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So the Georgia separatist region of South Ossetia, recognised by most Western countries as Russian-occupied is planning to hold a referendum on joining Russia.

Seems odd to me for them to do that, geopolitics aside having broken from one state that they see as an oppressive ruler they seek to join another one. Ossetians aren’t ethically connected to Russians any more than they are to Georgians. In 2008 I remember them saying that they didn’t just want to give up their independence but I guess eventually geopolitics took over.

On topic, this is one of the plausible scenarios I could see that could lead to the conflict spreading beyond Ukraine, as Georgia is not likely to take the proposed annexation of what it sees as its territory lightly. In the 2008 war, Georgia was beaten by Russia in a matter of days and I doubt is much stronger militarily now than it was then. But with much of Russia’s forces bogged down in a gruelling war in Ukraine Georgia may feel it has as good a chance as it ever will to retake the territory. However I had read somewhere that Georgia currently has a pro-Russia administration which might not want to make such a move, although it might also decide this is where it draws the line.