Much attention has been paid in recent years to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But Ukraine is not the only place where Russia has exploited ethnic conflicts and disputed territories along its borders.
In the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, 2,500 feet up, Russia is steadily building what it says is a new international border. It’s marked by a hodgepodge of barbed wire fences, large green signs, hastily dug trenches and well-manned checkpoints. Villages are divided by it and people are regularly thrown in jail for crossing it.
But according to most of the world, this border doesn’t exist, and neither does the land it defines — the Republic of South Ossetia.
The region had its own government, but no enforced border. That changed in 2008.