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Georgia and Russia can avoid war – if the West helps

War could mean more pressure on already sky-high oil prices.

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Russia may be provoking a war with Georgia in a territorial dispute over Abkhazia.

Some say Moscow's provocations are merely an effort to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, which it was promised at the alliance's summit in Bucharest this April.

But a war between these two countries would threaten security in the volatile Caucasus and eastern Black Sea region and the booming exports of Caspian energy through Georgia, adding pressure to already sky-high oil prices throughout the world. It would also endanger US and NATO security interests in an area not far removed from the Middle East.

War is worth preventing, but it'll take some help from the United States and European Union.

Thanks largely to wise Russian diplomacy at the time, the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw the emergence of peaceful borders between the 15 new states. One exception was, and still is, Abkhazia, a strategically located separatist region in Georgia. Russia borders the region to the north and exerts military control and economic leverage over it. And now, Russia, which fiercely opposes Georgian membership in NATO, appears to be taking steps to annex Abkhazia – to the chagrin of Georgia.

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