operation had already started August 6 - more than a day before the attack on Tskhinvali. The
Russian authorities were not surprised by the actions of Georgia, even Putin (in China) was
perfectly aware of the situation. He received information about what has happened 5, 6, 7 and
8 August directly from Tskhinvali26.

                                                                                                               
25
26

 

Ibid.
Ibid.

7  

III. Decision-making process. Analyse
1. Individual level
1.1. Presentation of the main actors
a.

Vladimir Putin27

Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad on October 7 in 1954.
Putin's family has a tradition of "relationships with the government" in Russia stretching back
a long way. Vladimir Putin's grandfather as a boy delivered meals for Rasputin, later
becoming Lenin’s and also Stalin’s chief of kitchen.
Putin was the second child of Mary and Vladimir Putin. Their first child - 2-year-old Victor
died in 1941, probably because of malnutrition and lack of medicines. Although, little
Volodya growing up among the “lumpenproletariat”, was spoiled for choice. In the book of
the Journalist Masha Gessen "Putin. Man Without a Face " she’s saying that in elementary
school he was the only child having a watch28. Because of his character, teachers didn’t
foretell him a great career. They believed that, at best, he will operate in secret police, but
there were also some people thinking that Volodya will, one day, roll down a life of crime29.
In 1975 he graduated from the Faculty of Law of Leningrad State University. During
his studies, he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, remaining
there until its activities were prohibiting in 1991. Already in college he was been recognized
by the KGB as a candidate to serve.
After graduation, he started working for the KGB (work in KGB was his biggest dream30) as
an operations officer. In 1990 he became an advisor to the rector of Leningrad State
University for Foreign Affairs 31 and he started to work with the Chairman of the Leningrad
City Council Anatoly Sobchak. Thanks to his all-political positions32 he had the opportunity
to establish contacts  with the most important people of the country. In 1996 he was called to
work in the administration of Russian President Boris Yeltsin33. Putin was appointed deputy
head of the presidential administration of real estate, and in 1997 the deputy head of the
presidential administration and the chief of the Board of Control34.
After a few years of work in the central administration of the Russia35 he won the confidence
of the most important people in the country. Thanks to the support of Anatoly Chubais and
                                                                                                               
27

GESSEN M., Putin, człowiek bez twarzy, Warszawa, Prószyński i Sk-a, 2012, pp. 49-78.
Ibid., p. 53.
29
Ibid., p. 55.
30
Ibid., p. 58.
31
Ibid., p. 69.
32
In 1990 Putin was appointed chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the office of mayor. August 20,
1991, during a coup in Moscow, Putin appeared from service in the KGB. In 1992-1996, he served as deputy
mayor of St. Petersburg, responsible for international relations and foreign investments.
33
The initiator download Putin in Moscow was the then head of the presidential administration Anatoly Chubais.
34
GESSEN M., Op.cit., pp. 79-108.
35
From May to July 1998, he was the first deputy head of the presidential administration. From July 1998 to
August 1999 he was head of the Federal Security Service (KGB successor). Since March 1999 he was also
secretary of the Russian Security Council
28

 

8  

Boris Berezovsky, in August 1999 he took the post of Prime Minister. Then, Putin was
perceived as a potential Yeltsin’s successor36.
From 31 December 1999, after the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became Russian
president and on 26 March 2000, he was nominated the head of state37. As a new president,
his purpose was to rebuild Russia as a great power and to remove all effects of the collapse of
the URSS from, for foreign and domestic policy38. In the next presidential election on March
14, 2004 he also won already in the first round.
To form his closest entourage, Vladimir Putin mobilized the contacts established during his
career, first in the KGB, then, in the early 1990s, in mayor of St. Petersburg, where he had as
charge the External economic Relations of the Municipality. Sergei Ivanov (Defence Minister
in 2004) and Nikolai Patrushev (chief of the ex-KGB) became his closest advisors39.
May 7, 2008 he conveyed the post of President to Dmitry Medvedev. The same day,
Medvedev presented to the President of Duma (Boris Gryzlov) the Putin’s candidature for the
post of Prime Minister, which Duma approved on May 2008.
“Putin is someone very progressive in nature, studying the actions according to their
success and who values highly the norms and rules which if not respected would justify the
use of force” 40. He’s an aggressive person. His political life was (and still) very harmonious
and ruled by norms. For him the political future is predictable.
He’s active in many types of sports: ice-hockey, skiing, Sambo41 or Judo (because as he said:
“Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and
weaknesses, to strive for the best results. I am sure you will agree that these are essential
abilities and skills for any politician”42). He’s also interested by the question of animal
protection, natural reserves, fishing, horse-riding and white-water rafting43. Putin's rhetoric is
firm; he knows exactly what he wants from Russia as a State. He is a big “iron” leader having
a vulgar language of expression and heavy jokes44. He’s a type of Fighter and Doctrinaire
decision-maker, with an “active-negative” decision-making style; he has a compulsive,
impatient and sometimes aggressive character.
Vladimir P. is a manly man who created him-self as an image of a strong power.

                                                                                                               
36

GESSEN M., Op.cit., p. 27.
Ibid., pp. 16-48.
38  THOM F., « Poutine. L'heure de vérité », Commentaire, 2014/3 Numéro 147, p. 503.  
39  FAVAREL-GARRIGUE G., « Vladimir Poutine et la monopolisation du pouvoir », L'Économie politique, 2004/1
no 21, p. 9.  
40
Voir les diapositifs du professeur T. de Struye de Swielande. Cours : Foreign Policy Analyses 2014.
41  GESSEN M., Op.cit., p. 57.  
42
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Personal Webside, http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/interests, (Consulted on November 14,
2014).  
43
Ibid.
44
GESSEN M., Op.cit., p. 31.  
37

 

9  

b.

Dmitri Medvedev

Dimitri Anatolievitch Medvedev is born 14 September 1965 in Leningrad, into a
family of intellectuals. His father, Anatoly Afanasewicz Medvedev was a professor at the
Leningrad Institute of Technology. His mother Julia Weniaminowna was a professor and a
philologist at the Institute of Education.
Dimitri is the only child of Medvedev family.
As a teenager he decided to work as a laboratory assistant at the Leningrad Institute of
Technology45.
In 1987 he graduated the Faculty of Law of Leningrad State University and in 1990 he
received the degree of candidate (equivalent at the doctoral degree) of law. During the
doctoral studies he worked as an assistant and then, between 1990 and 1999 as a docent in the
Department of Civil Law and as a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of Leningrad State
University.
Medvedev is married since 1993 with Svetlana. They have a boy named Ilya (born in
1995)46.
During his studies, he met Anatoly Sobchak, who was at this time working at the
Faculty of Law. In 1989, when Sobchak was applying for the mandate of the deputy to the
Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR, Medvedev worked in his election Staff and was
a part of team of Sobchak’s advisors, like Putin. From 1991 Medvedev become a real legal
expert of the Committee of Foreign Affairs office Mayor, headed by Putin. When Sobchak
lost in municipal elections Dimitri decided to leave the work at the government of St.
Petersburg.
In 1999, Medvedev started to work with Putin (then Prime Minister)47 again and when Putin
replaced Boris Yeltsin, Medvedev became a deputy in the President of the Russian Federation
administration, later, in 2000 the deputy of the head of President’s administration, then, some
time later, the head of the President administration.
In November 2005 he was nominated Prime Minister of the Federation of Russia48.
For several years, he was mentioned as one of the main candidates to take the
functions of the President of Russia at the end of Vladimir Putin’s second term in 2008. And
indeed, on December 10, 2007 Russian political parties 49 presented him to Putin as a
candidate for the office of the President. Vladimir endorsed his candidacy.
During the elections, on March 2, 2008 he was the favourite. According to the Central
Election Commission, he won the elections already in the firs round. In front of Kremlin, after
the vote, Putin congratulated him in public.

                                                                                                               
45

BIO, Dimitri Medvedev Biography. Dmitry Medvedev served under Vladimir Putin and succeeded him as
president of Russia in 2008, http://www.biography.com/people/dmitry-medvedev-20638781#synopsis,
(Consulted on November 12, 2014).
46
Ibid.
47
Ibid.
48
Ibid.  
49
United Russia”, “A Just Russia”, an agrarian party of Russia, etc.

 

10  

Medvedev never worked in the KGB, the federal Security or any other kind of
Russia’s intelligence and security institutions 50 . His decision-making style is more like
“passive-positive” one; he has a spirit of cooperation and consensus. He likes the harmony in
the decision-making process. The opinion of other colleagues is important form him, but
without having himself to invest the energy to make a rivalry effect.
He is also a person very active in sports, he’s often swimming and lifting weights. He also
goes doing jogging, does yoga and plays chess. He loves to read bocks. He listens to different
kinds of music including hard rock and Pink Floyd. He’s also a collector of vinyl records.
In February 2008, he took part with Minister Sergei, in the group Deep Purple concert in
Moscow51.
c.

Putin-Medvedev Comparison

To analyse those both heads of Great Russia at the individual level we should consider
Medvedev as a good man at the wrong place during his time in presidency, a good man
influenced by a bad one “without emotions and face”.
For Putin the world is simple, all issues are black or white, in opposition of Medvedev’s
vision of the internal and external scene. Putin is a decision-maker with a low cognitive
complexity, he’s very sure about his decision-making system; he’s a very good example of
narcissism by showing his enormous will of power. He’s a self-confidence man making
decisions guided by his own ideology rather than Medvedev who is very open to new
information; Medvedev is a conciliator type of decision-maker. Saakashvili, after a meeting
with Medvedev, said, “he seemed to have a different style from Putin – he was open, he was
engaging”52.
1.2. Medvedev and Putin Advisors.
The Medvedev-Putin system was characterised by a maintained power opposing 2
groups: Clan of Igor Sechin (vice-prime minister) and Clan of Vladislav Surkov (principalprivate secretary of Medvedev). The first one, more concentrated on domestic department,
energy and defence issues, gathering Putin “friends”, and as for the second one, it mainly
included Medvedev people.
The nearest Putin (and Medvedev) environment is a very few one. As it has previously
been mentioned, Putin chose his advisers already before his first presidential session. The
composition of the group included his old friends from the time of the KGB, including Sergei
Ivanov – the first vice first-minister, an old member of the KGB and, one of the most
influential politicians in Putin group.
                                                                                                               
50

USA.TODAY, Micke Eckel, Medvedev’s political character debated,
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-12-21-109509688_x.htm, (Consulted on November 11, 2014).
51
BIO, Dimitri Medvedev Biography. Dmitry Medvedev served under Vladimir Putin and succeeded him as
president of Russia in 2008, http://www.biography.com/people/dmitry-medvedev-20638781#synopsis,
(Consulted on November 12, 2014).
52
ROXBURGH, A., The Strongman. Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia, London, New-York, I.B. Tauris,
2012, p. 224.

 

11  

Among such persons we have also Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian Minister of Defence in
2007 to 2012 named an “Amnesty man” who took part however in active combat in 2008 in
Georgia53. Vladislav Surkov, the current vice-president of the Russian Government, named
“l’homme de confiance” of Putin is considered as the nearest Putin collaborator. He was
serving three Russian presidents - Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev. He is a man of manipulation
and Russian ideology. Someone says that he’s the creator of Putinism. He always had the
tendency to change “policy hat” depending on who was his boss at the time: a democrat
during the Boris Eltsine presidency, an absolutist when Putin was the Russian leader, and
even a modernizer for president Medvedev54.
It’s possible to note that Medvedev and Putin are a part of a little group of elite
persons, where Putin still the big leader. According to Vladimir Pribylovsky’s theory about
the Medvedev-Putin group, it’s Putin who will always still seen as a tsar surrounded by his
nearest friends and placing Medvedev on the infirm political position.
2. The Sate of Russia.
Starting with the analyse of the decision-making process at the state level everyone
should know that the current political system of the Russian Federation has been formed as a
result of changes taking place in the second half of the 80’s and early 90’s. The desire to
reform the communist regime led ultimately to his downfall and the collapse of the Soviet
Socialist Republics. The system reforms of 1990 introduced the office of president who was
to provide the strengthening of central authority, one center of decision-making and to be a
symbol of multi-ethnic society reconciliation55. Russia is officially a democratic state, with
weak political parties and a strong presidential role in the political system. The field of the
president competences begins to be more extended, contrary to what is written in the
Constitution56.
At the systemic level, it’s remarkable to see how important is the role of Russia on the
international scene. Firstly, it is the largest country in the world, located in Eastern Europe
and northern Asia with an area of 17 075.2 thousand km2. It has access to the sea at north,
east, west and southeast. Russia has more than 140 million inhabitants. Secondly, Russia is
now one of the world leaders in production of the natural gas and crude oil. It’s one of experts
in this domain. Having those resources and the possibility to transfer them creates a
temptation to use them politically. It becomes the most important instruments for achieving
political objectives. It can be said that economic growth of many countries is dependent on
imports from Russia. Russia and USA are also central leaders in monopoly on strategic

                                                                                                               
53

RT, Former Defense Minister Serdyukov given amnesty in power abuse case, http://rt.com/politics/ministerdefense-russia-amnesty-142/, (Consulted on December 2, 2014).
54
LE MONDE.FR, Le nouveau Raspoutine du Kremlin,
http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2011/12/27/vladislav-sourkov-le-nouveau-raspoutine-dukremlin_1599167_3214.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
55
PSZ.PL, System polityczny Rosji, http://www.psz.pl/168-archiwum/anna-glab-system-polityczny-rosji,
(Consulted on July 9, 2015).
56
Ibid.

 

12  

nuclear weapons. This feat gives Russia the status of a key guarantor of peace and security,
what assure Russia a favourable global balance position in world politics57.
At the national level, we can remark the importance of Putin’s identity for the society.
Russia is a specific country, very patriotic, with its own unique concept of empire (such as in
the vision created by Putin). Putin, as a decision-maker has also his own vision of the country.
Like already said, Russia is a power guarantying a global safety. However, it’s an object of
constant, unfriendly outside reaction. It’s why Russia perceives the world like extremely risky
and hostile environment58. As a country, Russia’s wish about war in Georgia was simply to
maintain the influence in post-soviets countries and avoid their integration in NATO.

                                                                                                               
57

ACADEMIA.EU, Rosja w Europie i na Świecie,
https://www.academia.edu/8672454/Podrecznik_Stosunki_Międzynarodowe_Rosja, (Consulted on 9 july, 2015).  
58
KRESY.PL, Rosja na arenie międzynarodowej : 2012-2018 (oczami Putina),
http://www.kresy.pl/publicystyka,analizy?zobacz/rosja-na-arenie-miedzynarodowej-2012-2018-oczami-putina,
(Consulted on July 9, 2015).

 

13  

IV.

Conclusion

For some journalist the war was a good representation of a diplomacy failure.
Russians hoped that their fast military intervention would stop the invasion of Saakashvili.
For the “Deutche Welle” Russian military actions in Georgia were illegal because there was
no Council permission, and that it wasn’t a question of getting Medvedev more power, but
more a question of accelerating the decision-making process59.
Europeans countries still thinking that the Russian initial response was legitimated as
self-defence. Other external actors consider that the further reactions of Russian troupes
become excessive and overtook the initial option to push Georgian forces out of Ossetia.
Medvedev explained that he suppose people are free to make some speculations like this, but
he, as a commander in chief – could not allow American intervention in case of Russia didn’t
act. “That kind of behaviour would be a crime against the memory of those who dead
protecting their land” – said the Russian president60.
After the war in 2008, most states blamed Russia for its military actions, however most of
them changed their opinion in last months of the same year. They said Georgia provoked
Moscow to intervene. Nicu Popescu (one of Russia experts) said - "The general feeling is that
if they don't aggravate Russia, they will be safe. With this new law, Georgia will remain in
line, Russia won't need to act and the region can maintain its uneasy stability"61.
The Georgian crisis of 2008 seems certifying the success of the Putin’s policy because
of his decisions, always pragmatic, never emotional. Russian blackmail encourages
Europeans (especially France and Germany) to block the reconciliation between Ukraine,
Georgia and NATO. The military intervention in Georgia in August 2008 did not arouse any
reaction in the West of Europe. On the contrary, it is after this first Russian aggression that
European countries rush into military cooperation with Moscow, doubly precious in the eyes
of the Kremlin leaders. Firstly because it allowed the transfer of technology necessary to
make better the Russian arsenal, and secondly it facilitated the Moscow’s infiltration in
European military, including French one, what opened the prospect of NATO's paralysis in
case of confrontation with Russia62.
Dimitri Medvedev has never been a political leader. In Western Europe he had (and
still have) a reputation of a sympathetic man. In deed, he never wanted to violate the Georgian
territorial integrity63. However, in Russian policy, his “talent for compromise can be seen as a

                                                                                                               
59

DW, Nick Amies, Medvedev's push for control of Russian military unsettles Caucasus,
http://www.dw.de/medvedevs-push-for-control-of-russian-military-unsettles-caucasus/a-5004308 (Consulted on
December 13, 2014).
60
DEBATE POLITICS, Medvedev explains 2008 War in Georgia, http://www.debatepolitics.com/generalpolitical-discussion/106200-medvedev-explains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
61
DW, Nick Amies, Medvedev's push for control of Russian military unsettles Caucasus,
http://www.dw.de/medvedevs-push-for-control-of-russian-military-unsettles-caucasus/a-5004308 (Consulted on
December 13, 2014).
62
THOM, F., Op.cit., p. 505.
63
ROXBURGH, A., Op.cit., p. 224.

 

14  

sign of weakness”64. According to a political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky “He's not just a
weak man, he's a indecisive man"65.
The decision of entering Russian troops in Georgia was taken in the very short time
and by a very small group of elite persons. Putin has a tendency to centralize forces like a
Director (one of Preston decision-making styles), so it is quite difficult to say with precision,
who really took the decision. In addition, the fact that generals have accused president
Medvedev to take a delayed decision proves that, decisions that are took in a small group can
have as result a significant decrease of the quality of the decision. It proves also that this case
of decision-making process is an example of the “Groupthink”.
Russian decision-making process shows us the Russian high level of political
propaganda. Most likely, we cannot remind here a lack of group professionalism. Putin and
his advisors know each other and work together in the field of international relations for
years.
When the Russo-Georgian war was broking out, the humanity was focused on the
Olympics in Beijing. The decision was so “successfully” undertaken, that the little war in
Georgia shook the whole world.

                                                                                                               
64

USA.TODAY, Medvedev’s political character debated, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-1221-109509688_x.htm, (Consulted on November 11, 2014).
65
Ibid.  

 

15  

V.

Bibliography

 
 
Books
ASMUS, R.D., A little war that shook the World. Georgia, Russia and the Future of the
West, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 250 p.
DE HAAS, M., Russia's foreign security policy in the 21st century: Putin, Medvedev
and beyond, London, Routledge Contemporary security studies, 2010, 211 p.
GESSEN M., Putin, człowiek bez twarzy, Warszawa, Prószyński i Sk-a, 2012, 296 p.
(Polish version of M. Gessen’s book “The Man Without a Face. The Unlikely Rise of
Vladimir Putin”).
ROXBURGH, A., The Strongman. Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia, London,
New-York, I.B. Tauris, 2012, 288 p.
Scientific resources
CHICLET Ch., « Le conflit Russo-Géorgien », Confluences Méditerranée, 2008/4 N°67,
pp. 111-115.
FAVAREL-GARRIGUE G., « Vladimir Poutine et la monopolisation du pouvoir »,
L'Économie politique, 2004/1 no 21, pp. 6-16.
GERMAN T. C. et BLOCH B., « Le conflit en Ossétie-du-Sud : la Géorgie contre la
Russie », Politique étrangère, 2006/1 Printemps, pp. 51-64.
MENDRAS, M., « Le système Poutine », Revue Projet, 2009/2 n° 309, p. 4-9.
THOM F., « Poutine. L'heure de vérité », Commentaire, 2014/3 Numéro 147, pp. 503510.
Internet sources
USA.TODAY, Micke Eckel, Medvedev’s political character debated,
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-12-21-109509688_x.htm,
(Consulted on November 11, 2014).
BIO, Dimitri Medvedev Biography. Dmitry Medvedev served under Vladimir Putin
and
succeeded
him
as
president
of
Russia
in
2008,
http://www.biography.com/people/dmitry-medvedev-20638781#synopsis, (Consulted
on November 12, 2014).
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Personal Webside, http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/interests,
(Consulted on November 14, 2014).
LE
MONDE.FR,
Le
nouveau
Raspoutine
du
Kremlin,
http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2011/12/27/vladislav-sourkov-le-nouveauraspoutine-du-kremlin_1599167_3214.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
RT, Former Defense Minister Serdyukov given amnesty in power abuse case,
http://rt.com/politics/minister-defense-russia-amnesty-142/, (Consulted on December
2, 2014).
 

16  

DW, Nick Amies, Medvedev's push for control of Russian military unsettles
Caucasus,
http://www.dw.de/medvedevs-push-for-control-of-russian-militaryunsettles-caucasus/a-5004308 (Consulted on December 13, 2014).
POWER&POLICY, Simon Saradzhyan, Putin vs. Medvedev on Georgia war in 2008,
http://www.powerandpolicy.com/2012/08/10/putin-vs-medvedev-on-georgia-war-in2008/#.VIt_0b5FmQs, (Consulted on December 13, 2014).
TVN24, Grzegorz Kuczyński, Rosja zaplanowała atak na Gruzję. Putin przyznał się
po czterech latach., http://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-ze-swiata,2/rosja-zaplanowalaatak-na-gruzje-putin-przyznal-sie-po-czterech-latach,270312.html, (Consulted on
December 13, 2014).
PSZ.PL, System polityczny Rosji, http://www.psz.pl/168-archiwum/anna-glab-systempolityczny-rosji, (Consulted on July 9, 2015).
ACADEMIA.EU,
Rosja
w
Europie
i
na
Świecie,
https://www.academia.edu/8672454/Podrecznik_Stosunki_Międzynarodowe_Rosja,
(Consulted on 9 july, 2015).
KRESY.PL, Rosja na arenie międzynarodowej : 2012-2018 (oczami Putina),
http://www.kresy.pl/publicystyka,analizy?zobacz/rosja-na-arenie-miedzynarodowej2012-2018-oczami-putina, (Consulted on July 9, 2015).
Videos
DEBATE
POLITICS,
Medvedev
explains
2008
War
in
Georgia,
http://www.debatepolitics.com/general-political-discussion/106200-medvedevexplains-2008-war-georgia.html, (Consulted on December 1, 2014).
 

 

17  


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