Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Heat is on in the Caucasus (update)

Both parties disagree which side upset the status quo: Russia says it is protecting the ninety percent of the South Ossetian population who hold Russian citizenship; Georgian President Shaakashvili claims Georgia has been attacked for its pro Western position. There's no contradiction here thanks to a fateful error made elsewhere by the West. At this point the plot thickens, as a mirror image of Kosovo's secession from Serbia emerges.

Circumstantial evidence or double bluff, Georgia is only now repatriating its troops from Iraq, after the fact.

And what should we read in the fact that both Vladimir Putin and George Bush were attending the Beijing Olympics when the news broke?

Meantime reports have it the fighting has spread to nearby Abghazia, another breakaway region attacking Georgia.

- Caption: ethnic map of the Causasus -

President Saakashvili said 150 Russian tanks invaded Georgian territory on 7th August at 23:50 hours. He claims the Russians have been holding military manoeuvres for months, openly discussing the invasion with the protection of the Russian citizens in S. Ossetia as a pretext. Georgia for its part sought to preserve its territory, but apparently overplayed its hand.

But it is also a fact, that Russia has an entire history of waging war on civilian populations. Its style of warfare is to simply obliterate the will to fight. Residential complexes are indiscriminately bombed - no sensitivities over collateral damage there. Already the burnt out, Soviet style apartment buildings resemble scenes from the Chechen wars (first and second) (image: Grozny).

The Russian Black Sea fleet is preparing a blockade of Georgian ports.

A handful of orthodox thinkers have been warning for years of the dangers of Kosovo breaking away from Serbia, to no avail: how can any number of separatist actions be avoided with that precedent in mind? Ironically it was only Russia that supported Serbia in seeking to preserve its territorial integrity, but the postmodern tranzies wanted Kosovo's independence. Today in Georgia the shoe is on the other foot with Russia in the role of NATO, playing the humanitarian card. But no one is prepared as yet to interpret the Ossetian bit for independence as a 'Lockean revolution.'

CNN just reported that Vladimir Putin has arrived in the region. Just how that will influence the situation will be seen in the coming hours.

Meantime, here's some background information by George Gvishiani:

Georgia and the South Caucasus: "BACKGROUND: Russian Invasion of Georgia"

Please distribute to all relevant platforms on the Facebook or on other websites this statement of the Georgian Embassy in the US (they are my friends). File is attached and main text is in this e-mail below. I've just talked with Government in Tbilisi and with our Embassy here ... Almost all Gov. sites are down. Here is the text. Russian planes are hitting Poti where we have main communication points. (...) During the last 24 hours military forces of the Russian Federation in coordination with the Russian-supported and supplied South Ossetian militia launched combined air and ground attacks on Georgian territory. (...)

The Danger Room has another perspective:

Danger Room: "Did the U.S. Prep Georgia for War with Russia?"

Georgia and Russia are careening towards war. And the U.S. isn't exactly a detached observer in the fight. The American military has been training and equipping Georgian troops for years. The news thus far: Georgia, which has been locked in a drone war over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia, has launched an offensive to reclaim another breakaway territory, South Ossetia. Latest reports indicate that Georgian forces are laying siege to Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. And Russia, which has backed the separatists, is sending in the tanks. So why should we care? Oh, just the prospect of a larger regional war that could drag in Russia – and involve the United States as well. When I last visited South Ossetia, Georgian troops manned a checkpoint outside Tskhinvali -- decked out in surplus U.S. Army uniforms and new body armor. (...) One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. “We’re giving them the knife,” he said. “Will they use it?” >>>

Update: Here are two links on the oil connection:

SF Gate: "Georgia's oil pipeline is key to U.S. support"

(...) The pipeline that crosses Georgia can pump slightly more than 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, or more than 1 percent of the world's daily crude output. The 1,100-mile pipeline carries oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea fields, estimated to hold the world's third-largest reserves. Its potential vulnerability was already in the spotlight after it was sabotaged this week, apparently by Kurdish separatists. Most of the oil is bound for Western Europe, where gas prices are even higher than the $4 and more a gallon that U.S. consumers are now paying. With only so much oil to go around, what the pipeline carries affects prices elsewhere. The United States also hopes it will be a model for other development projects that could have a more direct effect on the U.S. market. (...) >>>

Reuters: "Russian jets targeted major oil pipeline-Georgia"

Russian fighter jets targeted the the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline which carries oil to the West from Asia but missed, Georgia's Economic Development Minister Ekaterina Sharashidze said on Saturday. (...) There have been no independent verifications (...) >>>


Pajamas: "Russia’s Pathetic Defenders"

(...) Let’s be clear: What happened in Georgia is that Russia gave diplomatic recognition and support to a breakaway region of another country without international agreement, massed troops on the border, repeatedly violated Georgian airspace, shot down a Georgian aircraft, fired missiles into Georgian territory, and attempted to assassinate a major Georgian official in the region. Then it goaded the region into launching an attack on Georgian forces, and when Georgia finally responded with a limited strike against the region, after more than a year of provocation during which Georgia responded only with diplomatic protests, Russian invaded and seized the region, including the use of strategic bombers that destroyed civilian apartment blocks. Now, the breakaway region is engaged in massive attacks on Georgian civilians, in the manner of a pogrom. (...) >>>

- Filed on Articles in "Caucasian Heat" -


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, as you say, the timing is most interesting.

Wolfie said...

The propaganda machine is in full motion on the BBC/Sky - so what is the truth? Where do you draw your line Cassandra?

Cassandra said...

Hi Wolfie, thanks. Well, if you support the sovereignty of countries the Georgians are right in what they are doing. But the West got it wrong in Kosovo and is therefore unable to defend the Georgian actions. We have a US embassador at the UN saying that S. Ossetia is Georgian territory (which is true) but is sounds hollow. Kosovo was Serbian but Serbia was prevented from defending itself. This was a time bomb waiting to happen. Many more are to come. Abghazia next.

Wolfie said...

Hi Cassandra, just letting you know I've posted my own take on events.

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