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Russia, Georgia And South Ossetia: Notes On A War [View All]

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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-21-08 04:05 AM
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Russia, Georgia And South Ossetia: Notes On A War
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By Stephen Blank (08/20/2008 issue of the CACI Analyst)

By August 20, Russia has deployed approximately 20,000 land, sea and air forces to recapture South Ossetia, occupy Abkhazia and invade Georgia, while also bombing civilian and military targets, and instituting a naval blockade. Russias goals are clear: to annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia, destroy Georgias defense capacity and economy, and in all likelihood continue to occupy Georgia until Saakashvilis government is deposed. In other words, Moscow seeks to reduce Georgia to a satellite renouncing its Euro-Atlantic integration. This in turn is intended to prevent any other CIS member of joining NATO, although its actions demonstrate precisely why NATO and the EU cannot leave the CIS to Russias tender mercies.

BACKGROUND: Despite numerous Russian statements that Georgia was actively preparing for war and that it was a reckless and provocative player, in this particular drama Georgia was the bull, not the matador. Although Georgia clearly engaged in provocative statements and behavior despite much Western counseling to refrain from replying to Russian provocations, Russias claims of reacting to ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide are mendacious and tendentious.

The best evidence suggests that Georgias invasion and Russias counterattack were carefully planned provocations by the Siloviki in Moscow and their confederates in South Ossetia. The latter evidently feared that they might be forced by other elements in Moscow to engage at long last and despite all previous Russian blocking of such talks, in direct negotiations with Tbilisi. The FSB agents who run South Ossetia and its pervasive smuggling rackets appear to have believed that this pressure signaled their being sold out by other elements in the Russian government. So instead, they launched a series of escalating provocations in an environment already burdened down by political and military tensions as well as numerous previous provocations.

The South Ossetian attacks in July and early August clearly aimed to lead Georgia to invade, knowing full well that Moscow, who clearly was mobilized, would reply in overwhelming force. The extent, sequence and scope of the South Ossetian provocations as well as the size, readiness, and speed of the Russian counterattack suggests all the hallmark of a classic KGB provocation, and evokes earlier Soviet armed invasions of other countries in its planning. Russias doctrine of invading to protect Russian citizens (who were actually not Russian citizens but citizens of Georgia to whom Russia had granted passports to undermine Georgias sovereignty) also evokes Hitlers practice and rhetoric, particularly the Sudetenland episode of 1938..cont'd


By Johanna Popjanevski (07/09/2008 issue of the CACI Analyst)

A series of shootings and explosions in the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia in the last week have given rise to increased tensions between Tbilisi and the secessionist South Ossetian authorities. The first of the recent incidents took place on July 3, when local police chief, Nodar Bibilov, was killed in an explosion outside his home in the South Ossetian village of Dmenisi. In a subsequent press statement, the South Ossetian de facto government accused the Georgian secret service for the attack, which it referred to as a next step in Georgias policy of state terrorism against the people of South Ossetia.

Only hours later, three Georgian policemen were injured when a convoy, carrying Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian Provisional Administration leader Dimitri Sanakoev, hit a remote-controlled mine while traveling through the conflict zone en route to Batumi. The incident was followed by a shootout between Sanakoevs bodyguards and unknown gunmen firing from the South Ossetian villages of Kokhati and Sarabuki. Sanakoev himself was not injured in the attack.

Ever since the establishment of the alternative, Sanakoev-led administration in May 2007, the secessionist government in Tskhinvali has disputed its legitimacy and denounced Sanakoev as a puppet of Tbilisi. Tskhinvali has nevertheless denied any involvement in the July 3 assassination attempt. In a July 4 statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry instead accused the Georgian side of staging the attack and exploiting the incident to justify military mobilization in the conflict zone. Russia has on several former occasions directed similar accusations against the Georgian authorities, particularly in connection with clashes in the Abkhaz conflict zone.

The standoff between Georgian and South Ossetian militia escalated on July 4, with overnight exchanges of fire between the South Ossetian-controlled territory and Georgian villages. As a result, two ethnic Ossetians were killed (in Tskhinvali and the village of Ubiat) and several were injured. The Russian federation immediately blamed Tbilisi for the clash and declared it an open act of aggression by the Georgian side. Tbilisi on its part maintained that it had returned fire only after Georgian villages had been attacked by South Ossetian militia. Over the following days, sporadic shooting continued but with no confirmed casualties.

On July 8, the secessionist authorities declared that they had detained four Georgian police officers on an alleged reconnaissance mission in the Znauri district on South Ossetian controlled territory. The Georgian authorities later confirmed that the officers had been arrested but maintained that they had been abducted while patrolling the Kareli district, located on the Georgian side of the administrative border. At a National Security Council emergency session in the afternoon of July 8, Georgian President Saakashvili directed strong criticism towards the secessionist authorities for the incident, which he referred to as kidnapping, and called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to use all legal means available to secure the release of the detained Georgian officers. Shortly thereafter, the Georgian side announced that the officers had been released and that negotiations regarding their return to Georgia were underway...cont'd

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