Tag Archives: South Ossetia

Georgia Began War In South Ossetia Says EU Report

Last year the right wing media and the Bush administration insisted that Russia was responsible for initiating the war against Georgia during the dispute over South Ossetia.
A European Union task force investigated the war and has concluded that Russia was responsible for a long period of provocations, but it was Georgia which took initial actions to begin the war. The report stated bluntly, “operations started with a massive Georgian military attack” and there was no evidence to suggest Russian forces began the war.

However, the report makes clear “much of the Russian military action went far beyond the reasonable limits of defense” and the vicious response to the Georgian attack was out of all proportion to what had happened.

It is ironic but the report about Russia-Georgia is remarkably similar to reports concerning events in Gaza. For some reason, anti-Israel critics who seek a boycott of that nation are remarkably silent on the issue of boycotting Russia for doing what they claim Israel did.

Georgians Protest Against Their President

President Saakashvili of Georgia was an admirer of George Bush and attempted to draw upon this friendship to invade South Ossetia last year assuming the United States would support his efforts, particularly if Russia intervened. The result was a complete fiasco and Georgian troops were readily defeated. During the past week, thousands of Georgians have been protesting against the authoritarian rule of Saakashvili and demanding his resignation. But, to the president if anyone opposes his authoritarian rule, they must be in the employ of foreign agents sent from Russia. He made clear, “no matter ow mush is spent and what they might do, Georgia is a stable country.”

The people of Georgia want their president to be held accountable for his failed policies and Russia is not behind the unrest, just thousands of restless Georgians who want a truly democratic society.

Did Georgia Plan To Invade South Ossetia?

The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, has come into possession of information which indicates the Georgian government lied about its reasons for invading South Ossetia. Instead of responding to a Russian attack, evidence suggests that Georgia leader Mikhail Saakashvili, planned an invasion even before there was any indication that Russia would intervene. On August 7, 2008, Mamuka Kurashvili, commander of the Georgian peacekeeping force that had been stationed in South Ossetia, told the press in what appeared to be a carefully staged and prepared talk, that his forces had to intervene in order to “reestablish constitutional order in the entire region.” Der Spiegel sources believe the general was quoting directly from Order, No. 2, August 7.

The government of Georgia still refuses to release the controversial Order No. 2. After Russian troops entered the fight, President Saakashvili, argued that he learned at 10:00 p.m. that Russian tanks had entered, but on the morning of August 7, Georgian forces of 12,000 troops and 75 tanks already had entered South Ossetia.

President Bush and most members of Congress immediately sided with Georgia and condemned Russia for initiating the conflict. Will the American government now acknowledge the events do not reveal it was a Russian initiated war?

Georgia And Russia Conflict Remains In Limbo

The conflict between Georgia and Russia remains in a twilight zone in which neither side is clear as to the final outcome of events over the past few months. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE) was established to monitor the border area between the two nations, but it has decided to end its mission after Russia blocked a proposal to extend its operation. The OSCE viewed its goal as protecting the integrity of Georgia, but neither Russia nor Georgia agrees as to the status of South Ossetia. Is it still a province of Georgia? Is it an independent nation? Is it potentially a part of Russia?

No answers to these questions are possible until Barack Obama becomes president and meets with President Medvedev of Russia to iron out problems caused by the Bush administration. Bush pushed for missile bases which angered and frightened Russia and he most probably urged Georgia to engage in its ill fated invasion of South Ossetia. Hopefully, President Obama can negotiate a compromise dealing with these issues.

Human Rights Violated In South Ossetia

A major issue used by Russia to justify its response to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was the need to protect people from being killed by invading forces. Human Rights Watch just issued a report which claims South Ossetian militias are “running wild” in the Georgian occupied part of their land. They are doing to Georgians what South Ossetians claimed was done to them by the Georgian army. According to Human Rights Watch, “South Ossetian militias are running wild, attacking ethnic Georgians” and “it is high time for Russia to step up to its responsibilities as an occupying power in South Ossetia and rein them in.”

Russia has an opportunity to prove that it was correct in meeting the Georgian invasion, but allowing South Ossetia to act in brutal ways, in effect, destroys the Russian argument that it was functioning in a responsible manner in the region.

Dueling Words In Georgia Area

The battle of words has replaced the battle of tanks and soldiers in the volatile area of South Ossetia and Georgia. Georgia charged there was a build up of Russian soldiers on its border while Russian sources claim the Georgians are responsible for any tension in the region. Georgian Interior Ministry spokesperson, Shota Utiashvli insisted, “during the last two weeks, 2,000 additional Russian troops have been deployed in South Ossetia,” and tanks are moving up to the border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded by pointing out Russia is abiding by its promise to maintain a force of about 3,700 troops. He also claimed Georgia sent special forces into South Ossetia and expressed anger at the murder of the head of military intelligence by Georgia forces.

There is scant doubt rhetoric will die down any time in the near future. Each side is attempting to justify its behavior in recent events. Georgia will not admit it began the entire episode, and Russia will not admit it over-reacted to the entire situation.

Russia Moves To Normalize Conditions In Georgia

European Union monitors in Georgia confirm that Russian troops are in the process of dismantling checkpoints as promised in their agreement with President Sarkozy several weeks ago. The deadline for completing the operation is Friday and all signs point to accomplishing that goal. The Russian effort is proceeding despite a car bombing in South Ossetia which resulted in the death of seven Russian soldiers. South Ossetia’s separatist leader, Eduard Kokoity. termed the explosion a “terrorist act” and blamed Georgian agents for carrying it out. However, a spokesman for the European Union confirmed all check points are being taken down and there is no evidence of Russia using the explosion as justification for remaining on
Georgian territory.

The American government has been denouncing Russia for its response to a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia by claiming Russia wants to destroy the government of Georgia. It is doubtful if George Bush or John McCain will say anything about Russia dismantling checkpoints and leaving Georgia because reality does not fit into their fantasy of what happened in South Ossetia a few months ago.

Georgia War Threatened US Security

American military leaders are still reviewing the implication to our security of recent actions on the part of the government of Georgia. President Saakashvili took an enormous gamble when he deliberately provoked Russia by invading South Ossetia. The US military would have confronted a serious problem if Georgia was actually a member of NATO because Article 5 of the NATO treaty says “an armed attack against one or more of them(members).. shall be considered an attack against them all.” It is quite clear to any sane person, the American military was not ready, prepared or capable of undertaking a war in Georgia against a Russian army. Many NATO members place “caveats” on how their armed forces could be used in a war which most probably would have resulted in the case of Georgia of America being placed in the position of carrying the burden of fighting. War is not an enthusiastic idea in nations like Germany or France or Italy.

At the heart of the Georgia episode are many unanswered questions. Why did the Georgia leader expect the United States would support his ill timed adventure into war? Did he misinterpret what President Bush told him? Or, did Bush actually tell him something about American support for a war in South Ossetia? Most probably we will not know the answer to these questions unless a Democrat is elected president.

Cheney Against Invasions Of Other Nations

Vice President Dick Cheney, on a visit to Georgia, spoke out against nations which use military force to intervene in the affairs of other nations. He described Russia’s invasion of Georgia as “an illegitimate, unilateral attempt” to change the country’s borders and expressed concern about Russia’s reliability as an international partner. The vice president assured President Saakashvili the United States would stand beside Georgia as a friend and ally “as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory and an illegitimate unilateral attempt to change your country’s borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world.” However, there was no mention made as to whether the United States would re-equip the Georgian army.

Even as Cheney was expressing reassuring words to Georgia, Dimitry Gogozin, Russia”s fiery representative to NATO was warning the EU and the United States his nation would not stand by idly if Georgia was allowed to enter that organization. He insisted Russia had warned the UK it would take action if Georgia invaded South Ossetia, but British leaders denied ever receiving such information.

Dick Cheney’s comments may reverberate well to right wing Republicans who believe the Bush invasion of Iraq demonstrated that powerful nations had a right to invade other nations in order to reorganize the world, but most people in the Middle East see little difference between the vice president’s support for the American invasion of Iraq and Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia. In both cases force, rather than diplomacy, was employed.

Russia Fails Gaining China Support

President Medvedev of Russia is disappointed at his failure to obtain support from China for his nation’s actions in Georgia. He was expecting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), of which Russia is a member, would back up the invasion of Georgia. However, although China is not supportive of what Georgia’s actions, it has its own concerns about breakaway regions and will avoid supporting any effort to allow an area to secede from the mother country. The situation in Tibet and Xinjiang province where Muslim dissidents are fighting for autonomy makes the Chinese government hesitant to offer complete support to Russia which, in effect, aided a region to breakaway from its mother country. The other Asian nations in the SCO look more to China for leadership than to Russia and are quietly supporting that nation’s views on Georgia.

In a sense, Russia is now isolated from the world in its response to the Georgia invasion. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is hinting at a plan for the EU to institute economic sanctions against Russia which elicited an angry response from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, that such action would be “the product of a sick imagaintion.”

Perhaps, if Russia had halted at the border of South Ossetia the response to its actions might be less angry.