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Bloodless Coup in Georgia? 11/22/03--Following Georgia.

 
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 10:55 pm
@Lash,
It's hard for me to believe that you are really familiar with the history of South Ossetia's relationship with both Russia and Georgia, for you to say that the analogy would be their 'fear of Russia rolling through their cities.' While I have not personally studied the situation in depth, there is every evidence that the Ossetians fear the Georgians (or hate) far more then the Russians...

What exactly do you think the global implications of this are? Please be as specific as you can, for I cannot really find myself swayed much by your nameless alarmism.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 01:21 am
@Cycloptichorn,
No one following the story could miss the history of SO's relationship with the USSR/Russia. I was attempting to respond to your statement here:

As for the Poland issue, if Russia attempted to put ABM facilities in Canada or Mexico, we would respond - more forcefully then they have.

You were discussing Poland, as analogous to Canada or Mexico... and the fact that our SO discussion netted Poland...and you may as well throw in, let's say, the other EE nations whose presidents recently took a platform with Saakashvili to claim solidarity in this war with Russia...you should be able to see the implications. We aren't just talking about SO. They know it. Why did all of those leaders take the stage with Saakashvili? Are they wrong, too? Why does Poland WANT defensive weapons? Alarmism?

nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 04:14 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
It's hard for me to believe that you are really familiar with the history of South Ossetia's relationship with both Russia and Georgia, for you to say that the analogy would be their 'fear of Russia rolling through their cities.' While I have not personally studied the situation in depth, there is every evidence that the Ossetians fear the Georgians (or hate) far more then the Russians...

Which would be fine even by me, if the Russian tanks had actually stopped at the borders of South-Ossetia. You realise they didnt, right? That they incursed far into Georgia proper, and are still occupying an important city (Gori) and strategic points breaking West and East Georgia proper in two?

And you can bet your life that the Georgians in Georgia proper "fear Russia rolling through their cities". They want them out; they've fought for it often enough. (And that's without mentioning the Georgian minority in South-Ossetia.)

It's completely naive to think that the Russian invasion is just about South-Ossetia, and not about subjugating, one way or another, Georgia's independent politics and effecting regime change there.

Did you read the article above about the many indications that Russia planned this invasion for months?

Meanwhile, the Russians are darkly hinting they might be in Georgia (proper) for a long time to come... and their comparison with US troops in Iraq has one thing right: the Russian invasion of Georgia has a lot in common with the American invasion of Iraq, long-standing planning and determination to go there one way or another included. Except that, whatever Saakashvili's faults (eg the violent clampdown against demonstrators last year), Georgia was still the most democratic country in the region, whereas Iraq was a brutal dictatorship.

All of which makes your position and sympathies on this issue quite ... weird, or at least inconsistent. I mean, other than that you just seem to stake out whatever is the opposite of the Republicans' position, no matter how much that means switching principles around.

Quote:
Russian lawmaker hints at long stay in Georgia

CNN
updated 5 minutes ago

Russia says it will begin pulling back its troops from Georgia on Monday, but a Russian lawmaker has compared the situation to the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev told French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday that Russia would start pulling back its forces from Georgia on Monday, Medvedev's office said. [..]


Russian troops would begin withdrawing to a buffer zone and into the breakaway province of South Ossetia as stipulated by the cease-fire, Medvedev's office said.

Moscow gave no indication of when the withdrawal would be completed.

Early Monday a Georgian Interior Ministry official said there had been "no signs" of a Russian troop withdrawal.

Lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, said Moscow would withdraw only when it was "assured that Georgians would not continue to use military force" in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian troops will leave "sooner or later," Kosachev said, saying the timetable depends "definitely on how Georgians will continue to behave."

"If I would ask you in response to the same question how fast the American forces can leave Iraq, for example, the answer would be as soon as we have guarantees for peace and security there," Kosachev said. "The same answer would be toward this situation."

The United States has been in Iraq since its 2003 invasion.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting Georgia, called on Russia to stick to its agreement to pull its forces out of Georgia within "the next few days." [..]

"President Medvedev agreed, but we cannot postpone and we cannot delay with these tasks," Merkel said in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. [..]

"It is up to Russia now to decide whether it will continue to defy the world ... or accomplish its final goal of regime change in Georgia," Saakashvili said Sunday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was skeptical that Russia would quickly withdraw its forces.

"My own view is that the Russians will probably stall and perhaps take more time than anybody would like," Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday. "I think we just need to keep the pressure and ensure that they abide by the agreement that they've signed, and do so in a timely way." [..]

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Sunday that it estimated the fighting has displaced more than 158,000 people, citing statistics from the Russian and Georgian governments.

Almost 99,000 of those displaced were in Georgia, while 30,000 were displaced in South Ossetia and 30,000 have fled to Russia, the UNHCR said.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 04:33 am
@nimh,
Cyclo wrote:
When I say Poland 'borders' Russia, I don't mean they literally border each other - merely that it falls within what is, yes, Russia's zone of influence.

How in heaven's name do you argue that? Poland is an EU member state. Poland is in NATO. It is most definitely not, to anyone's standard, in Russia's zone of influence.

Quote:
It's fine with me if you want to pretend that such things do not exist; they plainly do exist. The US has worked within it's sphere of influence, Russia has, Rome did, every major power has done the exact same thing throughout history; to pretend that these things no longer exist is foolish.

Yeah, murder and rape have also existed throughout history. The question you're dogging is whether the demand by a regional power to be allowed, with a wink and a nod, to do whatever it wants in its claimed "zone of influence", should just be accepted as a matter of life or resisted with what means are available.

The question you dogged, in short, was this one - and I would appreciate an answer:

nimh wrote:
Cyclo wrote:
Russia [is] dealing with countries in their sphere of influence in the same way as the US has done in the past.


And how is that OK? I mean, did you shrug at America's invasions, engineering of coups, funding of paramilitary groups etc in Latin America as merely rational and understandable - what, it being in America's "sphere of influence" and all?

If you disagreed (or disagree in hindsight) with America's actions in Latin-America, then how is it suddenly just understandable and OK if Russia does it in the "zone of influence" it is claiming?

What do you believe other countries should have done, back when the US was sponsoring coups in Latin-America, funding military rebellions, training dictators? Should European countries, for example, have just shrugged and reasoned, well, it is America's zone of influence? Or should they have opposed it? If third-party countries had any means to act against it or retaliate diplomatically, should they have done so?

If you believe they should have, how is it different now when the Russians are doing it?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 08:52 am
@nimh,
Aargh - I'm not making a moral defense of Russia, I'm merely pointing out that such actions are not indiciative of a threat to 'life as we know it' as Lash breathlessly asserted on the last page.

I understand that Russia has used this pretext for their own gain in the same way the US used Iraq. Both situations are bad; neither situation is bad enough to describe it as a true threat to world stability and the current order.

And I think that this is exactly the response that you saw during the US' meddling in Latin America - other countries opposed it, they said things about it (more later then at the time, as everything was not well known at first) - but at the end of the day, what was really done by anyone about it? Nothing. And I predict that is exactly what will happen in this case.

Do I believe that other countries should have gone to war with the US over our actions? That they should have cut off trade agreements? That's a difficult question to answer, as I understand arguments could be made either way. But it's plain to see that they didn't. And we will not now.

When I say 'zone of influence,' I refer to the fact that Poland, along with several other countries such as Belarus and the comparatively tiny Estonias and Latvias - these countries are independent of Russia but don't have the capability to stop them if Russia decided to make much of an issue of it. Poland is unlikely to come under attack, but if Russia decided to increase their hostilities - in the way that Lash and others on the right wing seem to believe this invasion is a precursor to - Poland would be basically on the front lines. To think that the Russians wouldn't oppose missile defenses placed by what was their long-standing arch enemy... it isn't an illogical position on their part, or an irrational one.

Do not mistake my lack of alarmism about the Georgian situation for sympathy for Russia; I merely point out that they are not acting in an irrational fashion, no matter what one's moral judgment of their actions. And yes, armies many times don't stop at the pre-arranged borders; that's one of the risks you take when you start a war and something the Georgians probably wish they had considered in further depth prior to their actions.

Cycloptichorn
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 09:16 am
The Russians are carrying out a kind of "scorched earth withdrawal" it seems, destroying anything that can be of military value to the Georgians along their way. In short, the war appears to still be continuing under the guise of "withdrawal".

Quote:
UPDATE 1-Georgia says Russian forces destroying munitions

TBILISI, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The Georgian Interior Ministry accused Russian forces on Monday of blowing up stores of Georgian ammunition and weaponry at a base near the western town of Senaki, ahead of a planned withdrawal from Georgia.

Spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Moscow's troops had also destroyed the runway at the base, which lies about 240 km (150 miles) west of the capital Tbilisi.

"They are destroying everything and then pulling out of these places," he said. "If they call this a pullout, then I do not understand the meaning of the word."

He said a column later left the base, heading northwards.

Russia announced on Monday it had started a military pull-back from areas of Georgia under a ceasefire brokered by France to end conflict over the Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.

A Reuters journalist in Senaki said he heard three loud explosions but was not allowed to enter the area. He said a Russian official had given advance warning that there would be controlled explosions.

Explosions were also heard in the Gori area of central Georgia, though there were no reports of fighting.

Russian forces have moved into many Georgian military bases, airfields and military warehouses in the course of the 10-day conflict, taking away and destroying equipment. There have also been attacks on many airfields. [..]


That is to say, if they are withdrawing at all. The Russians say they are; but according to the Georgians Russian troops are withdrawing from some places, but actually advancing to others.

Quote:
Georgia Says Russia Troops Advance, Disputes Planned Withdrawal

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Georgia said Russian troops are advancing, rejecting a statement from the Kremlin that they began withdrawing today.

``I can confirm right now is that as we speak, Russian forces are heading deeper into Georgian territory from the central city of Khashuri,'' Eka Zhguladze, Georgia's Deputy Interior Minister, said in a telephone interview.

Speaking after the Russian statement at about 2:15 p.m. Moscow time, she said that a Russian armored column was moving south to the city of Borjomi, and another was moving to the city of Sachkhere. Georgia is also suffering from unexplained forest fires, she added.

Russia has started withdrawing its troops from Georgia, a Defense Ministry official said, a day after President Dmitry Medvedev said the pullout would begin today.

Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of Russia's General Staff, was scheduled to provide more details at a press conference scheduled at about 3 p.m. in Moscow, the official said by telephone. [..]
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 09:49 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
And I think that this is exactly the response that you saw during the US' meddling in Latin America - other countries opposed it, they said things about it (more later then at the time, as everything was not well known at first) - but at the end of the day, what was really done by anyone about it? Nothing. And I predict that is exactly what will happen in this case.

But what would you have done? If you'd been a third-party government, or an international organisation? You probably wouldnt have gone to war (suicide against the US), but cutting trade agreements, yeah, or other economical or diplomatic sanctions, is that really a difficult question?

Because re Russia, your approach basically seems to be, let them have it - whether it's morally good or bad, it's only logical for them to want to control a zone of influence. Was that (or would that have been, we're young) your response to the US sponsoring coups, invasions, paramilitary groups? If not, whence the sudden acquiescence now it's Russia doing something similar?

It's just I've seen you ardently argue, when making the case that the US shouldnt have invaded Iraq, that there were good non-military alternative means of action. Even when conservatives derided the toothless UN, the paper tiger of resolutions and condemnations, the corrupted sanctions, you argued that well, they may not have been enough to topple Saddam or something, no. But they are useful and necessary, and there were plenty of ways in which we could have ratcheted up the pressure without straight-out invading it. Whereas now you suddenly seem to reason that, if we're not able to send our troops in, there's nothing we can do?

Yes, obviously Russia is not Iraq. But that sword cuts two ways. On the one hand it's much bigger and more powerful, so harder to pressure. But on the other it's much more invested in global relations, whether diplomatic, economical, geostrategical. It wants that fully-fledged seat at the WTO. It wants those international trade agreements. Etc. Iraq had nothing left to lose, so could flaunt whatever; Russia may be resurgent but cant quite say, f*ck all ya, and still achieve the international status and power it aspires to.

Plus, the US and EU may be overstretched right now, and I agree that this is Bush's fault. But it's not like we're suddenly back to parity with Russia like in the Cold War. There's plenty of ways to ratchet up the pressure in indirect military ways too. Fast-track negotiations for NATO expansion, for example. Russia is en route to a massive display of its military capacity to cow neighbouring countries (see article in next post); well, NATO is on the Black Sea too. It can do the same thing, if nothing else to signal to our allies in the former Soviet Union that hey - we're not just going to surrender you as soon as the Russians start sabre-rattling.
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 10:06 am
Meanwhile, the International Herald Tribune reports, the Russians are apparently moving launchers for SS-21 missiles into South Ossetia, from where the missiles could reach much of Georgia, including Tbilisi.

This adds to the impression that, rather than accept some kind of autonomy + peacekeepers arrangement for South-Ossetia, the Russians are intent on controlling the province directly, and using it as a springboard to intimidate Georgia into not stepping out of line in any way.


Quote:
Russia's grip on Georgia appears tight even as Moscow says withdrawal begins

Even as Russia pledged to begin withdrawing its forces from neighboring Georgia on Monday, American officials said the Russian military had been moving launchers for short-range ballistic missiles into South Ossetia, a step that appeared intended to tighten its hold on the breakaway territory.

The Russian military deployed several SS-21 missile launchers and supply vehicles to South Ossetia on Friday, according to American officials familiar with intelligence reports. From the new launching positions north of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, the missiles can reach much of Georgia, including Tbilisi, the capital. [..]

The SS-21 is a short-range ballistic missile carried on a mobile launcher. It can be used to attack command posts and airfield and troop concentrations. Russian forces used the missile in the Chechnya conflict, where it was believed to have caused significant civilian casualties.


N.B. Imagine that you could go along with the Russian argument that when it invaded, it was merely defending South-Ossetians against Georgian state violence the way the US intervened to defend Kosovars against Serbian violence. Even accepting that comparison, this would then be the equivalent of if NATO had stationed ballistic missiles in Pristina and aimed them at Belgrade.

The IHT also has more info on the withdrawal that doesnt actually seem to be happening:


Quote:
The Kremlin announced Sunday that Russia's president, Dmitri Medvedev, had promised to begin the troop withdrawal in a conversation with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who negotiated a six-point cease-fire agreement. Medvedev did not specify the pace or scope of the withdrawal, saying only that troops would withdraw to South Ossetia and a so-called security zone on its periphery.

In Moscow on Monday, a Russian military spokesman announced that Russian forces had in fact begun to pull out. But on the ground in Georgia, significant troop movement was not yet evident.

At the entrance to the central city of Gori on Monday afternoon, Russian soldiers sat on armed personnel carriers, smoking or napping in the heat of the afternoon.

Soldiers held the main bridge and the military base, and were running checkpoints on the roads. Convoys were shuttling to Tskhinvali. [..] "They are not moving," said Temuri Yakobashvili, Georgia's Reintegration Minister. [..]

"We're getting contradictory messages," said Alexander Lomaya, secretary for Georgia's National Security Council. "The generals aren't saying what they're going to do. The soldiers say they're waiting for orders."

On Sunday, the United States and European leaders reacted with wariness, and Russia's recent military moves appeared to add an element of frustration.

"Well, I just know that the Russian president said several days ago Russian military operations would stop. They didn't," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This time I hope he means it. You know the word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces." [..]

Despite the Kremlin's pledge of a pullout from Georgia, long lines of Russian military vehicles snaked south on Sunday along the main road from Tskhinvali to Gori in South Ossetia. Large transport trucks carrying power generators, troops, bags of potatoes, chairs and tables wound their way through the villages. A reporter driving south on the road passed lines of vehicles for nearly 40 minutes.


That's not all. This could all just be "fog of war", but there's much more going on, the IHT reports. The Russians appear to be making extensive preparations for further-going military action, or at least to make the impression that they are doing so.

Quote:
[In]stead of thinning out their forces in South Ossetia, the Russians appear to have been consolidating their presence there by deploying SS-21 missile launchers and, American officials say, by installing surface-to-air missiles near their military headquarters in Tskhinvali. [..]

Western officials have also been monitoring Russian troop movements, which may be intended to strengthen Russian forces in and around Georgia. A battalion from Russia's 76th Guards Airborne Division has been deployed from Pskov to Beslan, a city in North Ossetia. Several additional battalions from the 98th Guards Airborne Division at Kostroma also appeared to have been preparing over the weekend for possible deployment to the Caucasus region.

Beyond South Ossetia, the Russian military has taken other steps to raise its profile. In recent days, several Bear-H bombers have carried out training missions over the Black Sea, according to American officials familiar with intelligence reports. The Russian bombers are capable of carrying nonnuclear cruise missiles, and government intelligence analysts have told the Pentagon that a recent Bear training flight appeared to simulate a cruise-missile attack against Georgia.

The Russian moves are seen at the Pentagon as a way for Russia to show that it considers its sphere of influence to include Georgia and other parts of the so-called near abroad zones " Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucasus and the Caspian [..]. In general, the actions are seen as a matter of muscle flexing, or "force projection," in Pentagon parlance, and are not viewed as signs that Russia intends to make a major military push to take Tbilisi.

Russian officials may also be calculating that their nation's military presence may make some NATO members more skeptical toward accepting Georgia into the alliance. While the United States has strongly supported Georgia's membership, some allied officials fear they may be dragged into a war in the Caucasus if Georgia is admitted.


Is Russia just blustering, to scare the West off from intervening too agressively, and scare other countries in its "near abroad" into demureness? (It seems to already be working, with Turkey apparently refusing US ships passage through the Bosporus.)

Or is Russia seeing how far it can push the envelope, intent on pushing on to take Georgia the moment the West will look away enough, out of fear, fatigue or indifference?

Or are Putin and Medvedev actually planning a next military step, calmly and methodically like Putin has planned every step of his ascent to full control over Russia's domestic politics? The West has a track record of underestimating how far Putin wants to go.

Question is, will this intimidate Georgia (and the West!) into kicking any prospect of Georgian NATO membership into the long grass? Or will it, conversely, encourage appeals to fast-track it? I assume the former, I hope the latter.

Finally, a note on ethnic cleansing in South-Ossetia (how sad when the destruction of the lives of thousands is relegated to a couple of final paragraphs):


Quote:
While the Russians have accused Georgian forces of killing many civilians in South Ossetia, it has not been possible for outsiders to corroborate those claims. Nor has it been possible to corroborate Georgian assertions that South Ossetians were purging Georgian villages in "ethnic cleansing" reprisals, although refugees have described a campaign of violence and looting, and tours along the main road show villages with as many as 90 percent of the buildings burned.

The president of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, may have implicated himself in the forced expulsion of Georgians by asserting that they would not be allowed back. Russia's Foreign Ministry quickly sought on Sunday to minimize the significance of his remark, calling it "an emotional statement made under the influence of the situation resulting from the massive armed attack organized by the Georgian leadership against South Ossetia."

Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 10:20 am
@nimh,
Quote:
Whereas now you suddenly seem to reason that, if we're not able to send our troops in, there's nothing we can do?


I didn't say that there was nothing we could do; I said I doubt we will do much of anything.

As for your question about what the reaction should be against states that show aggression based on thin pretense, such as both the US and Russia have recently been guilty of? I don't know. It isn't an easy topic, one to which you can give a cut and dry answer. Countries have to weigh the benefits and cost to their people of acting, and ask themselves whether or not it is worth it to act.

If we respond forcefully to Russia, and they ratchet up to a much greater military response in response to our (economic, trade, cultural, military whatever) actions, then were those really the right actions? Were they the ones which led to the greater peace overall? It is difficult to say. I think that what you will see is a cautious period where the US and EU wait to see what Russia's next move will be.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 01:27 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Actually, Ross Douthat sums up my position re: isolationist claims, nicely:

Quote:
And it takes a strange view of global politics, to put it mildly, to accuse America - a power that's presently conducting massive counter-insurgency operations in not one but two strife-torn Muslim-majority countries, while patrolling the world's sea lanes, maintaining garrisons from Western Europe to the Pacific Rim, engaging in delicate counterproliferation efforts in the Middle East and Northeast Asia, and running secret anti-terror missions in God knows how many countries - of lapsing into 1920s-style "isolationism" because it's unwilling to simultaneously police every border dispute in the Caucuses.


http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/08/notsoisolationist_america.php

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Ramafuchs
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 18 Aug, 2008 01:42 pm
@Lash,
No one ever believed the Americans' explanation of why they wanted to base interceptor missiles in Poland, of all places, some 20 years after the fall of the Soviet empire " not even the Americans. The idea, said Washington, is to defend the Poles against the alleged threat of an attack from… Iran, which has yet to exhibit any hostile intentions toward Warsaw, and in fact does not even possess the sort of missiles the new system is designed to intercept.

Putin's pained response " "We are being told the anti-missile defense system is targeted against something that does not exist. Doesn't it seem funny to you, to say the least?" " showed signs of the sort of exasperation that reached a crescendo last week with the Russian counterstrike against Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia.

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13317
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 11:33 am
Russia is starting to bully Moldova now:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLP59197620080825?sp=true
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 11:53 am
Holy crap!! Thanks, oralloy. I started another thread, as it appears the problem is growing exponentially, as your post/link exemplifies. Post on either or both. Glad to have your input!


http://able2know.org/topic/121481-1
0 Replies
 
SerSo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 09:20 am
@nimh,
I have just returned from my trip to Germany and France and was unable to post here. Hope I can still contribute, but for lack of time I have to put it off at least till weekend.

For me the events look really tragic. Not only as tragic as any war, blood, death and grief but especially tragic because I could never think before that it was possible, a war between Russia and Georgia, two nations that are very close to each other in so many aspects despite all the disputes of recent years.

Just to present the Russian public attitude toward the events, here are some cartoons I found on a Russian web site. I find them depicting the immediate cause of the hostilities rather correctly. The cartoons may look funny, but there is no fun if you remember what it really involves.

http://static.oper.ru/data/gallery/l1048752873.jpg
The translation of Mr. Saakashvili's agenda:
3:00 - Attack
6:00 " Blitzkrieg
7:00 " Breakfast
12:00 " Victory
17:00 - Appeal for help

http://static.oper.ru/data/gallery/l1048752874.jpg

http://static.oper.ru/data/gallery/l1048752872.jpg
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 06:11 am
a little more from abkahzia

Just switched on the news at 3pm here to find Medvedev announcing
recognition! There is MAYHEM going on around us with gunfire and
explosions, all in celebration I hasten to add.
Well, we agree on our preference not to speak of genocide. I think you were not at the first of the 2 Chatham House meetings earlier this year when the Georgian visitor admitted to the mistake as regards Abkhazia in 1992 of "allowing ourselves to be provoked". Skirmishes have been going on for age saround the S. Ossetian frontier, and so, as various people have said, if you don't want to be provoked, don't be! That was Misha's error.
If you ever get a chance to see what weaponry was secreted in the K'odor
Valley, you would understand why no-one here blames Russia for destroying as much of what Tbilisi held as possible.
On the N. Caucasus, well, I don't know to what extent there were ever
likely to be requests for independence across the N. Caucasus, other than
Chechenia, where I have always felt that Yeltsin/Putin made a horrendous
mistake in 1994 and 1999. To what extent Chechenia will be stirred again
after all that has happened there remains to be seen. But for the moment
it's celebrations all the way here....

Yours, George


Dear George,

many thanks for this informative, and as usual convincingly argued,
piece. I agree with the thrust of your analysis and most of the
conclusions, although I take issue with a couple of points:

1) The attack by Georgia on Tskhinval was a monstrous error on
Saakashvili's part, but it was hardly unprovoked, which you argue by
stating that the town was "sleepy" and "unassuming". One only needs to
have followed development in recent weeks and months to know that
occasional skirmishes had developed into low-level warfare, and that this
was at the very least not entirely of the Georgians' doing. I doubt that
the residents of Tskhinval and surrounding villages were asleep in the
hours preceding the Georgian attack--they were probably being kept awake
by the sound of reciprocal shelling and shooting.

2) On Russia's role: although the initial repulsion of Georgian forces
from the provinces may have been justified (and here I include the
expulsion of Georgians from Upper Khodor), everything that they have done
since has gone far above and beyond what is justifiable, and adheres in
full to their long-held and unfortunate policy of limited sovereignty for
their near-abroad. Also, I have serious reason to doubt that the Russian
stance in the whole sorry chain of events was merely reactive. There are
clear indications that both Georgia and Russia had been spoiling and
preparing for a fight in the months since Kosovo and the Bucharest
summit, with military manoeuvres and exercises abounding on both sides of
the Caucasus. I also find Russia's request that Georgia be brought to
book for "genocide" in Ossetia (a claim that some third-party bodies such
as HRW have suggested is wildly inflated) rather farcical, considering
that it never allowed verification and appropriate punishment for whoever
was responsible for atrocities on a grand scale in Chechnya.

Also, in view of your convincing and passionate plea for independence for
Abkhazia (and South Ossetia), I was wondering what your view is on the
struggles for independence of their North Caucasian brethren in Chechnya,
Ingushetia and Dagestan--these would presumably be rekindled by
full-fledged Abkhaz independence?

Many thanks and regards
dadpad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 06:18 am
@dadpad,
Zaiera and a battle cruiser
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a40/dadpad/Family/Zairacruiser.jpg

Recognition celebrated on Hotel Yasemine in Sukhum

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a40/dadpad/Family/100_3173.jpg

Family celebration for recognition
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a40/dadpad/Family/100_3178.jpg
rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:02 am
@dadpad,
I wish these people luck keeping in mind that Russia isent a democracy and they have a history of takeing over small countries under the guise of protection.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 03:42 pm
Russia threatens to cut oil and gas.....

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/08/29/cnrussia129.xml
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  3  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 07:40 am

I saw a TV interview with Mr Putin last week in which he said that American personnel were with the Georgians when they attacked South Ossetia, prompting the Russian intervention.

Anyone else hear about that?
rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 09:36 am
@McTag,
I would bet that Mr Puten is doing what all "good" politicians do when they have done something unpopular. Blame someone else.
0 Replies
 
 

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