Beaten Georgia Feels Humiliated By Russia - August, 2008

After the bloody beating Georgia got at the hands of Russia Turks/Azeris will be even more afraid of stepping out of line in the Caucasus. However, I am glad Armenia stayed out of this mess. Realizing that Russian intentions in Georgia was merely to destroy Tbilisi's war making capability and punish Saakashvili's government and not to annex the country, official Yerevan could not risk totally ruining its already stressed relations with the Georgian government. Let's not forget that the vast majority of imported goods and supplies, including food, natural gas and benzine, gets to Armenia via Georgia.

Although I'm upset that the war ended a bit fast, I was, nevertheless, very impressed by Russia's war making capabilities - both on the battlefield and within the halls of government. This was nothing less than a massive victory for the Russian Federation and its regional allies. This was also one of the rare instances in recent history where Moscow actually enjoyed the moral high ground and executed the war virtually flawlessly. What Moscow accomplished with its limited military resources in the region (between 10-15 thousand soldiers) and within a few short days was simply put - outstanding. We need to take into consideration that South Ossetia is a rugged and forested territory that favors the defender, in this case the invading Georgian force. Georgian forces, trained, armed and funded by the West, Turkey and Israel had also been preparing for this invasion for several years. Nevertheless, within two short days the Russian military thoroughly routed the Georgian invasion force, a force that was armed with modern multiple rocket launchers, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank rockets and heavy armor. Without any real trouble Moscow also managed to take the war deep into Georgian territory threatening Tbilisi and was able to bring Saakashvili's government to its knees within three/four days.

And, as predicted, NO ONE was able to do anything for Tbilisi.


Which leaves one wondering, what was Saakashvili thinking when he gave the order to invade South Ossetia? Could this be a case of treason, insanity or a classic case of miscalculations rooted in blind/extreme nationalism... In my opinion, it was a combination of all three: Georgians were blinded by their extreme nationalism and hate and allowed themselves to be fooled into believing that the West would help them in time of real need. As a result, Saakashvili's government was found to be utterly incompetent and in a sense treasonous because their actions led to the destruction of their nation. Through all this, Armenia currently enjoys the highest standing within the region.

Nonetheless, this was the blood letting that Moscow needed to carry out in order to show the world that beyond its harsh political rhetoric, increasing wealth and flashy military parades it is fully capable and ready to execute major military operations flawlessly using minimal resources.


Georgia Says Russian Troops Still Fighting Despite Accord

August, 2008

Georgia on Wednesday accused Russia of attacking and occupying the central Georgian city of Gori, in flagrant defiance of an agreement struck only hours earlier to end the war that flared up last week. There were unconfirmed reports that a column of Russian tanks had left Gori and was on the road toward Tblisi, the Russian capital. “As I speak, Russian tanks are attacking the town of Gori,” Mr. Saakashvili said. His protests were joined by the leaders of several former Soviet countries from Eastern European, who were in Tblisi to show their support for Georgia. Valdas Adankas, the Lithuanian president, said: “Let the world finally wake up and take action, and provide security for the region. We are creating a situation that could get out of hand.” The Russian attacks on Gori could not be independently confirmed and Russia denied that its tanks were in Gori. The confusion underscored the fragility of the agreement, which Russian and Georgian leaders, still seething at one another, signed under pressure from Western countries eager to prevent the escalation of the conflict in the volatile Caucasus region.

Outside of Gori, black smoke could be seen rising from the city from the direction of a Georgian military base. Inside the city, there was the sound of small arms fire and two tank rounds were fired, but the firing later died down. Russian troops had apparently taken up new positions on the outskirts of Gori. They said they were stationed there to protect the population from irregular fighters who were reported to be stealing cars in the area. Two Russian tanks blocked the entrance to the town on the road from Tblisi. About 20 soldiers stood nearby, holding Kalashnikov rifles and smoking. Their commander, who gave only his first and middle names, Mikhail Petrovich, said the troops were securing the area against harassment from both sides in the conflict. He said there was sporadic shooting fired by locals and from thieves, including “non-local Ossetians,” an apparent reference to pro-Russian irregulars. White smoke rose from behind a nearby hilltop and some gunfire could be heard. Mr. Saakashvili and Mr. Medvedev agreed early Wednesday morning on a framework that could end the war, after five days of fighting.

Declaring that “the aggressor has been punished,” Mr. Medvedev had announced early Tuesday that Russia would stop its campaign, although Russian airstrikes had continued during the day as mediators tried to broker the agreement. By 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Saakashvili had agreed on a plan that would withdraw troops to the positions they had occupied before the fighting broke out. But the situation on the ground remained complicated on Wednesday. In western Georgia, in the town of Senaki, about five Russian personnel carriers and a tank were parked inside a military base, from which they had previously withdrawn. Residents and a police official said Russian troops had looted refrigerators and food. One Russian tank had crashed, apparently accidentally, through a fence and was sitting in the front yard of a house as soldiers fixed it. Whether the agreement takes holds, Russia has achieved its goals, effectively creating a new reality on the ground, humiliating the Georgian military and increasing the pressure on a longtime antagonist, Mr. Saakashvili.

Russian authorities make no secret of their desire to see Mr. Saakashvili prosecuted on war crimes in The Hague, and could well try other measures to undermine him. Mr. Medvedev also authorized Russian soldiers to fire on “hotbeds of resistance and other aggressive actions.” As the conflict cools and hardens, the two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, could wind up permanently annexed by Russia. But in signing on to an accord, Russia appears to have stopped short of a full-scale invasion that would have set off a broader cold-war-style confrontation with the West. Its actions have already aroused widespread alarm about Russia’s redrawing of the geopolitical map, and some fear that they could undermine democratic gains in a region that was once part of the Soviet sphere. But Mr. Saakashvili’s military attack on the South Ossetians, which set off the crisis last Thursday, has also drawn criticism as needlessly provocative. “The tanks should go. I hope they will,” Mr. Saakashvili said on Tuesday, as he emerged from a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who carried the document from Moscow to Tbilisi.

“There was a degree of constructive ambiguity” in the document that allowed the announcement to be made, said a senior European diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Western negotiators, who had shuttled between the Georgian and Russian governments for days, said they were optimistic that the crisis was under control. “Traditionally, we will see a few skirmishes, but frontal attacks and positioning will end,” said Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb of Finland, the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Bush administration is expected to cancel a scheduled naval exercise with Russia and to press NATO to prohibit a Russian warship from joining a separate alliance exercise. A cancellation would be the first concrete reprisal against Russia for its military actions in Georgia. As the news of an impending cease-fire filtered across Georgia on Tuesday, citizens reacted with relief and defiance. At a rally in Tbilisi, a euphoric crowd waved signs that read “Stop Russia,” and Mr. Saakashvili announced Georgia’s withdrawal from the “Russia dominated” Commonwealth of Independent States. “I saw Russian planes bombing our villages and killing our soldiers, but I could not do anything, and this will always be with me,” he said. “I promise that I will make them regret this.”

The presidents of five former Soviet satellite states and republics — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Poland — flew into Tbilisi and appeared beside Mr. Saakashvili in a show of solidarity. “I am a Georgian,” said Toomas Hendrick Ilves, the president of Estonia. In Gori, citizens ventured out of their hiding places and began to sweep up glass and debris. Cars began to move on the streets of the city. Izmar Chivolidze sat on a curb that was stained with blood and strewn with broken glass. “Putin did this,” he said, speaking of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “Putin created this circus.” Other areas of the country remained on a war footing. In the port of Poti, bombing was heard an hour after Mr. Medvedev’s statement early Tuesday morning. Under attack by Abkhaz and Russian forces, Georgia later withdrew its remaining soldiers from the Kodori Gorge after four days of attacks, said Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for Georgia’s Interior Ministry. He said 22 civilians had been killed after Mr. Medvedev said the campaign would end. “Russia has said it has ended its invasion, but in reality, it has not,” Mr. Utiashvili said. “We should all prepare for the worst.”

The long-running dispute between Russia and Georgia boiled over on Thursday, after Mr. Saakashvili ordered Georgian forces to move into South Ossetia, a breakaway region with strong ties to Russia. Russian authorities say 2,000 people were killed in fighting around Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, and more than 30,000 refugees fled over the Russian border. These numbers could not be confirmed independently, and some analysts believe that Russia is citing them to bolster its war crimes allegations against Mr. Saakashvili. During talks throughout the day between Mr. Saakashvili and Mr. Sarkozy, the French leader had to call Mr. Medvedev twice to clarify points that had concerned the Georgian president. Mr. Saakashvili insisted that Russian peacekeepers remaining in the disputed territories be the same ones previously stationed there, and not crack troops swapped in anticipation of fighting. He also insisted that there be no discussion of the breakaway regions’ seceding from Georgia. Once Russian and Georgian forces pull back, international mediators will have to confront a flurry of problems. Will Russian and Georgian troops withdraw to their positions of last Thursday, before the latest fighting broke out, or to their positions in 1991, when the dispute over Georgia’s enclaves began?

Who will enforce a cease-fire — the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which currently monitors South Ossetia; the United Nations, which monitors Abkhazia; or some other organization, like the European Union? France is seeking support from its European Union partners for the deployment of European peacekeeping monitors, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Diplomats have tried to keep the parties to the conflict focused on short-term practical steps — first, a cease-fire, second, allowing humanitarian aid into the war zone, and third, withdrawing troops. Only then, said Mr. Stubb, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, would Russian and Georgian officials begin a peace effort to address the actual causes of the conflict. Sergei Markov, of Moscow’s Institute for Political Studies, said Western pressure had some effect, but Kremlin strategists became worried about doing permanent damage to Moscow’s already troubled relationship with Georgia. “Our relationship with Georgia is more important, so that Russia will have influence over the whole south Caucasus, just as it has for centuries,” he said.

The cease-fire negotiations coincided with bombing and artillery barrages that landed mostly on the outskirts of the city of Gori, and in villages in a plain to the north. Five people, including a Dutch journalist, were killed when a missile landed on Stalin Square. As Mr. Medvedev was making his announcement early Tuesday that the military campaign would be halted, Russian troops were spotted farther inside Georgia on the western front, south of Abkhazia. The troops drove through the port city of Poti, digging into positions on the city’s outskirts. There were reports that Russian troops were engaged in similar activities in the western Georgian towns of Zugdidi and Kareli, an American official said. A dozen armored vehicles guarded a bridge connecting Poti to Batumi, another Black Sea port. The troops, who spoke Russian and wore patches indicating they were paratroopers, said they were peacekeepers. A Georgian police official, who would not give his name because he was not authorized to speak, appeared downcast. He said he had had no contact with the Russians. “We have no orders to talk to them,” he said. “They came here themselves.”


Beaten Georgia Feels Humiliated By Russia

(A soldier gestures from a tank beside his comrade as part of a Russian military convoy travelling on its way on a main road leading to the Georgian city of Zugdidi, which is about 350 km away from Georgia's capital Tbilisi, August 13, 2008. Georgia accused Russia on Wednesday of sending tanks from South Ossetia into the Georgian town of Gori but Russia issued a swift denial and an eyewitness said the town was empty.)

OUTSKIRTS OF GORI, Georgia — - The Russian bombs and shells were falling fast Tuesday afternoon, dropping unseen through mist that clung to the mountains and wisped over the valleys. Panicked refugees pressed the gas pedal to the floor and roared toward the capital city of Tbilisi, trying to outrun the explosions. Russian helicopters hung low over the foothills. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had already said that the "operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace" was finished. But here in Georgia, the war dragged on. "They want to destroy us," groaned Aftondil Huroshvili, who begged for a drink of water in a crowded hospital ward in Tbilisi. The retired topographer was strolling through Gori's central square when Russia bombed the post office. Shrapnel from the blast shattered his lower leg. The Conflict By The Numbers "They want to invade and take everything," he said, rolling his balding head back and forth in pain. "Why are they doing this?" As a battered country waited Tuesday to see whether a cease-fire would finally come to fruition, it was clear that Russia had already made its point. It took just five days of war to deal a shattering blow to Georgia's collective psyche. People who had started to divorce themselves from the ominous, Soviet-era sense of threat from their massive northern neighbor, who had started to dream of NATO membership and Western-style democracy, have just learned a hard lesson in their own vulnerability.

"We are like an example for the others, that Russia can do the same to anybody," said Nikoloz Kvachatze, a young doctor in Tbilisi's Republic Hospital. "They must be stopped. They won't stop by themselves. They'll start with Georgia, and then it will be Poland and Estonia and Ukraine." Until this week, some Georgians believed that their newly improved armed forces, trained and outfitted with help from the United States, might hold their own against Russia's much larger but aging military. There was a sense that Georgia was moving beyond the reach of Moscow's ire and would soon find a place among Western states. Many thought that Georgia's gestures of solidarity, from the troops sent to fight alongside the Americans in Iraq to the street named after George W. Bush, might induce the United States to back them up militarily if they ever found themselves menaced by Russia. But they were wrong.

After Georgia launched a surprise attack to seize control of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, killing hundreds of civilians and a handful of Russian peacekeepers, they found themselves alone — and facing Moscow's wrath. "They are invading us, and it's happening in the 21st century, and the whole world is watching," said Teia Tsvertsvadze, a slim paramedic who wore a wooden cross tied around her neck on a string. "We're frustrated. If we were given more active support, maybe Russia wouldn't dare." This war has neatly illustrated that Russia has the military might to overcome Georgia in just a few days. Russian troops have at times appeared to be showing off: Cutting main roads only to relinquish them; occupying towns in Georgia proper and then leaving again; dropping bombs on military and civilian targets at will. "The morale of the people is destroyed," said Vaso Suramelo, 46, staring in dismay at the smoldering hills.

The remains of a hard battle littered the country road leading into Gori from the capital. Burned-out tanks and broken-down artillery canons lay scattered like forgotten toys on the charred roadway. Two hulking personnel carriers had smashed into one another, head-on. Passing cars slowed down and eased around them. But the soldiers were gone. The road to the capital stretched out, half-deserted and stripped of military protection. There were signs Tuesday that the war could be drawing to an end, but many Georgians remain skeptical. Russia will continue to fight, they said, until they take over the entire country, or until the Georgian government falls. "They have no right to do it," said ambulance driver Shalva Gokashvilli. "They want to keep us under control, to keep us from NATO. They never wanted us to be independent." "The Russians never keep their promises," Gokashvilli spat out.


Georgia Claims Russian Tanks Enter Key City

Georgia is accusing Russia of sending tanks into the strategic city of Gori despite a cease-fire in the fight over two pro-Russian breakaway Georgian regions. Georgian National Security Council Secretary Alexander Lomaia told reporters Wednesday that about 50 Russian tanks and armored vehicles had entered the city. Russia has denied the presence of tanks, but says troops have set up several checkpoints near the largely-abandoned city. There were no reports of combat. Both Georgia and Russia have agreed to the main points of a French-brokered peace plan which calls for the withdrawal of forces from two Georgian breakaway regions and free access for humanitarian aid workers. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says the European Union should deploy peacekeeping monitors to help diffuse the situation. Kouchner spoke Wednesday ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium. Georgia's Health Minister Alexander Kvitashvili says that 175 Georgians have died in five days of air and ground attacks. Russia says the death toll is at least 1,500. There are no independently confirmed casualty figures. South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990's but have not been internationally recognized.


Russian troops roll into key city despite truce

ORJOSANI, GEORGIA - AUGUST 13: Russian soldiers sit atop their armoured vehicles, August 13, 2008 near Orjosani on the main road between Gori and Tblisi in Georgia. Russia has denied reports of Russian troops advancing on Tblisi, as a fragile ceasefire holds in the region.

Russian troops and paramilitaries rolled into the strategic Georgian city of Gori on Wednesday, apparently violating a truce designed to end the conflict that has uprooted tens of thousands and scarred the Georgian landscape. Georgian officials said Gori, a central hub on Georgia's main east-west highway, was looted and bombed by the Russians before they left later in the day. Moscow denied the accusations, but it appeared to be on a technicality: a BBC reporter in Gori reported that Russians tanks were in the streets as their South Ossetian separatist allies seized Georgian cars, looted Georgian homes and then set some homes ablaze. "Russia has treacherously broken its word," Georgia's Security Council chief Alexander Lomaia said Wednesday in Tbilisi, the capital.

Georgians run away from an approaching Russian military convoy, near Gori, Georgia northwest of capital Tbilisi, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008 Russian troops and paramilitaries rolled into the strategic Georgian city of Gori on Wednesday, smashing an EU-brokered truce designed to end the six-day conflict that has uprooted 100,000 people and scarred the Georgian landscape.

An AP reporter saw dozens of trucks and armored vehicles leaving Gori, roaring southeast. Soldiers waved at journalists and one soldier jokingly shouted to a photographer: "Come with us, beauty, we're going to Tbilisi!" But the convoy turned north and left the highway about an hour's drive from the Georgian capital, and set up camp a mile off the road. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russian troops were near Gori to secure weapons left behind by the Georgians. To the west, Russian-backed Abkhazian separatists pushed Georgian troops out of Abkhazia and even moved into Georgian territory itself, defiantly planting a flag over the Inguri River and laughing that retreating Georgians had received "American training in running away." The developments came less than 12 hours after Georgia's president said he accepted a cease-fire plan brokered by France. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that Russia was halting military action because Georgia had paid enough for its attack last Thursday on South Ossetia.

Smoke rises from a Georgian army base outside Gori, Georgia, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008. About 50 Russian tanks entered Gori on Wednesday morning, according to a top Georgian official Alexander Lomaia. Complete confirmation of Lomaia's claim was not possible, but an APTN television crew in Gori saw some Russian armored vehicles Wednesday morning near a military base there.

In Washington, President Bush said he was skeptical that Moscow was honoring the cease-fire and announced that a massive U.S. humanitarian effort was already in progress, and would involve U.S. aircraft as well as naval forces. "To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe and other nations and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis," Bush said. The EU peace plan calls for both sides to retreat to the positions they held prior to the outbreak of fighting late Thursday. That phrasing apparently would allow Georgian forces to return to the positions they held in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and clearly obliges Russia to leave all parts of Georgia except South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili criticized Western nations for failing to help Georgia, a U.S. ally that has been seeking NATO membership. "I feel that they are partly to blame," he said Wednesday. "Not only those who commit atrocities are responsible ... but so are those who fail to react. In a way, Russians are fighting a proxy war with the West through us."

Russian at first denied that tanks were even in Gori but video footage proved otherwise. About 50 Russian tanks entered Gori in the morning, according to Lomaia. The city of 50,000 lies 15 miles south of South Ossetia, where much of the fighting has taken place. Russian deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn admitted that Russians went into Gori, but not in tanks. He said Russians were looking for Georgian officials to talk to about implementing the EU truce but could not find any. A Russian government official who wasn't authorized to give his name said Russian troops checked a Georgian military base near Gori and found lots of abandoned weapons and ammunition, then moved the ordnance to a safe place as part of efforts to demilitarize the area. Some of the Russian units that later left to camp outside the city were camouflaged with foliage. The convoy was mainly support vehicles, including ambulances, although there were a few heavy cannons. There were about 100 combat troops and another 100 medics, drivers and other support personnel.

About six miles away from the camp, about 80 well-equipped Georgian soldiers were forming what appeared to be a new frontline, armed with pistols, shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets and Kalashnikovs. Sporadic clashes continued in South Ossetia where Russians responded to Georgian snipers. "We must respond to provocations," Nogovitsyn 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. Russia has handed out passports to most in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and stationed peacekeepers in both regions since the early 1990s. Georgia wants the Russian peacekeepers out, but Medvedev has insisted they stay.

In the west, Georgian troops acknowledged Wednesday they had completely pulled out of a small section of Abkhazia they had controlled. "This is Abkhazian land," one separatist told an AP reporter over the Inguri River, saying they were laying claim to historical Abkhazian territory. The fighters had moved across a thin slice of land dotted with Georgian villages. "The border has been along this river for 1,000 years," separatist official Ruslan Kishmaria told the AP on Wednesday. He said Georgia would have to accept the new border. Nogovitsyn admitted Wednesday that Russian peacekeepers had disarmed Georgian troops in Kodori — the same peacekeepers that Georgia wants withdrawn.

Abkhazia lies close to the heart of many Russians. Its Black Sea coast was a favorite vacation spot in Soviet times and the province is just down the coast from Sochi, the Russian resort that will host the 2014 Olympics. For several days, Russian troops held the western town of Zugdidi near Abkhazia, controlling the region's main highway. An AP reporter saw a convoy of 13 Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers in Zugdidi's outskirts Wednesday. Later in the day, Georgian officials said the Russians pulled out of Zugdidi. "They just don't want freedom, and that's why they want to stamp on Georgia and destroy it," he declared to thousands at a jam-packed square in Tbilisi. Leaders of five former Soviet bloc states — Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine — also appeared at the rally and spoke out against Russian domination.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree Wednesday saying that Russian navy ships deployed to the Georgian coast will need authorization to return to the navy base Russia leases from Ukraine. The World Food Program sent 34 tons of high-energy biscuits Wednesday help the tens of thousands uprooted by the fighting. Russia has accused Georgia of killing more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, in South Ossetia. The claim couldn't be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the area over the weekend said hundreds had died. Georgia says at least 175 Georgians have died in Russian air and ground attacks. The Russia-Georgia dispute also reached the international courts, with the Georgian security council saying it had sued Russia for alleged ethnic cleansing.


Russian convoy drives fresh fears of war

THE fragile ceasefire between Georgia and Russia was in jeopardy overnight after a Russian convoy headed towards the nation's capital. The BBC reported that a convoy of about 60 vehicles, mainly troop carriers, progressed 15 to 20 kilometres east from Gori along the road to Tbilisi. But it said the convoy then turned north, away from the capital. A spokesman for the Russian Government said the convoy was not bound for the Georgian capital, but was demilitarising the area near the South Ossetian border so that Georgia could not launch new attacks. The troops, which had been on Georgia's main east-west highway between Gori and Tbilisi, "never planned" to travel to the capital, the spokesman said. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili earlier told CNN that forces were moving towards Tbilisi, and were trying to encircle the city. "The Russians are encroaching upon the capital. They are making a circle," Mr Saakashvili said, adding: "We will protect our capital until the last drop of our blood. We will never surrender to the Russians." Mr Saakashvili said Georgian forces were stationed in and around Tbilisi and vowed an "all-out resistance" to the Russian forces. His comments came just hours after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Russia and Georgia had agreed a fragile ceasefire after five days of bitter conflict.

Russia, however, has accused Georgia of failing to pursue an "active withdrawal" from South Ossetia. "Georgian forces have begun their pull-back toward Tbilisi but no active withdrawal has yet been observed," General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the staff of the armed forces, told reporters. Bowing to vastly superior military might, Mr Saakashvili had earlier said he would accept a Russian ceasefire agreement to end a five-day conflict, despite terms some have described as humiliating. Mr Saakashvili appears to have all but given up his bid to reclaim two disputed regions on the Russian border. Russia, which said it had suspended military operations, continued bombing sites deep in Georgia hours later. The head of its national security council, Alexander Lomaia, said about 50 Russian tanks had entered Gori, 25 kilometres south of South Ossetia, about eight hours after Georgia accepted the ceasefire. Russia denied the claims.

The United States has cancelled planned joint military exercises with Russia, as officials consider broader reprisals in protest at Moscow's offensive. The August 15-23 exercises were to involve ships from Russia, France, Britain and the US in the Sea of Japan, and an onshore component in the Russian port of Vladivostok. Top US officials were studying responses to Russia's "disproportionate" attacks on Georgia, after demanding Moscow make good on its promise to halt the offensive. Analysts said the peace plan, backed by France and the European Union, left no doubt Russia had won the conflict. Russia clearly saw it as an opportunity to reassert dominance over an area it viewed as part of its historic sphere of influence. Georgia, a former Soviet republic, gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.


And in related news:

Ukraine imposes restrictions on Russian navy

Ukraine imposed new restrictions on Russian naval vessels based at Sevastopol on the Black Sea as former Soviet bloc states lined up to show support for Georgia in its fight with Russia.

President Victor Yushchenko raised the prospect of revoking an agreement that allows Russia to use the Crimean port until 2017 if Russian commanders defy the new restrictions. The presidential decree requires vessels blockading Georgia to ask Kiev's permission to return to the treaty port. Reasserting control over its near neighbours is at the heart of Russia's foreign policy. It has ruthlessly cut winter energy supplies to secure compliance from Eastern Europe and used Russian-speaking minorities from the Baltics to Central Asia as leverage against states courting the West. Mr Yushchenko joined the leaders of Poland and the Baltic states on a solidarity mission by a self-described group of "captive nations" of the USSR, to Tbilisi on Tuesday. Even before yesterday's decree, Mr Yushchenko had faced domestic criticism for adopting positions that inevitably antagonise Moscow. Ukrainian political analyst James Hydzik said the president had put the country in Moscow's crosshairs. He said: "Protestations of neutrality from the Ukrainian government are not helped by the visit [to Tbilisi], at least from the Russian standpoint."

Russia has used a mixture of bluster and threats to resist efforts by Georgia and Ukraine to join Nato. But even states that are members of the EU are not immune from Kremlin intimidation. "In the Baltic states and Ukraine, independence is still seen as something fragile and not necessarily built to last," said Bartosz Cichocki, an expert at the Polish Institute for International Affairs. "So if it's not defended actively, it can't last." In the aftermath of the Russian assault on Georgia, many former Soviet citizens doubt that the West can restrain Moscow. Even confidence in Nato's charter guarantee that all states will aid any member attacked from abroad has been shaken. "People are certainly afraid that Russia could attack Lithuania just like Georgia," said Lithuanian political scientist Kestutis Girnius. "And you see that kind of view among politicians," The legacy of Soviet domination still haunts Russia's relations with its former allies. "We came to fight since our old neighbour thinks that it can fight us," Polish President Lech Kaczynski said in Tbilisi. "This country thinks that old times will come back, but that time is over. Everyone knows that the next one could be Ukraine, then Poland." Poland and the three Baltic countries yesterday raised objections to a French ceasefire plan, criticising it for not explicitly guaranteeing Georgia territorial integrity.

Not all ex-Soviet states are anti-Kremlin democracies. But even pliable Belarus, a Soviet-style dictatorship with a mutual support pact with Moscow, was admonished by the Kremlin for not offering enough support. Moscow has challenged world opinion before, most notoriously its agents used radioactive material to poison defector Andrei Litvinenko in a London hotel. But the Russian operation in Georgia has raised calls to isolate Russia to the forefront of international politics. Both candidates in the US presidential election have condemned Moscow's aggression. Senator John McCain had already signalled he would toughen policy towards Russia if elected by securing its expulsion from the G8. Guided by the foreign policy specialist Robert Kagan, Sen McCain hopes to establish a league of democracies to contain authoritarian states, principally Russia and China.


Rice told Georgia to avoid conflict with Russia: report

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice privately warned Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to avoid a conflict with Russia during her trip to Tbilisi in July, The New York Times reported Wednesday. "She told him, in no uncertain terms, that he had to put a non-use of force pledge on the table," an unnamed senior US official who accompanied Rice on the trip told the newspaper. The message was delivered during a private dinner on July 9, the report added. Publicly, however, during the trip Rice blamed Russia as a source of continuing unrest in the country. Russia "needs to be a part of resolving the problem and solving the problems and not contributing to it," she said at a July 10 joint press conference with Saakashvili. Rice's July visit to Georgia came amid increased diplomatic confrontation between the Washington and Moscow over Georgia's desire to join NATO, as well as the status of the separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Despite the public bravado, top US officials warned the Georgians not to allow the conflict to escalate through until hours before Georgia launched its attack, the newspaper reported. The top US envoy for the region, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, received a phone call from Georgia's foreign minister on Thursday saying their country was under attack, the report stated. "We told them they had to keep their unilateral cease-fire," the unnamed official told the newspaper. "We said, be smart about this, don't go in and don't fall for the Russian provocation. Do not do this'." Saakashvili did not inform Washington ahead of the offensive, senior US officials told the newspaper. "The Georgians figured it was better to ask forgiveness later, but not ask for permission first," an administration official told the newspaper. "It was a decision on their part. They knew we would say no'."


Georgia's Israeli arms point Russia to Iran

With the eruption of fighting between Russia and Georgia, Israel has found itself in an awkward position as a result of its arms sales to Georgia. Israel is now caught between its friendly relations with Georgia and its fear that the continued sale of weaponry will spark Russian retribution in the form of increased arms sales to Iran and Syria. After fighting broke out late last week between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend recommended suspending the sale of all weapons and defense-related equipment to Georgia, the daily Ha'aretz newspaper reported. The paper quoted an unnamed senior official saying that Israel needed "to be very careful and sensitive these days. The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons."

Israel's immediate concern is that Russia will proceed with the sale of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, which would help it defend its nuclear installations from aerial attack. Israel, like the US, believes that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing a bomb, and Israeli leaders have refused to rule out the possibility of a pre-emptive strike aimed at derailing Iran's nuclear aspirations. Israel recently conducted a major aerial exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece that was widely viewed as a rehearsal for a possible strike against Iran's nuclear installations. But with the US and Europe resorting to diplomatic pressure in the form of sanctions to deter Iran, Israel is loathe to anger Russia, which until now has opposed harsher sanctions on Tehran. Israel's relations with Georgia have been close, partly because there is a large Georgian xxxish community in Israel. In recent years, ties have also taken on a military dimension, with military industries in Israel supplying Georgia with some US$200 million worth of equipment since 2000. This has included remotely piloted planes, rockets, night-vision equipment, other electronic systems and training by former senior Israeli officers.

"Israel should be proud of its military, which trained Georgian soldiers," Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili told Israel's Army Radio in Hebrew shortly after the fighting erupted. Israel is not a major supplier of arms to Georgia, with the US and France supplying Tbilisi with most of its weaponry. But the arms transfers have attracted media attention partly because of the role played by some high-profile Israeli figures, including former Tel Aviv mayor Roni Milo, who conducted business in Georgia on behalf of Israel Military Industries. According to media reports, Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, a senior commander in the 2006 Lebanon war who resigned after the release of a highly critical report on the way the war was conducted, served as an adviser to Georgian security forces. Further attention was drawn to the Israel-Georgia arms trade earlier this year when a Russian jet shot down an Israeli-made drone being operated by the Georgians.

Even though weapons transfers were modest in scope, Russian diplomats began increasingly relaying to Israel their annoyance over its military aid to Georgia, including the special forces training provided by security experts. Israel decided about a year ago to limit military exports to defensive equipment and training. New contracts weren't approved as the arms sales were scaled back. Georgia's request for 200 advanced Israeli-made Merkava tanks, for example, was turned down. There were reports in Israel that the sale of the tanks didn't go through because of a disagreement over the commission that was to be paid as part of the deal. But Amos Yaron, the former director general of the Defense Ministry, insisted it had to do with "security-diplomatic considerations" - a clear reference to the sensitivity of the arms sales to Georgia. Israel, Yaron added, didn't want "to harm Russian interests too much". Asked about the motivation to initially engage in the sale of weaponry to Georgia despite concerns it might anger Russia, Yaron replied: "We did see that there was potential for a conflagration in the region but Georgia is a friendly state, it's supported by the US, and so it was difficult to refuse."


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.