South Ossetia: alea jacta est

That’s Latin for “throw the dice high”, and that’s what it looks like Georgian leader Saakashvili has done.

I’m no longer the Fistful’s Man In the Caucasus — I left in March, after the violence in Armenia. Doug Merrill is now the go-to guy: he’s in Tbilisi, very close to the action. But he’s asleep right now, and it looks like some of our readers are still awake, so FWIW here’s an impression from a distance. Half-informed, amateur war analysis follows.

Who started it? — Looks like Georgia. The sniping earlier came from both sides, but the Georgians have clearly launched a major ground offensive, and that doesn’t just happen by accident.

Why? Why? — What follows is a mishmash of guesses. Take it with a big grain of salt.

South Ossetia has always been vulnerable to a blitzkrieg attack. It’s small, it’s not very populous (~70,000 people), and it’s surrounded by Georgia on three sides. It’s very rugged and mountainous, yes, but it’s not suited to defense in depth. There’s only one town of any size (Tsikhinvali, the capital) and only one decent road connecting the province with Russia.

That last point bears emphasizing. There’s just one road, and it goes through a tunnel. There are a couple of crappy roads over the high passes, but they’re in dreadful condition; they can’t support heavy equipment, and are closed by snow from September to May. Strategically, South Ossetia dangles by that single thread.

So, there was always this temptation: a fast determined offensive could capture Tsikhinvali, blow up or block the tunnel, close the road, and then sit tight. If it worked, the Russians would then be in a very tricky spot: yes, they outnumber the Georgians 20 to 1, but they’d have to either drop in by air or attack over some very high, nasty mountains. This seems to be what the Georgians are trying to do: attack fast and hard, grab Tsikhinvali, and close the road.

So, is it working? — It’s too early to tell, but it’s not looking good. There’s not much solid information, but it appears that (1) the Georgians don’t have firm control of Tsikhinvali yet; (2) they don’t seem to be anywhere close to the tunnel; (3) the Russians have reacted with unexpected speed and energy, so that Russian troops are already on the ground in the province, and (4) the Russians have grabbed control of South Ossetia’s airspace. Things are still fluid, but it’s not looking good for the Georgians.

(Saakashvili’s actions this afternoon seem to reflect this. He’s visibly shaken, and he’s been yelling for help from the US and the EU. That’s not going to happen.)

Why did Saakashvili try this now? — Here’s my guess, based on my impression of Saakashvili’s character.

Saakashvili is an ardent nationalist who doesn’t view the disputes with Russia rationally. To him, they’re painful and continuing insults to the national soul.

More importantly, Saakashvili is a gambler. That’s because he lacks patience. He’s charming and clever, but he bores easily. He’s also facing internal political difficulties ; they weren’t likely to unseat him, but probably raised his frustration level. And when faced with frustration, his instinct is to look for a brilliant, dramatic stroke to cut through it.

So, Saakashvili was stupid? — That might be too strong. But it looks like he made a couple of bad assumptions.

It appears he thought the Russians wouldn’t fight, or wouldn’t fight well. He seems to have that they were either not really committed to South Ossetia, or that they’d be too screwed up and disorganized to respond quickly to a fast offensive. The first of these was probably a foolish assumption — the Russians have made it clear that they’re committed — but the second wasn’t. Keep in mind that the recent Russian military record in the Caucasus does not inspire pure fear. Yes, Putin crushed the Chechens, but only after the Russians had been humiliated in the first war and then had brought overwhelming force in the second.

But while the assumption wasn’t foolish, basing a major offensive on it probably was. Yes, the Russian military is sometimes disorganized and incompetent, but you can’t consistently count on it.

It also looks like Saakashvili, or someone, thought the Russians would be distracted. The Olympics, perhaps, but more “itt’s August, everyone is on vacation”. That sounds silly, but it’s not completely — it’s hard to overstate how much things shut down in these countries in August. Government offices empty out, courts and Parliament close, and even senior defense officials may vanish to very distant beaches and cabins for days at a time.

But, as it turned out, not: the Russian response may be a little chaotic, but it’s looking vigorous and fast. Someone was minding the store.

— I note in passing that this “let’s try something in August” trick has been done before… most notably by the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War, in August 1914. Hm.

It should also be noted that Russian intelligence has put a fair amount of effort into penetrating Georgia. So it’s possible the campaign plans were compromised from fairly early on.

So what happens now? — Well, it’s guesses piled on guesses at this point, but if Georgia can’t get into a strong position quickly they’re going to be in a very difficult situation. Another day or two should tell.

63 thoughts on “South Ossetia: alea jacta est

  1. The Latin means ‘the die has been thrown’. In other words, the gamble has already been made; there’s no going back. Sources disagree on whether Caesar said this just after crossing the Rubicon, or ‘Let the die be thrown!’ just *before* crossing the Rubicon. Either way, Saakashvili crossed the Rubicon a while ago.

    It’s all up to Russia how big they want to make this, I think. South Ossetia per se may not be worth much, but inflicting total humiliation on Georgia and demonstrating Russian military competence might be. For Russia it’s a calculation as to what would be best for reputation and prestige. For Georgia, things could get very bad indeed if Russia chooses – it’s not like anyone is going to be crazy enough to come to their rescue in the event of all-out war.

  2. As I can see Georgia lost this region. They killed 1400 civilians. This can’t be forgotten.

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Georgia: The Blame Game

  4. I do not like this:

    Bombs rocked Tbilisi early Saturday morning as the fight between Georgia and Russia over a breakaway region intensified and moved into the Georgian capital.

    Hope Doug is okay.

  5. Défense et Sécurité international’s chief editor seems to disagree with you.

    http://www.air-defense.net/Forum_AD/index.php?topic=11015.msg320339#msg320339

    “Pour info, j’ai eu une entrevue privée avec le président Saakashvili la veille au soir du déclenchement des combats, dans son bureau, et il s’apprêtait à partir pour les JO de Pékin… De même, l’un des responsables de l’OSCE sur place, en charge de l’Ossétie du Sud, rencontré le même jour à Tbilissi, ne prévoyait absolument pas ce qui est en train de se passer. Il ne s’agit donc pas, à mon avis, d’une attaque coordonnée à l’avance par Tbilissi mais d’une escalade qui a dégénéré très rapidement, prenant tout le monde de court (Géorgiens inclus).
    Bon, j’arrête là et essaierai de reprendre le fil dans quelques heures.”

    rough translation:

    For info, I had a private interview with president Saakashvili a day before the fighting, in his office, and he was getting ready to leave for Beijing…
    An official from the OSCE, in charge of South Ossetia, met the same day in Tbilissi, didn’t predict anything about the fighting.It is not, in my opinion, a coordinated attack by Tbilissi but an escalation that got out of control very quickly and caught everybody by suprise”.

  6. I agree with the “escalation that got out of control and caught everybody by surprise”-part.

    The so-called Georgian “offensive” is just showing no signs of being effectively organized or coordinated from the top. Either they really had no intention to let things get _this_ far, or they’re following their plans pretty damn badly. Me, I suspect the first option.

    The road network, um. It should have been pretty painfully obvious to everyone that in any hypothetical conflict the Russians would more or less have the air supremacy and be able to exercise their airlift capability freely. Which is what’s happening right now, incidentally.

    The part that Douglas mentioned about August and Olympics is interesting, because right now, Saakashvili has argued that _Russians_ used the same distractions to their advantage. Hilarious.

    As expected, Saakashvili is also exercising just the kind of rhetoric that one would expect: “We’re in the same situation as Finland in 1939, when Stalin’s brutal dictatorship invaded. History is repeating itself”.

    (Oh yeah? I don’t seem to recall that Finland had been razing the Russian villages on the Karelian Isthmus back in 1939. I’ll extend Saakashvili the same greetings that I did to ambassadour Shomrat when she compared the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Winter War; get stuffed, bloody hypocrite.)

    Personally, I’ll give it four weeks, tops. By the time when the Russians have a full control over the territory, a renewed political crisis in Georgia seems a possibility. And this time, the subsequent resolution to the hostilities will be permanent, and definitely in favour of South Ossetia and Russia.

    Cheers,

    J. J.

  7. Good analysis, but I would like to see it be taken a step further and discuss where this might go. Specifically, what happens if the Russians do bomb Tbilisi and what this would do to relations between the U.S. and Russia? The U.S. is heavily invested in Georgia diplomatically and will be required to make noises in Georgia’s defense whatever happens … (no matter what that means to the U.S.’s bigger interests in the region).

    Any thoughts?

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  9. As noted, there just was a salvo dropped on Vaziani. Doesn’t seem to be doing anything to the Russian-American relations. Instead, the permanent members of the UNSC are working in perfect concert.

    And the United States is, at the moment, pretty impotent, anyway. “Making noises in Georgia’s defence” will probably mean just repeated “could you all just stop this and get along?”-pleas with attempts to mediate and contain the conflict – which will obviously require maintaining communications with Russia. So, that’s about it.

    (N.B., our eastern neighbours are playing it quite smart, and they’re quite succesfully and credibly maintaining an image that they _don’t really want to do this, but they’re being forced to_. That will have an effect.)

    The best part so far is that Georgia is pulling out of Iraq copletely – barely a year after they had boasted doubling the number of their troops. Some good things coming out of this mess.

    Cheers,

    J. J.

  10. J.J.

    I hope your right. This seems tailor-made for the Bush administration to defend “freedom” … Lucky for all concerned that neither Georgia nor (especially) S. Ossetia really resonate with American voters or interest groups.

  11. Pingback: War in the Caucasus | Joshua Treviño

  12. Russians now saying that elements of the 76th (Pskov) Airborne Division are being flown down to Vladikavkaz, plus part or all of the 45th Reconnaissance Regiment.

    Part of the problem for the Georgians is that if you look at the map, once you get past Tsikhinvali, you’re already past the mountains and into the central valley. As far as I can make out from MS Virtual Earth (the only mapping service that provides labelled maps for this area) the tunnel is quite a long way north; I presume the Russians will have been planning to get through it first for quite some time.

  13. Just to add to what Alex says above: the road that links Tskhinvali with the Roki tunnel looks to be about 32 miles long, and for most of its length it lies in a steep valley. What sort of strength on the ground would the Russians need in order to defend that route?

  14. About bombing:
    There is a significant difference in a mass media across the world. USA media say Russians are bombing Tbilisi. Others (including BBC, Reuters…) say military air bases across the country and military air base Vaziani near Tbilisi. And of course nothing about georgian invasion an hour after agreement not to fire until a meeting in Friday, first UN session. And of course no US, european journalists in Ossetia, only in Georgia, so that nobody lnow the truth.
    About 1939 and Stalin. Stalin and his ally Beria were georgian, and georgians dominated across the Caucasus by repressions at that time. So may be georgians should look at themselves.

  15. Russians had not bombed Tbilisi as of 15.00 local time, I can confirm as I have driven through three quarters of the city today. Since then, I’ve been home and might have missed it, but it seems very unlikely.

  16. I would have thought that round about now is when we should start bombarding the White House, Downing Street, the Elysee Palace and the German Chancellery with emails asking them to instruct their putative NATO allies in Georgia to withdraw their troops to allow a peacekeeping operation restore order under the leadership of the Russians but with participation from neutrals like, say, Finalnd, Ireland, India etc. While we’re all points scoring, people are dying.
    You can get the South Ossetian viewpoint of the invasion here

  17. The other unrecognized states, Abkazia and Pridnestrovie are giving South-Ossetia militairy
    support. The Abkhasian army is allready fighting the Georgian army, because they realize that as the Georgians succeed in South-Ossetia, they will be the next victim of the Georgian agression. Pridnestrovie has last month signed a agreement with South-Ossetia in which is declared that if any of the two country’s will suffer from a military attack, the other will support with militairy aid. So, the Pridnestrovians are now forming a volonteer corps, made of veterans and kozaks. The trouble is how to get their troups together with their equipment to South-Ossetia. For Pridnestrovie is land-locked, so they have to go through Ukrainian territory. But the Ukraine is supporting Georgie…
    Ron

  18. Frightening and soothing a little bit at the same – this discussion. I am very happy that at least the West can also read the other side’s information and analyze both sides’ positions.
    For me, innocent people blood is the worst thing on Earth.
    Big politics – always it will be in our world.
    But killing children and women – that’s what fascists did.
    I am confirmed that this should finally awaken the world community and help stop the war!
    God bless this world!!

  19. “I am very happy that at least the West can also read the other side’s information and analyze both sides’ positions.”
    I don’t think there is a problem with East also, everybody who really care try to analyze all the information to find out the truth. Comparing media this time, I would say russian media is more honest and provides more information.
    P.S. In Georgia russian TV and web-sites with domain .ru were blocked yesterday.

  20. Generally Georgia has begun artillery bombardment of a city. The hospital, school are destroyed… The Main Separatist – the president of Georgia

  21. Quick question: how do you pronounce Tskhinvali? It looks to me like it might sound something like “chicken valley”.

  22. Israel and the US will very soon attack Iran and needed to distract Russia by opening a front with Georgia. Russia is also planning to move its navy to Tartus in Syria, closer to Israel which jeopardizes American and Israeli interests in the region. We can expect wars in Lebanon and Iran and tensions in Abkhazia and Ukraine. Unfortunately for ordinary Americans, the war over oil will continue regardless of who is in power (Obama&Brzezinski (Russia/Serbia hater) or McCain&Neocons (Islam haters)). Of course, unfortunate are the Georgians who have the “pro-Western” (read a Western marionette) president who is jeopardizing the lives of its own citizens (aren’t they all Georgia’s citizens?). As for the “West” (read neocon clique), they use double standards all too often. Kosovo independence is OK, but South Ossetia’s is not…Hypocrites!!!

  23. Thanks, Benoit. I had a pool going on how long it would take for someone to blame this on Israel, and you just won me $20.

  24. Pingback: By The Fault » Blog Archive » Do Not Feed the Bears, Do Not Taunt the Bears

  25. Pingback: Stationary Orbit » Georgia

  26. Pingback: Georgia “pulls out of South Ossetia”

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  28. Breakaway regions: let them break away! The South Ossetians should have the same right to have their own country that Georgia had when it became a republic. Same with Abkhazia, the Basque Region, Kosovo. There should be a referendum, majority rules, redraw the map with as many of one ethnic group as possible on the same side of the new border, guarantee rights for those on the wrong side, and in a generation it would be like South Tyrol or Alsace: no bombings, no tanks, loss of language and culture maybe, but not necessarily. Anytime a politician or a people start valuing the Fatherland more than the people in it you know there’s going to be trouble.

  29. You are welcome Azazel. If you have any other interpretation on how to explain Israeli military aid to Georgia, let me know…OK? Otherwise, I’m all for Isreal confronting the followers of virulent Islam.

  30. I am from the far east (neutral). Georgia is the aggressor! CNN (american) quoted their president as saying he planned the atrocity on 08 August, killing innocent civilians with weapons (1500 to 2000) of them. The civilian death toll for Georgia, at only 200, is way too low compared to the atrocity they commited. Crush Georgia!!

  31. (Far east, neutral), My dear Qartveli (georgian). It does not matter how much provocation you can quote, the one who uses weapons to kill civilians on a large scale (1,500 to 2,000) is THE AGGRESSOR!! It is against international humanitarian law. Georgia SHOULD BE PUNISHED!! As long as Georgian deaths numbers less than the few thousands, the world shall think it is still acceptable!!

  32. TO: Al

    The “peacekeepers” (russians) burned houses and killed people in georgia!!! What should a country do if sutch things happen in its bordes? Of course they should retaliate. Most of the dead civilians come from russian missiles and mortars that hit civilian objects far away from military objects.

    And Georgia offered peace and retreated from Ossetia. What russians did? They closed the corridors that were made to help the civilians to escape the regions. Also they left Ossetia and are seiging Gori Now.

    What about Abhasia? There are about 50 000 abhasians and allmoust 100 000 georgians but Russian Federation thinks that Abhasia should be reliberated!!!

    What utter nonsens.

    Russian military is full of lies.

  33. Dear Mik,
    show me evidence or reports that says the 2000 civilians in S. Ossentia that died were due to Russian missiles and weapons killing them?

    You are trying to bring another issue to cover this issue. I am referring to the attack which killed the 2000 innocent S. Ossentia civilians.

    The aggressor and murderers are the Georgians (this was even reported in the western media, pro-georgia)

    So, if we agree that Georgians killed the innocent civilians, then they have blood on their hands, and have lost the right to cry foul!!

  34. I hope the Russians slaughter every Georgian man, woman, and child after what the Georgians did to the poor Ossentians. Then I want Putin and Chavez to send troops to slaughter the Americans, what glee I would take to see the blood of five million dead Americans in a single day of butchering!

  35. Wow. Leondra you are an ignorant brainwashed fool. I am American so let me get help explain the situation over here. First off, yes the U.S. media is biased towards Georgia, but anyone with the internet should be able to see that there is more to the issue. From what it is obvious is that Gerogia attacked first, but there was much provactation from the Russian “peacekeepers”. Russia had expected this an launched a full scale attack on Georgia from which they have opened up 2 fronts and are beseiging Gori. Georgia has called for a truce, but the Russians refused. Russia’s goal is to overthrow Georgia’s president. This is all very hypocritical of Russia because of they did the same thing to Chechnya. Putin longs for the Cold War days and has used anti-US and Jewish propghanda to these ends. There will be no U.S. response from this invasion because we did the similar stupid shit in Iraq, but Iraq was still different for many reasons. Still prickheads like Leondra and Al should realize that over 2/3rds of the Western world don’t agree with American policy abroad. This will be made clear when we elect and Democrat to office who supports withdrawing from Iraq with in 16 months. Also Chavez is a rather weak dictator who has a loud mouth. He has absolutely no military might that would withstand a week of U.S. airstrikes. Most Americans ust ignore his comments altogether. Noone has “clean hands” in this affair. Georgia should not have invaded, but Russia has responded with disproportionate action. The U.S. can not get involved in this war and to tell the truth most Americans don’t even care. At the end of this war nothing will have changed, but a deeper hatred between the West and East.

  36. In a hundred years, people of that region will be living in a European Union style political and economic arrangement, free to move across “borders” and speak their own languages, and practice their own culture and will wonder what on earth their ancestors shed so much blood for – just like presumably West Europeans of today wonder what it was all about.

  37. I am trying to figure out who started this. I’m surfing the net reading analyses but cant make up my mind on how this conflict began. The russian resources are one sided, CNN of course is too.. On one hand, Saakashvili would be the most stupid man on earth to believe that even if Roki tunnel could be blocked, Russians would not attack from the air. And to believe that the west would help in any way other than tv bla bla bla. on the other hand, the Russians kept more or less quiet since 90es when Georgians lost south ossetia, why would they start now? i am really confused. in any case, this probably looks more like a gamble from Georgian side, but russian response is really more than it should have been. Russians started off by bombing only military bases, which i would understand, but then they moved on to bombing residential areas (maybe mistake, maybe not). in any case, when i read above DF Coye’s comment:”Breakaway regions: let them break away! The South Ossetians should have the same right to have their own country that Georgia had when it became a republic. Same with Abkhazia, the Basque Region, Kosovo” i had this idea: yes, you are right, why not allow abkhazia and ossetia to vote for their independence? but in this case, all the misplaced people who fled from Abkhazia and Ossetia in nineties, (around 300K) should return there and cast their vote!! and believe me, they would outnumber the people who live there now! that would be the most appropriate resolving of the both breakaway regions. why is not that possible?

  38. Pingback: War in the Caucasus « Thoughts Of A Conservative Christian

  39. For Russia that has occured in South Ossetia on August, 8th when Georgia has attacked Ossetia, the same, that for the USA towers-twins on September, 11th. Quantity of victims respective. Saakashvili the rockets has killed more than 1500 peace inhabitants, and CITIZENS of the Russian Federation! That I see now is there would be the same as though after tragedy on September, 11th 2001, any country has supported Аль-Каиду and in support Ben Ladanu has sent 18 military ships in the help to terrorists. Be on a place of the Russian Federation the USA, for a long time Saakashvili would be hung up. And the USA supported all this time ” Caucasian Ben Ladana “.

    I.e. that now I see me in mass-media of the Europe horrifies – Russia has attacked small Georgia… That would be if Russian tanks have not entered into Ossetia, that, not having protected the peace population, probably, defenders of human rights does not interest any more, only as Russian kill everything, bears fat… Well it in fact, you see, is immoral also it so awfully. Has still seen a photo with the signature ” Russian attack to Georgia ” – why do not publish a photo as the Georgian militarians have alive burnt the house with children and old men about whom Putin and as they killed peacemakers spoke.

    Georgia has attacked Ossetia, instead of the Russian Federation to Georgia – in mass-media is even huge quantity links to references of the European editions which refer to ” information war “. Western mass-media are not absolutely pure, give not the true information, in particular the Air Forces, therefore it is not necessary to accuse the Russian Federation of all sins at once. The picture which was drawn with the western mass-media, essentially differed from the validity.

    I do not work to the Kremlin, or on Putin as many European mass-media can think. I the simple inhabitant, and this my opinion. Sorry for my English.

    Для России то, что произошло в Южной Осетии 8 августа, когда Грузия напала на Осетию, то же самое, что для США башни-близнецы 11 сентября. Количество жертв соответственные. Саакашвили своими ракетами убил более 1500 мирных жителей, причем ГРАЖДАН РФ! Что я вижу сейчас – это было бы то же самое, как если бы после трагедии 11 сентября 2001, какая-либо страна поддержала Аль-Каиду и в поддержку Бен Ладану отправила 18 военных кораблей в помощь террористам. Будь на месте РФ США, давно бы Саакашвили был повешен. А США всё это время поддерживали “Кавказского Бен Ладана”.

    Т.е. то, что сейчас я вижу в масс-медия европы меня ужасает – Россия напала на маленькую Грузию… что бы было если бы русские танки не вошли в Осетию, тем самым, не защитив мирное население, видимо, защитников прав человека уже не интересует, только как русские убивают всех, медведи жирные… Ну это ведь, согласитесь, аморально и это так ужасно.

    Ещё увидел фотографию с подписью “Русская атака на Грузию” – почему же не публикуют фотографии, как грузинские военные заживо спалили дом с детьми и стариками, о которых говорил Путин, и как они убивали миротворцев.

    Именно Грузия напала на Осетию, а не РФ на Грузию – в масс-медия есть даже огромное кол-во ссылок на ссылки европейских изданий, которые называются “информационная война”. Западные масс-медия не совсем чисты, дают не верную информацию, в особенности ВВС, поэтому не стоит сразу обвинять РФ во всех грехах. Картина, которую нарисовали западные СМИ, существенно отличалась от действительности.

    Я не работаю на Кремль, или на Путина, как многие европейские масс-медия могут подумать. Я простой обыватель, и это моё мнение.

  40. See the following account of victims. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7586438.stm

    Although it is sad to see so much bloodshed, the initiator, aggressor is Georgia. Now, she is crying…if you know war is painful, why start killing innocent victims in S. Oss? Every pain you Georgians suffer, you must think of the pain you inflicted on others.

  41. Georgia Did Not Start the War: The Russians did!

    Since beginning of August 2008, the Russian “Peacekeepers” together with Ossetian illegal militia have been ethnically cleansing Georgian villages and killing innocent civilians! Just think about this…

    Many experts and diplomats wondered whether the Russian government is sick with xenophobia and with the nostalgia of “good, old Soviet Union” is trying to revive the forgotten empire. Or maybe they are just playing a very stupid game that will have extremely severe consequences to the future of Russia and its citizens.

    It is not a new fact that the people from Caucasus republics are constantly being discriminated in Russia, are targets of Russian neo-Nazi groups and live second class citizens lives. The Russian government never tried to understand the mentality, culture and social norms of the people from the Caucasus region. Throughout history the Russian empire or the Soviets or Putin’s regime have been applying one rule to the Caucasus region in order to maintain control over it: divide and conquer! Putin successfully fueled ethnic tensions between various Caucasus nationalities, so they all had to look up to the Russians for help and the roots of this policy date back to Tsar’s Russian Empire, when the Russians were only able to take control over Caucasus with the help of Caucasus nations, primarily the Georgians. The Georgians thought they were doing a favor and Tsar would leave them alone to govern their own lives, but the Georgians were wrong.

    After the collapse of Soviet Union the Russian government successfully fueled ethnic tensions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Ossetians, Georgians and Abkhazians, Ingushis and Ossetians, etc… This was the only strategy and the only game the Russian rulers played by: fuel hatred, divide the territories, resettle and arm the people so there will be no peace until the Russian soldier places his foot in the region. And of course, the Russian army is known for their outstanding performance in “peacekeeping” missions that have carried out, being involved in genocide, ethnic cleansing (Georgians in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Chechen civilians), rape, murder, torture and the list goes on. At the end it seems that the Russian “peacekeeping mission” is not that peaceful at all.

    It is evident that the Russian political system always been in shape of a Pyramid, where all the political and economic control spheres of country is divided between a leader (Czar, or Secretary General or Prime Minister) at the top, who has a direct control and right hand support of secret service at one angle and military at the other. This is the heart of the Russian political life and everything else develops around it. With a strong propaganda machine, complete control over Russian citizens is assured, as well as “democratic” elections where one candidate always receives the vast majority (if not all) of the votes and there never seems to be opposition to the candidate. And what about the President Medvedev? He is just another toy in Putin’s closet…

    Putin decided to send a strong signal to the world and wished to overthrow the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, but he failed. He strongly believes that the fate of the Georgian people depends on his wishes and is determine to shape the borders of another sovereign country. This move directly threatens the World Order established after World War II. The current World Order is not perfect, but so far, with its deficiencies it is working.

    After the brief war with Georgia, the Russian government tried to justify its move by saying that the Georgians started the war. Here is the first lie! The Georgian government has been saying since beginning of August 2008 that the situation in South Ossetia is escalating and the Russian “peacekeepers” are staging provocations together with illegal armed forces of South Ossetian separatist regime. They started killing Georgian police officers and firing artillery shells at the Georgian villages located in South Ossetia, but the world was preoccupied with getting ready for the opening ceremony of Beijing 2008 Olympics.

    When the Georgian government officials told the Europeans in Brussels that we were at the brink of war, the Europeans politely warned the Georgians not to use the word “war” in the city of Brussels, because they do not like the word “war.” It seems that old Europe is getting older each day and with the age, because numerous warnings and cries by the Georgian officials fell on the deaf ears of old Europe. Never mind the fact that it took Hitler conquering Poland and Czechoslovakia, before the Western Europe realized this was a war.

    And what about the Americans? The American society is in the midst of elections, the Democrats want to see Europe take more responsibility for security in Caucasus region, the Republicans are divided and worried about gay marriage and abortion rights… The friends of Georgia in new Europe are trying everything to force the old Europe take harsher approach towards Russia, but Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.
    Giving up on a young democracy does not seem plausible for the Europeans, but the old Europe is scared of the new Russian bear. The new Russia is controlled by a xenophobic psychopath who has decided to break all the rules of the game, in order to change those rules. And the question comes: how can you stop a bully? Everyone can keep condemning the Russian government, but that paper will wind up in Putin’s toilet again… The only way to stop a bully is bully up against the bully – simple rule of life.

    With the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Russian government has proven the world that they will violate international laws whenever they feel like it and they will use aggression in the name of peace as they did in Prague 1968. If the world would not stand up for Georgia, who will be the next prey of the hungry Russian bear? Maybe Ukraine? Or Moldova? Or who knows… The Russian government is as unpredictable as the weather in England…

    The Georgian people are united and stand united, we have survived the onslaught by Mongols, Persians, Arabs, Turk-Seljuks throughout the history and we have still survived and we are not scared of the Russian bear either.

    Just last question to Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin, if you are so concerned about the freedom of small minorities, why not recognize the independence of Chechnya? Then Daghestan? Then Ingushetia? And then all the other autonomous republics where the citizens do not even speak Russian? Think about that at first and then lets discuss the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, after 300,000 Georgian refugees return to their own homes.
    And to my fellow Abkhazian and South Ossetian brothers and sisters. Yes, there will be dancing and celebration in Sokhumi and Tskinvali. Yes, you will be smiling and waving flags – Georgian flags of course….

  42. I meant ‘starting the war’ by send troops and tanks on civilians. This was admitted by the Georgean president on Newsweek. Are you people stupid? I am not referring to Russian provocation, like treating Georgeans badly. If your neighbour treat you badly, can you justify taking a machine gun and shooting at them?

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