Analysis: Georgia's major miscalculation? - August, 2008

All is calm and cheery in Yerevan. The talk in town is about the war between Georgia and Russia and the sentiments are naturally pro-Russian, pro-Ossetian and pro-Abkhazian. There is no doubt here that Russia will win the war and finally get rid of Saakashvili, one way or another. As I have been saying, Russia 'must' do this right. Russia has been on the defensive for nearly twenty years. For several years now I have also been saying that the Kremlin needed to seriously flex its muscle, spill some blood if need be, to show the world that it is fully back in the geopolitical game as a lead player. This is their God given chance. They will not get a better opportunity than this. Moscow can't afford to screw this one up. Moscow has the legal and moral ground now to do as it wants in Georgia. Moscow must depose the Saakashvili's government at any cost. By crushing Georgia, Russia can solve most of the Caucasus region's problems.
Geopolitically, Russia has a green light to do as it pleases in Georgia because Moscow controls Europe's lifeline, around fifty percent of Europe's natural gas needs are provided by Russia. Thus, no one in Europe will risk directly opposing Moscow, especially for a pathetic bloodthirsty street whore like Saakashvili. Moreover, with the US economy severely strained and the military bogged down in the Middle East, all Washington can do at this point is sit back and watch the show. This is the ghost of Kosovo coming back to haunt the West. Nevertheless, listening to US and Western officials complain about "regime change", "invasion", "bloodshed" and "suffering civilians" in the light of their crimes across the world have become nothing but annoying and silly. Russia's diplomatic core, from the halls of the UN to the halls of the Kremlin, have been 'absolutely' outstanding.

Some Armenians have brought up the question of Javakhq, the Armenian populated region south of Tbilisi. Some think this is a good time to start a insurgency within Javakhq. I don't think we Armenians are ready for this action for the following several reasons:


1) Due to Armenia's bad economic and political health no serious effort has been taken to arm and/or organize the Armenian population in the Javakhq region.

2) We don't know what the final outcome of the current war between Russia and Georgia will be. Getting directly involved may make Armenia totally isolated in the region politically and economically.

3) Unlike in Nagorno Karabakh, Russia has never signaled that it would support Armenia's claims on Javakhq, let alone support our effort.

4) Armenia currently has serious domestic problems (Levon Ter Petrosian supporters/western pressure) and severe economic problems.

5) With Armenia endangering Georgia's south Turkey and Azerbaijan may get involved, thereby triggering a wider international conflict.

6) While the case for Ossetia and Abkhazia has been made for many years, out case for Javakhq has remained out of international discussions.
Thus, expecting an Armenian front in Javakhq would be grossly unrealistic/foolish at this point in time.

Breaking news: On the evening of August 12, 2008, I received information from an individual who's son is currently serving in the Martakert region of Nagorno Karabagh that sometime during the past couple of days, during the height of this war, Armenian troops carried out a successful military operation liberating a strategic hill in the Martakert region from Azeri control. According to this information, there were Azeri deaths and many thousands of hectars of land was liberated by Armenian forces. As of this date, this major military development has not yet been reported by any of the news outlets.
Arevordi

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Analysis: Georgia's major miscalculation?

(Russian troops seen near the village of Khurcha in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008, heading toward the border with Georgia. Russia warned Monday Aug 11, that its troops in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia will cross into the Georgian-controlled territory if Georgian troops in the area refuse to disarm. Georgian Security Council chief Alexander Lomaia said Gen. Sergei Chaban in charge of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia conveyed the demand Monday through U.N. military observers in the area.)

Russia Bombs Georgian Targets:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN8iRDYf5ew

August, 2008

There has been no doubt of Europe's priority in the conflict between Georgia and Russia: Bringing about a ceasefire on both sides and minimizing further bloodshed. Beyond that, nothing in this conflict is simple. European leaders feel a special responsibility for preventing further escalation and several of them have condemned a "disproportionate" use of force by Russia. The European Commission has called for an end to all Russian military activity on Georgian soil. But at the same time European diplomats accept that Mikheil Saakashvili initiated military action in seeking to reassert Georgian control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia, perhaps hoping that he could consolidate power there while the world was preoccupied with the Olympics.

At the time of the Rose Revolution in 2003, European lawmakers saw Saakashvili through similarly tinted spectacles, but nowadays they regard him as a somewhat headstrong figure who had already damaged his credentials as a democrat by the way in which he suppressed dissent in his country last November. Georgia may claim that South Ossetia's leaders are controlled by the Russia's FSB security service but Europeans sense Saakashvili gave Russia the excuse it was looking for to intervene, insisting that its own "peace-keepers" in South Ossetia were under threat and had to be protected. If Saakashvili thought that the Europeans in particular and the Western world in general would rally to his cause, he miscalculated. European diplomats have for a while been confessing a degree of "Georgia fatigue."

That was why several of the Europeans banded together at the NATO summit in Bucharest in March to frustrate U.S. President George W. Bush's demand that Georgia should be set on the first step there towards NATO membership. It is unlikely now that when NATO's foreign ministers meet in December to look again at the question of Georgia and Ukraine being invited to join NATO's Membership Action Program they will be handing out any gilt-edged cards. Saakashvili insists that the Russia action is "premeditated aggression." But European leaders do not echo his rhetoric when he goes on to claim that "If the whole world does not stop Russia today then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital."

Whatever the provocations, they do not thank him for turning the "frozen conflict" over South Ossetia and its other breakaway region Abkhazia into a real one. Most European leaders are in a phase of working to improve relations with Russia, not least because the EU countries are dependent on Russia now for nearly 40 percent of their energy supplies. They know that the Russian leadership has not taken kindly to their lectures on democracy and they are acutely aware of how irritated Russia was by most of the Europeans and the West backing the declaration of independence from Serbia declared by Kosovo. They also need to keep Russia on side in much bigger strategic questions like Iran's nuclear program. In diplomacy the "many-sidedness of truth" is often apparent.

Those sympathetic to Georgia can point out the hypocrisy of Russia brutally suppressing separatism in Chechnya while fostering it in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But others recall the parallels the Russians continually emphasized over Kosovo with the breakaway regions of the Georgian state that have enjoyed de facto independence since the early 1990s. Where the Europeans will draw the line is if Russia continues to violate the statehood and sovereignty of Georgia. We have already seen sharp exchanges at the UN between U.S. and Russian representatives, with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy, warning that "The days of overthrowing leaders by military means in Europe is over" and Europeans will certainly resist any Moscow-induced attempt to have the democratically elected Saakashvili removed by anything other than the actions of Georgian voters. What Saakashvili has perhaps neglected is the bitterness the current Russia leadership feels not only over Kosovo but over the development of the US missile defence scheme in Europe, with installations planned in Poland and the Czech Republic, and over the steady expansion to the east both of NATO and the European Union.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his protege Dmitry Medvedev still smart for the humiliations suffered by the former Soviet Union during the Boris Yeltsin years. They remain firm believers in a Russian sphere of influence in which NATO and others meddle at their peril. NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer may condemn Russia for a "disproportionate use of force," echoed by Russia's traditional critics within the EU like Poland and the Baltic states. But when it comes to anything more than supportive words, Georgia is likely to be disappointed by the European reaction. It is likely to look in vain to Brussels for practical or military help in regaining control of its separatist regions.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe...russia.oakley/


Strategic blunder led Georgia into S.Ossetia folly


Georgia made a strategic miscalculation in trying to rapidly overrun South Ossetia, and as a result has probably lost the region for good, regional analysts say. While Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway Georgian region helped provoke Georgia into action, it was the belief that its troops could secure a lightning victory that underpinned Georgia's decision to attack. "The Georgians rolled the dice and they lost," said Michael Denison, an expert in Russian and Eurasian affairs at Chatham House, a London-based security think tank. "It was not an unreasonable calculation to go for a rapid win, but in the end it was a miscalculation." Georgia, which has several restless regions within its territory, has managed to quell low-level insurgencies on its turf in recent years -- notably in the Kodori Gorge and the Adjara region -- without provoking Russian reaction.

It calculated that, with the recent change of leadership in Moscow and by timing the attack to coincide with the opening of the Olympics, it could secure a quick and relatively trouble-free victory. "The capital Tskhinvali is relatively small, no more than around 25,000 people, and they probably thought they could just take it and be done," said Denison. "They may have calculated that some people would leave the region and flee north to North Ossetia, but the rest would stay and the problem would basically be resolved." In hindsight, he said, the Georgians should have thought about blocking or blowing up the Roki Tunnel that links South Ossetia to Russia and gave Russian forces access to the region. But the Georgians needed to keep the tunnel open so that South Ossetians could escape north.

Denison and others note that South Ossetia's separatists had been provoking Georgia for some time, probably counting on Russia to come to their aid if needed. "The Russians have been provoking for a long time and I don't doubt that they stoked up the separatists to start attacking," said Bruce George, a British member of parliament with a long-term association with Georgia. "At the same time if you embark on a war, as the Georgians did, you have to work out what the consequences will be. It was inevitable that the Russians would react very heavily... and at this stage it seems uncertain that they will stop."

Denison, who was last in South Ossetia a few months ago, said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's assertion that it was now very unlikely South Ossetia would ever be integrated into Georgia had all but sealed the region's fate. "If the Russians hadn't intervened and Georgia had taken over, some South Ossetians would have fled, but most probably would have been okay, and South Ossetia probably would have been better off economically and culturally. "As it is, now they are looking at being a small outpost on the southern reaches of Russia."

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldN...34947020080811


Russian Troops Launch Ground Offensive in Georgia

Russia sent ground forces into Georgia proper for the first time since fighting began five days ago, seizing a military base and forcing the Georgian army to retreat toward the capital. Georgian officials accused Russia of seeking to overthrow the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili, while Russia said it was protecting the separatist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both countries gave contradictory accounts of fighting. Georgia says Russia is invading two cities while the Russians insist they're hitting only military targets. "We no longer know the limits of the invading Russian Army. Russia seems intent on overthrowing the democratically elected government of Georgia and occupying the country,'' said Kakha Lomaia, the Secretary of the National Security Council. The conflict is Russia's first major military offensive outside its borders since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. The war threatens to draw the U.S. into confrontation with Russia. The Bush administration backs Georgia's bid to join NATO which Russia views as a security threat. The West has courted Georgia as a counterweight to Russia's influence in the region, in part because it has an oil pipeline that bypasses Russia. Russian troops seized a military base in the town of Senaki, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Abkhazia, and ``invaded'' the city of Gori near South Ossetia, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said by phone. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said in comments on CNN that Russia has "to attack Georgian military targets'' to "protect the lives of Russian citizens.''

Senaki

About 30 armored personnel carriers and more then 20 trucks with Russian soldiers entered Senaki and took control of its military base, Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia said by phone. A Russian official said the move into Senaki, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Abkhazia, is aimed at preventing Georgian troops from massing. Ivanov said the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali was still being shelled by Georgian artillery near Gori. A Russian Defense Ministry official said "not a single Russian soldier'' is in the city. Most residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia hold Russian passports. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently holds the EU presidency, is to visit Russia tomorrow to try to negotiate a cease-fire.

Russia Achieves `Goals'

"Russia has achieved its goals. Georgia will not be able to reunite with its regions in the coming decades,'' Alexander Rahr, a Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. Russia may be seeking to incapacitate the U.S.-armed Georgian military and topple Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer who came to power in 2003 and has sought to bring his former Soviet nation into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said Masha Lipman, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center. "I think Russia has not brought in its troops for the first time projecting military force outside its borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to pull out quickly and return to the status quo,'' Lipman said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "I think that Russia has serious goals and Russia will not withdraw until its goals are fulfilled.'' Georgia and Russia have been fighting since Aug. 8 when Russia moved in troops and bombed targets after Georgian forces launched an offensive into South Ossetia, which split away from Georgia in an early 1990s war.

[...]

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...BHk&refer=home


Swarms of Russian jets bomb Georgian targets

Swarms of Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory today and Georgia faced the threat of a second front of fighting as Russia demanded that Georgia disarm troops near the breakaway province of Abkhazia. While a senior Russian general insisted that Russia has no plans to press further into Georgian territory -- its troops are now in two breakaway provinces -- the order to disarm carried the threat that Russian-sponsored fighting would spread. The new air forays into Georgia -- even as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on signed a cease-fire pledge -- appeared to show Russian determination to subdue the small, U.S.-backed country, which has been pressing for NATO membership. Russia fended off a wave of international calls to observe Georgia's pleas for a truce, saying it must first be assured of Georgia's retreat from South Ossetia. The United States is campaigning to get Russia to halt its retaliation and American officials have accused Russia of using the fighting to try to overthrow the Georgian government. President Bush, who has encouraged Georgia's efforts to join NATO, said he spoke with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Russian president.

"I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia," Bush said in an interview with NBC Sports. In turn, Putin criticized the United States for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday at Georgia's request. "It's a pity that some of our partners instead of helping are in fact trying to get in the way," Putin said at a Cabinet meeting. "I mean among other things the United States airlifting Georgia's military contingent from Iraq effectively into the conflict zone." A two-front battlefield would be a major escalation in the conflict, which blew up Friday after a Georgian offensive to regain control of separatist South Ossetia. Most Georgian troops are near South Ossetia, in the center of the country along its northern border with Russia, which would make it difficult for Georgia to repel an offensive from Abkhazia, in the west along the Black Sea.

International envoys flew into the region late Sunday and the U.N. Security Council met for the fourth time in as many days to try to end the conflict before it spreads throughout the volatile Caucasus. In Tbilisi, Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge today proposed by the French and Finnish foreign ministers. The EU envoys plan to travel from Tbilisi to Moscow later tday to try to persuade Russia to accept it. Saakashvili had ordered the halt Sunday after overwhelming Russian firepower blasted his troops out of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, but Russian officials said they saw no cease-fire on the ground. In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia has completed "a large part of efforts to force Georgian authorities to peace in South Ossetia," a statement that suggests Moscow could accept the proposed cease-fire. Saakashvili, however, voiced concern that Russia's true goal was to undermine his pro-Western government. "It's all about the independence and democracy of Georgia," he said during a conference call. At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday, Russia's ambassador to the United Nationa, Vitaly Churkin, acknowledged there were occasions when elected leaders "become an obstacle."

Saakashvili said Russia has sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia -- with some troops getting within three miles of Gori, located just outside South Ossetia, before being repulsed Sunday. Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s. Both separatist provinces have close ties with Moscow, while Georgia has deeply angered Russia by wanting to join NATO. Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia overnight Friday with heavy shelling and air strikes that ravaged the city of Tskhinvali. The Russia response was swift and overpowering -- thousands of troops that shelled the Georgians until they fled Tskhinvali on Sunday, and air attacks across Georgia, some on facilities far from the site of the fighting.

The Georgian president said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems and targeting Tbilisi's civilian airport. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area only a half hour before the EU envoys arrived, he said. Another hit near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported. While not addressing reports of the incursion near Gori, Nogovitsyn, the Russian general, said Russia had no intention to move deeper into Georgia. "We aren't planning any offensive," he said. Saakashvili later drove to the outskirts of Gori, a town where scores of people were killed in an Russian attack Saturday. He was joining French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who had just completed a tour of the destroyed buildings. As the Georgian president spoke to reporters next to his SUV, a member of his security team shouted "cover him!" Saakashvili was torn away by bodyguards and pushed to the ground. They piled extra flak jackets on top of him. Fearing an air raid, onlookers fled, looking skyward and screaming. No jets were seen or heard.

Kouchner had left seconds before the panic. "This a misfortune, this is impossible to support," Kouchner said after touring Gori. "That's why we not only have to denounce this, but we have to work to stop the fight." Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people had been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled the city said hundreds were killed. Thousands of civilians have fled South Ossetia -- many seeking shelter in the neighboring Russian province of North Ossetia. "The Georgians burned all of our homes," said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors of the fighting. "The Georgians say it is their land. Where is our land, then?" Nogovitsyn said on Russian television today that Russia demanded Georgia disarm police in Zugdidi, a town just outside Abkhazia, but did not say what would happen if they do not.

Abkhazia's Russian-supported separatist government called out the army and reservists on Sunday and declared it would push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control. A Russian commander said 9,000 additional Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles had arrived in Abkhazia. Nogovitsyn also said Russian ships deployed to Georgia's Black Sea coast sank one of four Georgian patrol boats that came close Sunday -- a report rejected by Georgian Coast Guard chief David Golua. In New York, the U.N. Security Council met for the fourth time Sunday in four days to discuss the crisis. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Moscow of seeking "regime change" in Georgia and resisting attempts to make peace.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fg-os...213,full.story


Saakashvili Proposes a Ceasefire to Medvedev
Next Photo

Saakashvili Proposes a Ceasefire to Medvedev, He Says Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has proposed a ceasefire and negotiations to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Novosti-Gruzia reports. The Georgian president made that announcement as he visited the Tbilisi republican hospital, where 221 patients wounded in the hostilities are receiving treatment. It is reported that Saakashvili was accompanied there by the foreign minister of Lithuania. RIA Novosti reports that the Russian military has not received any peace proposals from Saakashvili, although he stated twice publicly on August 9 that he has made such proposals. ITAR-TASS reports that Georgian tanks are preparing to advance on Tskhinvali and Russian peacekeeping positions. Latest unconfirmed information indicates that several tanks have already broken through then defense line into the city. Georgian military maps have been discovered that indicate that Georgia was expecting to take Tskhinvali and half of the territory of South Ossetia in 24 hours, Russian television claims. The South Ossetian military claims that it has disabled three of the tanks. Saakashvili repeatedly proposed settling the conflict, until the Georgian military went into action. A delegation from the European Union is expected to arrive in Tbilisi Saturday evening. That delegation will include EU special representative to Georgia Peter Semneby, special representative to the South Caucasus Heikki Talvitie and a representative of France, which is currently chairing the EU.

Source: http://www.kommersant.com/p-13064/r_527/South_Ossetia/


Russian troops move into western Georgia


We will drive Georgians out of - Abkhazian president: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amVwGUw9amI

Russian armored vehicles rolled deep into western Georgia on Monday, quickly taking control of several towns and a military base and slicing open a damaging second front in Russia's battle with Georgia. Other Russian forces captured the key central city of Gori. Fighting also raged Monday around Tskhinvali, the capital of the separatist province of South Ossetia. Swarms of Russian planes launched new raids across Georgia, sending screaming civilians running for cover. The invasions of Gori and the towns of Senaki, Zugdidi and Kurga came despite a top Russian general's claim earlier Monday that Russia had no plans to enter Georgian territory. By taking Gori, which sits on Georgia's only east-west highway, Russia has the potential to effectively cut the country in half. Security Council head Alexander Lomaia said Monday that it was not immediately clear if Russian forces would try to advance on Tbilisi.

The two-front battlefield was a major escalation in the conflict that blew up late Thursday after a Georgian offensive to regain control of South Ossetia. Even as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge with EU mediators on Monday, Russia flexed its military muscle and appeared determined to subdue the small U.S. ally that has been pressing for NATO membership. On Monday afternoon, Russian troops invaded Georgia from the western separatist province of Abkhazia while most Georgian forces were in the central region around South Ossetia. Russian armored personnel carriers moved into Senaki, a town 30 kilometers (20 miles) inland from Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti, Lomaia said. Russian forces also moved into the Georgian town of Zugdidi and seized police stations, while their Abkhazian separatist allies took control of the nearby village of Kurga, Georgia's Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said.

Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s — and both have close ties with Moscow. Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia late Thursday with heavy shelling and air strikes that ravaged its provincial capital of Tskhinvali. The Russia response was swift and overpowering — thousands of troops that shelled the Georgians until they fled Tskhinvali on Sunday, and four days of bombing raids across Georgia. An AP reporter saw a small group of Georgian fighters open fire on a column of Russian and Ossetian military vehicles outside Tskhinvali, triggering a 30-minute battle. The Russians later said all the Georgians were killed.

Another AP reporter in the village of Tkviavi, 12 kilometers (7 1/2 miles) south of Tskhinvali inside Georgia, where a Russian Sukhoi bomber plane hit a house. The walls of neighboring buildings fell as screaming residents ran for cover. Eighteen people were wounded, six of them seriously. Georgian artillery fire was heard coming from fields about 200 meters (yards) away from the village, perhaps the bomber's target. Hundreds of Georgian troops headed north along the road toward Tskhinvali, pocked with tank regiments creeping up the highway into South Ossetia. Hundreds of soldiers were also traveling in trucks in the opposite direction, towing light artillery weapons. In the city of Gori, where artillery fire could be heard, Georgian soldiers warned local residents that Russian tanks were approaching and advised them to leave. Hundreds of terrified residents fled toward Tbilisi, the Georgian, using any means of transport they could find. Many stood along the roadside trying to flag down passing cars.

U.S. President George Bush and other Western leaders have sharply criticized Russia's military response as disproportionate and say Russia appears to want the Georgian governmentn overthrown. They have also complained that Russian warplanes — buzzing over Georgia since Friday — have bombed Georgian oil sites and factories far from the conflict zone. The world's seven largest economic powers urged Russia to accept an immediate cease-fire Monday and agree to international mediation. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations spoke by telephone and pledged their support for a negotiated solution to the conflict. Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traded sharp barbs Monday. "I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia," Bush told NBC Sports.

Putin criticized the United States for viewing Georgia as the victim, instead of the aggressor, and for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday. "Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages," Putin said in Moscow. "And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed ten Ossetian villages at once, who ran elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds — these leaders must be taken under protection." A Russian offical said at least eight U.S. transport planes delivered about 800 Georgian servicemen from Iraq. The Georgian president, Saakashvili, signed a cease-fire pledge Monday proposed by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb. The EU envoys were heading to Moscow to try to persuade Russia to accept the cease-fire.

Saakashvili, however, voiced concern that Russia's true goal was to undermine his pro-Western government, which has sharply angered Moscow by wanting to join NATO. "It's all about the independence and democracy of Georgia," he said during a conference call. Saakashvili said Russia has sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia — with some troops getting within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of Gori, located just outside South Ossetia, before being repulsed Sunday. The Georgian president said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems and targeting Tbilisi's civilian airport. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area only a half hour before the EU envoys arrived, he said. Another hit near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported. Abkhazia's separatists called out the army and reservists on Sunday and declared it would push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control.

Before invading on Monday, Russia's deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Georgia must disarm its police in Zugdidi, a town just outside Abkhazia, but insisted "We are not planning any offensive." At least 9,000 Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles were in Abkhazia. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people had been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled Tskhinvali said hundreds were killed. Many refugees sought shelter in the neighboring Russian province of North Ossetia. "The Georgians burned all of our homes," said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors. "The Georgians say it is their land. Where is our land, then?"

Source: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h...daZ4QD92G7G1G0


Georgia: Russians close off strategic Georgian port

Just five months ago, Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili was touting a $70million deal which he hoped would transform the Black Sea port of Poti, creating 20,000 jobs over the next five years. Under the deal Arab investors were set to plough $200million into developing a new port alongside the existing commercial port, trebling Poti's capacity to 25 million tonnes of cargo a year. Now those plans could lie in ruins as the port has been cut off by advancing Russian troops. The 51,000 inhabitants of Poti will not remember the port's 150th anniversary with any affection. Russia's over-running of Senaki, a town 25 miles inland from Poti, has effectively shut down the country's biggest commercial port. The move will, officials say, starve the country of more than half of its imports of key products like wheat, grain, tinned food and cars. Giorgi Badrdidze, the acting head of mission at the Georgian Embassy in London, said: "Poti is a vital lifeline for Georgia and Tbilisi because it offers a direct connection to western countries. "This is a major, strategically important economic target. It imports a huge part of the Caucuses' agricultural products."

Independent experts said that the blockade of Poti would be felt across the regions as products shipped through the Black Sea port feed neighbouring countries Armenia and Azerbaijan. John Roberts, from energy consultants Platts who has written a report on the port Poti, said: "Poti is very important as a commerical port, with an important ferry service to Romania. It is Georgia's window on the world." Mr Roberts said the cutting off of Poti would particularly hit the oil industry in neighbouring Azerbaijan, which relies heavily on drilling equipment shipped through the port. He said: "Poti is one of Azerbaijan's lungs." Much of the freight which would have come through the port will have to be diverted through Georgia's other main port to the south, Batumi, or come via road or rail through Armenia.

Mr Roberts said that while Georgia was more self-sufficient than its neighbours for basic food stuffs "all the luxuries will go in short supply". Energy shares were yesterday buoyed by worries over oil supplies, with gas producer Gazprom surging 6pc and oil producer Lukoil rising 4pc. In early trading, the MICEX fell as much as 6pc to its lowest level since September 2006 and the RTS fell around 5pc to its lowest level since November 2006. "Given Russia's overwhelming military advantage, we would expect any potential combat to be short-lived, with the two sides back at the negotiation table in a matter of days or weeks," Dresdner Kleinwort analysts said in a research note.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...gian-port.html


Abkhazia says Georgian troops pushed out of upper Kodori Gorge

Abkhazia's operation to force Georgian troops from the upper part of the Kodori Gorge has been completed, the Abkhaz deputy defense minister said on Tuesday. "The armed forces of Abkhazia have reached the border with Georgia in the Kodori Gorge," General Anatoly Zaitsev said. Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia started early Tuesday a full-scale onslaught to force Georgia's troops from the northern part of the gorge, the only part of the province still controlled by Georgia. The move came a day after Abkhazia issued an ultimatum to Georgia to leave the strategic region, three days after Tbilisi began a ground and air offensive in its other separatist republic, South Ossetia. Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told a Security Council session in Sukhumi the operation in the Kodori Gorge, located in the breakaway republic and which Georgia occupied in 2006 in violation of a 1994 ceasefire agreement, would continue until the "jurisdiction" of Abkhazia was restored. Georgia now faces the prospect of permanently losing all control over both its breakaway regions, following its costly attempt at seizing South Ossetia. Russia, which supports both regions and has given Russian citizenship to most of their residents, retaliated to the Georgian offensive by sending in hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops, and striking military targets across Georgia. Around 1,600 people in South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, were killed by Georgian forces, according to Russia, and at least 34,000 locals fled north across the Russian border. Abkhazia, which has an agreement with South Ossetia on military assistance in the event of armed conflicts, imposed martial law on Sunday in the areas bordering Georgia, and announced partial mobilization. Russia has committed more than 9,000 paratroopers and 350 armored vehicles to Abkhazia in an attempt to prevent the South Ossetian conflict spreading, and to guard against a potential Georgian attack on Abkhazia.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20080812/115993002.html


Russia says Georgian troops in S.Ossetia surrendering
Georgian troops have been surrounded in South Ossetia and are giving themselves up, a senior Russian military official said on Monday. "Russian troops are currently disarming the surrounded Georgian forces in South Ossetia," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nagovitsyn, deputy head of the General Staff, told a news conference. Russian troops are currently forcing all Georgian troops out of Georgian-populated villages in the east and west of the breakaway region, he said. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier on Monday that the operation declared on Saturday to "force Georgia to accept peace" was almost complete. Russia drove Georgian troops out of the devastated capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, on Sunday, two days after Tbilisi launched a major ground and air offensive to regain control of the pro-Russian region. Shelling and bombing attacks continued on Monday morning. Russia, which has maintained peacekeepers in the region since conflicts in the early 1990s, said over 2,000 civilians have been killed by Georgian forces. Moscow has also highlighted a humanitarian catastrophe in the region. Georgia says it has lost 150 people in the conflict, and that hundreds of Georgians are injured. Nagovitsyn said 18 Russian troops have been killed and 52 wounded. He warned that in the Black Sea near Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia, Russian forces will attack all Georgian ships and aircraft entering the security zone to deter a Georgian attack on Abkhazia. Earlier reports said Russia had sent more than 9,000 troops and 350 armored vehicles into Abkhazia. On Saturday Russia sent vessels to patrol the area near Abkhazia, where martial law has been declared. On Sunday, Russian defense officials said one Georgian missile boat was destroyed after it attacked Russian ships. Nagoviotsyn also said two more Russian military aircraft have been downed in the conflict zone in the past 24 hours, bringing the Air Force's overall losses to four aircraft. He said Russia has gained full control over Georgian airspace, and is preventing all flights by Georgian combat aircraft. "We have eliminated the possibility of an aerial threat from Georgia in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone," Nogovitsyn said. He denied Georgian claims that Russian warplanes have targeted Georgian oil pipelines in bombing raids, in particular the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, which pumps crude from the Caspian to Europe. "We did not bomb Georgia's oil pipelines. If we had done this, oil spills and possible oil fires could have led to a regional environmental disaster," Nogovitsyn said. The general also denied reports that Russia had dropped bombs on Tbilisi's international airport or any other civilian targets, but admitted to an attack on a radar facility. The United States and other Western nations have criticized Russia for what they have called a 'disproportionate' response to Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, and are urging both Russia and Georgia to stop armed hostilities. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who seeks NATO membership for the South Caucasus country, has pledged to bring the two pro-Russian separatists republics under central control. Most people in both republics have Russian passports.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080811/115955654.html


US military surprised by speed, timing of Russia military action

It's America's fault - US citizen in the conflict zone:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRl3qArJO-o

The US military was surprised by the timing and swiftness of the Russian military's move into South Ossetia and is still trying to sort out what happened, a US defense official said Monday. Russian forces surged into the breakaway region last week after weeks of clashes, threats and warnings between Tblisi and Moscow which culminated August 6 in a two-day Georgian offensive into South Ossetia. That the two countries were on a collision course was no surprise to anyone, but the devastating Russian response was not expected, officials said. "We were tracking it earlier in that week and we knew that things were escalating," said a military official, who asked not to be identified. "I can tell you it moved quicker than we anticipated that first day." But how it unfolded is still unclear, clouded by conflicting claims from both sides. "I think a lot of what you're asking needs to be ironed out," said the official. "Some of these little issues are definitely still big questions in this event -- What was the intent? Who started it? Why did they start it? And why weren't they prepared to defend what they started?"

President George W. Bush, who urged Moscow to cease fire and return to pre-August 6 positions, charged in a televised statement that Russia's intention appeared to be depose Georgia's democratically elected president. But the extent of the Russian operation remained unclear to US officials on Monday. Georgian officials said Russian troops had moved out of South Ossetia into Georgia proper, occupying the city of Gori while Georgian troops were retreating to the capital. But US defense officials said they were unable to corroborate the Georgian claims. "We don't see anything that supports they are in Gori," said a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I don't know why the Georgians are saying that." "That assessment is ongoing," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. The United States has among the most powerful tools for monitoring brewing conflicts, from spy satellites to reconnaissance aircraft and drones capable of scooping up radio signals or capture real-time images of forces on the ground. But the extent to which they were trained on this remote conflict before it turned violent is not known.

The Russians, however, warned on August 3 of a growing threat of "large scale military conflict" between Georgia and South Ossetia. The State Department issued a mild statement on August 5 urging Moscow to refrain from provocative actions, but gave no hint that it was aware that military action either by Georgia or Russia was in the offing. Officials have suggested the fighting was not seen as an immediate threat, in part because there were only about 95 US troops and 35 civilian contractors in the country training Georgian troops for Iraq. And they were not near South Ossetia. Some 1,650 US troops conducted a joint exercise with the Georgian military in mid-July. But they were out of the country when the hostilities flared. At around the same time, the Russian military deployed 8,000 troops to the North Caucases for counter-terrorism exercises that Moscow said were unrelated to the tensions with its southern neighbor.

The US defense official said about 8,000 to 10,000 Russian troops have moved into South Ossetia. They also have flown SU-25, SU-24, SU-27 and TU-22 fighters and bombers during the campaign. But the official said there was no obvious buildup of Russian forces along the border that signaled an intention to invade. "Once it did happen they were able to get the forces quickly and it was just a matter of taking the roads in. So it's not as though they were building up forces on the border, waiting," the official said. "What are their future intentions, I don't know. Obviously they could throw more troops at this if they wanted to," he said.

Source: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5...2MyszBj6k_ZMtw


Russia Ends Offensive Against `Aggressor' Georgia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev halted five days of military action in Georgia, Russia's first foreign offensive since the Cold War ended in 1991, defusing a dispute that threatened to draw in the West. "The aggressor has been punished,'' Medvedev said today. Russia has secured the safety of its peacekeepers and citizens in the disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Medvedev said on state television. Russia sent tanks, troops and warplanes into Georgia on Aug. 8 in what it said was a response to a Georgian offensive on South Ossetia, which won de facto independence from Georgia after a war in the early 1990s. Russian forces crossed into Georgia's heartland for the first time yesterday and took several towns and a military base, drawing criticism from President George W. Bush. More than 2,000 people were killed in the fighting, according to Russian estimates. The United Nations Refugee Agency said almost 100,000 people have fled the conflict. The military thrust threatened to drag the U.S. into confrontation with its former Cold War foe. Bush backs Georgia's bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Russia views as a security threat. The West sees Georgia as a key ally in the region, in part because it has a pipeline that carries Caspian Sea crude oil to Western markets and bypasses Russia. "Russia has come out looking like a victor,'' said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst from the Moscow Carnegie Center. ``If it had continued, the war wouldn't have been popular in Russia, not to speak of the negative reaction in the West.''

Fighter Jet Strikes

As Russian troops kept control of territory inside Georgia, Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zhguladze said two districts near the central city of Gori were under attack by Russian fighter jets as of 3 p.m. local time. While Russia has stopped offensive operations, sporadic strikes are continuing, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy head of Russia's General Staff, said earlier. Medvedev ordered Russian forces to destroy any "pockets of resistance.'' The ruble surged the most in seven years, Russia's Micex Index climbed, and the cost of protecting the country's bonds fell after Medvedev halted the Georgian military operation. The 30-stock Micex erased a decline of as much as 2 percent and oil extended its drop after Medvedev said military action in Georgia had achieved the country's goals. Bush criticized Russia yesterday for pushing into central Georgia. "I am deeply concerned by reports that Russian troops have moved beyond the zone of conflict,'' Bush said. ``It now appears that an effort may be under way to depose Georgia's duly elected government.''

Sarkozy in Moscow

Georgia welcomed Medvedev's decision, which came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, arrived in Moscow to seek a cease- fire agreement. "It's great, if that's what they said,'' Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said by phone in Tbilisi. "I just hope that it's because they realize just how badly their name and reputation were damaged in the eyes of the world by doing what they've done.'' In an indication that Russia intends to impose tough terms on Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a de-militarized zone on the Georgian side of the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Abkhazia also broke away from central Georgian control in the early 1990s. This followed the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 that brought an end to its political, economic and military opposition to the West. Sarkozy told Medvedev at the start of their Kremlin talks that it was important to implement the cease-fire and that Russia now must withdraw its troops from Georgia to their positions prior to the conflict. Russia must be a "force for peace,'' Sarkozy said.

Withdraw Forces

Russia says that Georgia must sign a legally binding non- aggression pact with South Ossetia, a self-proclaimed republic of 70,000 people, most with Russian passports. Georgia must also withdraw its forces from military bases it used to stage its attack on the disputed region, which is about half the size of Kosovo, Lavrov said. Georgian peacekeepers would not be allowed to return to South Ossetia. The Russian minister also said that U.S.-backed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili should step down. Russia refuses to negotiate with Saakashvili because it has "no trust'' in him and because he's a "criminal,'' Lavrov said. "It will be best if he left.'' Saakashvili, a 40-year-old U.S.-educated lawyer who came to power in 2003, forged an alliance with the U.S. and pursued a goal of joining NATO, ignoring Russian warnings. In April, NATO leaders promised Georgia and fellow former Soviet republic Ukraine eventual membership, while declining to offer them fast- track status.

Russia's Upper Hand

In a sign of Russia's upper hand, Russian forces are continuing reconnaissance activities in Georgia and disarming Georgian police in the town of Zugdidi, just across the border from Abkhazia, Nogovitsyn told reporters in Moscow. The Russian military still controls the Georgian air base of Senaki, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Abkhazia, he said. Russian warplanes attacked a section of BP Plc's Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia today, said Kakha Lomaia, head of Georgia's National Security Council. BP said it was unaware of any bomb damage and the Russian Defense Ministry denied the claim. Medvedev has defended Russia's campaign as an obligatory response to what it terms the "genocide'' waged by Georgia in South Ossetia. Most of the dead were civilians killed by Georgian military action, according to Russia. Saakashvili accused Russia of carrying out a "well-planned'' invasion and pleaded for Western help throughout the conflict.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...4dw&refer=home

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