Saturday, August 09, 2008

Georgia: my take from today's London "Times"

August 9, 2008

How Georgia fell into its enemies' trap

The fighting in the Caucasus should be a deafening wake-up call to the West

When is a victory not a victory? When it dents your country's image, scares your allies and gets you into an unwinnable war with a hugely stronger opponent.

That is the bleak outlook for Georgia this weekend, after what initially looked like a quick military win against the separatist regime in South Ossetia. Georgia's attack followed weeks of escalating provocations, including hours of heavy shelling by the Russian-backed breakaway province and signs of large-scale Russian reinforcement.

Thanks to American military aid, Georgia's 18,000-strong armed forces are the best-trained and equipped fighting force in the Caucasus. But it is one thing for them to defeat the raggle-taggle militia of a tinpot place like South Ossetia (population 70,000). It is another for a country of less than five million people to take on Russia (population 142 million). Now the Kremlin is reacting strongly. Russian warplanes are reportedly striking targets in Georgia. Reinforcements are pouring in. And the Kremlin's mighty propaganda machine is lumbering into action while a cyber-attack appears to have crippled Georgia's websites.

For it is the information war, not what happens on the ground, that will determine the victor of this conflict. Russia is portraying Georgia as the aggressor, an intransigent and unpredictable country determined to restore its supremacy over an unwilling province by means of military force and “ethnic cleansing”. Such a country, clearly, would be unfit to receive Western support.

That seems to be working. European leaders have long been dubious about Mikhail Saakashvili, a charismatic US-educated lawyer who stormed to power in the Rose Revolution of 2005. Where the fans of the Georgian President see charm and brains, his critics - such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel - see a dangerously headstrong and erratic leader. A crackdown on the Opposition in November, bullying of the media and instances of abuse of power among senior officials have allowed detractors to draw uncomfortable parallels between Georgia and Vladimir Putin's Russia.

These are misplaced: Georgia is not perfect, but it is not a dictatorship. Its leadership does not peddle a phoney ideology, such as the Kremlin's mishmash of Soviet nostalgia and tsarist-era chauvinism. It has a thriving civil society, vocal opposition and ardently wants to be in the EU and Nato. Moral grounds alone would be enough reason for supporting it against Russian aggression.

But on top of that is a vital Western interest. The biggest threat Russia poses to Europe is the Kremlin's monopoly on energy export routes to the West from the former Soviet Union. The one breach in that is the oil and gas pipeline that leads from energy-rich Azerbaijan to Turkey, across Georgia. If Georgia falls, Europe's hopes of energy independence from Russia fall too.

Yet the West is both divided and distracted. America will be furious if reports turn out to be true that Russian warplanes bombed an airfield where Pentagon military advisers are based. But a lame-duck president is not going to risk World War Three for Georgia. In Europe, Georgia's allies are mostly small ex-communist states such as Lithuania; heavily outnumbered by those such as Germany that prize their relations with Russia, seemingly, above all else. It seems Russia is ready to hit back hard, in the hope of squashing the West's pestilential protégé.

In short, it looks more and more as though Georgia has fallen in to its enemies' trap. The script went like this: first mount unbearable provocations, then wait for a response, and finally reply with overwhelming military force and diplomatic humiliation. The idea that Georgia sought this war is nonsense. Recovering control of South Ossetia from its Russian-backed rulers has been a top priority for the Georgian authorities for years. But nobody thought it would come by military means. The Georgian strategy had been to use soft power, underlining its prosperity and the corruption-

busting successes of Mr Saakashvili's rule. That contrasted sharply with the isolation and cronyism of South Ossetia, which survives only on smuggling and Russian subsidies.

Now that strategy is in ruins. As things stand, Georgia will be fighting not to regain South Ossetia or even to deter aggression, but to survive. It is hard to see any good outcome. Georgia has failed to win a quick victory: crucially, it failed to block the Roki tunnel under the Caucasus mountains, normally used as a smugglers' highway, but now the route for Russian heavy weapons that Georgia cannot counter for long. Worse, the authorities in Abkhazia, Georgia's other breakaway region, may mount an attack, either on its own or with Russian help.

The fighting should be a deafening wake-up call to the West. Our fatal mistake was made at the Nato summit in Bucharest in April, when Georgia's attempt to get a clear path to membership of the alliance was rebuffed. Mr Saakashvili warned us then that Russia would take advantage of any display of Western weakness or indecision. And it has.

Edward Lucas is the author of The New Cold War (Bloomsbury)


Unknown said...

very misleading statements and very misleading overview. Saakashvili is no "carismzatic, US-educated lawyer" He spent one semester at Columbia, and appears to be mentally unstable when he speaks publicly. Know your basic facts, before making far-reaching conclusions and spreading them around. This war started with Georgians shelling the hell out of the entire city of Tskhinvali, overnight. Full stop.

Greig said...

The International Crisis Group's December 2007 analysis of Georgia is quite instructive re Georgia's thriving civil society and, er, "prosperity and the corruption-
busting successes of Mr Saakashvili's rule" - see:

Kristopher said...

Sakaashvili may be a weirdo, but the comment is irrelevant.

The big glaring incongruity here is that Russia has mounted an attack on a sovereign country, Georgia, which did not engage Russia, did not provoke Russia, and does not have any claims on Russian territory. Nor does Georgia pose a danger to Russia or the world.

There is no legal precedent for such an action and if is accepted as a legal precedent, well, that does not bode very well for stability anywhere. In fact, "hell in a handbasket" comes to mind.

Anton said...

The Georgian army is carrying out a genocide of Ossetian people, so far 2000 have died 34.000 dislocated, continous reports of executions and murder, and the only thing the international community are talking about is Russian aggression.

Cynical and disguisting, the primary concern should be the lives of those people.

S.Ossetia has been warning about a Georgian attack for the last two months, they have evacuated children last week, unfortunately many are still stuck in the city. The 2000 thousand Russian peacekeepers were attacked by an army 12 times the contingent, the provocation, the "trap" you are talking about is stupid nonsense.

It was the Georgian Army who destroyed an entire city.

It is a shame that this blog has accepted this lie as its point of view on this matter.

On the other hand, one may only applaud to the gentlemen in Washington, they have achieved a war between the two countries, and now they are enjoying the spectacle.

Kristopher said...

Judging from which Internet sites are up and which are down, Anton, it looks like Tbilisi has been utterly destroyed, but Tskhinkvali is intact and has lost only the second letter 'i' in its name. Sorry.

I hear you on genocide, though. When South Ossetia is independent but there is a snag with reunification, I'm sure the reason will likewise be that the South Ossetians are carrying out genocide against the Russians in North Ossetia.

In my own life, I use the "genocide" argument in supermarkets, too. Aren't rising food prices a form of genocide against my family? I think so.

If you put all of the sources together, the story is that Russia is carrying out a genocide of the Georgians, the Georgians are carrying out a genocide of the Ossetians, and maybe the Ossetians are carrying out a genocide of the Russians. It's rather elegant.

But I would say the Russians are going to be the ones who are going to get blamed for this in the end, because the Georgians and Ossetians are going to run out before they dispatch the last Russian. There's simply more Russians. That's the problem with these circular arguments (and shooting circles). You actually don't want to side with the bigger team.

Urmo said...

Kristopher: and those darn expensive bananas are true fascists!

I have to agree with the opinion that Russians weren't too surprised by the Georgian response after rebels intensified their attacks about a week ago. Russian media seemed to increase the propaganda levels (can u believe that) several days before Georgian forces started to fight back so I can only guess current events were part of the bigger plan set to motion after Kosovo events. Well see what happens in the days to come, Georgia has pulled it's forces (that were most certainly smaller than 24 000 men as Anton claims) from Ossetia. If Russia continues the agression, let's see what another lame excuse comes out from Mr. Lavrov mouth.

Giustino said...

Well, the Georgian objective -- to reintegrate South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Georgia -- appears to have failed.

The Russian objective -- to use the conflict to justify the full annexation of these provinces -- remains to be achieved as we look to a ceasefire.

The Western response -- to urge both sides to return to the status quo -- seems half-baked, but the only not belligerent solution.

Georgia has squandered a lot of its political capital, not to mention military resources.

Russia has lost its rhetorical edge with regards to its "respect the territorial integrity of sovereign countries" platform.

The West looks weak, distracted, and only able to offer up words.

The question is; can anybody win from this?

Anton said...

Whatever you just said now, makes absolutely no sense, I'm not sure that you clearly understand the actual situation.

Russian aggression, God you people are very stupid, aren't you. Ossetians aren't dispatching Russians, half of the S.Ossetian population escaped to Russia and are situated in hospitals and are receiveing all the necessary help.

It's unfortuante how some people are clearly clueless of the events in S.Ossetia.

The Georgian army initiated an artillery attack on Tskhinval, then occupied it city consequently, ingoring all the previous treaties, agreements etc. that is aggression.

The Russian army entered to restore the status quo and stop the massacre of the civilian population.

none of the western channels actually show the destroyed cities and villages of s.ossetia, they immediately blame Russia, how typical of western double standards.

Kristopher said...

Something's screwy with what you're saying, too, Anton.

North Ossetia is occupied by Russia. Speaking as someone with an Eastern European background here, I'm sure that situation isn't making any Ossetians very happy!

I sense from your second paragraph you are a misunderstood expert, but with all due respect, sir, isn't what you are saying akin to "the South Korean villagers fled the (evil) Americans to Red China, where they are being cared for"?

In any case, why would the Russian government intern half the South Ossetian population in "hospitals" if they were able to escape South Ossetia under their own power?

That sounds sinister.

Giustino said...

The Russian army entered to restore the status quo and stop the massacre of the civilian population.

The status quo is bombing civilians in Poti and Gori? That's not exactly "peace keeping."

Bäckman said...

You're all wrong.

- The Russians have co-opted the Chechens to carry out the genocide against the Georgians.

- The half of the South Ossetian population is not in a Russian hospital but in a factory receiving fentamyl.

- The villages in South Ossetia were destroyed by international terrorist elements -- the same ones involved in North Ossetia a couple years ago disguised as Chechens.

- The Georgians did not attack South Ossetia. They were in transit in order to attack Russia and install Sakaashvili as the new dictator in Moscow.

- Medvedev is in on the Georgian Moscow coup plot, which is why Putin has re-taken the helm.

- Russia cares about Ossetians and will not let them down.

Kristopher is a raving idiot.

Urmo said...

One question to Edward - is the fact that NATO showed little excitement over Georgia joining NATO bigger mistake than EU not sending real peacekeepers to Ossetia in 2006 ?

Anonymous said...

The problem with a place like Tskhinvali is that it is hard to tell whether it has been bombed or not. Soviet-era housing does not age well. With some nice camera work, I'm sure you could have filmed The Srebrenica Story there - last month.

Anton: I would welcome objective evidence; I really would. But I give the Georgians the benefit of the doubt; I see them taking out a marketplace and installations, but their issue is not really with the people of South Ossetia and their army as far as armies go, is professional.

The best revenge is a life lived well, and that is what the Georgians as a people have been doing for many years now, along with many other nations at the rim of the FSU...

Anton said...

Russian intervention began after georgian artillery attacks on Tskhivali, which left the city destroyed, unforunately none of the Western channels broadcast it.

34.000 S.Ossetians have left to North Ossetia, as Georgian troops have entered Tskhinvali.

Attacks on Tbilisi were indeed very limited, most of this information is propoganda war carried out by Saakashvili. Only military objects were bombed, as well as in the villages Gori and Poti.

I know a family who live in North Ossetia- vladikavkas to be percise, and as they have told me today, the city is a one big hospital, literally thousands of South Ossetians, women, children, elderly.

Once again, all of the mass media in western europe show very little coverage of it, and most of it is biased against Russia, as it always is.

It is waste of time discussing the issue with you people, however you have seen the hours worth of newscoverage of the destroyed city, with burning tanks, pieces of debris and bodies in the streets, you will be convienced that the Georgian army carried out a genocide.

Anonymous said...

Georgian troops have entered Tskhinvali.

Actually, Georgian troops have left South Ossetia. That the Russians have confirmed as well, though they question the motive.

Only military objects were bombed, as well as in the villages Gori and Poti.

Gori has 50,000 people which I believe makes it bigger than Tskhinvali. Besides, how is "only military targets as well in the villages" any absolution of guilt for Russia? That's awful.

It is waste of time discussing the issue with you people,

I don't see it that way. I'd love to see you persuade someone, but you need to get the basic facts correct. There is bad blood all around in the Caucasus, but Russia certainly takes the cake as far as brutality is concerned. What we have seen here is not a responsible action by Russia. Good luck!

Giustino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giustino said...


Just as one might be quick to remind themselves that Georgia is not Russia -- and therefore theoretically must peacefully accept secession, which Russia did not do in Chechnya -- Russia should be reminded that it is not the United States.

By trying to turn up the heat on Georgia and press for regime change, it only creates more trouble down the road between itself and the US and the EU.

If Saakashvili's fundamental error was the idea that he could count on strong western support, Putin's fundamental error is thinking that the West is only comprised of Schroeders waiting to be paid off.

KT said...

please sign and distribute petition to peace

Anton said...

Georgia started the conflict, by invading Ossetia, ignoring all the previous agreements...what Russia has done, is driven out Georgian troops out of Tskhinvali, and restored the status quo. That is the chronology of the events, however due to anti-russian prejudices in the international community the West percieves this as Russia battering good democratic Georgia, which is far from reality.

As for the bombing of Gori and Poti, the two are a huge piece of Georgian propoganda: military objects were bombed, and Georgian authorities simply picked the names of the two nearest villages and began claiming that their boarder town are being "destroyed".
The reason for the bombing is that Georgian troops continiously attack the Russian troops now situated in S.Ossetia. The objects bombed, are the ones heading, or producing towards an attack on S.Ossetia.

My personal opinion, is that Mr.Saakashvili was hoping for a quick blitzkrieg invasion of S.Ossetia, afterall its army has been trained, equiped by US,NATO,Israel and even Ukraine, 10% of Georgia's GDP was spent for military purpose for the last 4 years, it all suggests that Tbilisi has been planning this war ahead. A quick, convinient victory in Ossetia, with Georgian flags, and some paid Ossetians to greet the "liberators",however he has failed to achieve a quick victory and now there are consequences.

The most disturbing thing, for me personally is that, how very quickly the benevolent western nations have ignored the killing in Ossetia, they close their eyes on the fact that S.Ossetia is the central issue. Of course it is very difficult for the West to criticise Saakashvili, afterall they have supported the regime and literally re-created his armed forces, the very armed forces, who have used 'Grad' artillery units and Su-25 jets on the unarmed, civilian population of S.Ossetia.

Putin had nothing to do with it, he was in Beijing when the Georgians started bombing.

The so called regime change, is not a technique used by Russia, although widely appreciated by US officials. Nevertheles, the reason why Lavrov and others have suggested that it is impossible to have a dialogue with Saakshivili is, becase the man is an unstable psychopath, one moment we hear him offering a cease-fire, then few instants later he is mobilising the country to fight against the hated Russia. He has already broken his promise not to use force to resolve problems of consitutional unity. He is a liar, and american puppet for the matter of fact.

I suggest you read the latest Telegraph article on this issue, it is one of the view sensible ones out there.

Raskat said...

Giustino said...


The reason why the West doesn't consume the media that informs your view is because it is state-owned propaganda.

I am pleased that there are a diversity of opinions in the West on this issue. Most of the coverage has been pretty good, if a little late.

Are there any pro-Georgian opinions in Pravda, ITAR-TASS, Russia Today, RIA Novosti, though? Nyet!

John Menzies said...

I am South Ossetian and I feel Russia as well as Georgia should butt out of my country. Russia does not come in peace. Don't be fooled. Anton speaks for Russia and colonists, not me.

globus said...

That's how I feel, Ironman. You're quite right. Both sides are full of it, but there are people in between who I'm sure don't care for either and just want to be left alone.

Anton said...

The Georgian opearation was called "Clear/n Field"(rough translation), the summarasises the actions of Saakashivili.

Ironman I share your concerns, for this is a tragedy for the Ossetian people, however if Russians were to leave Saakashvili would finish his business with the people of South Ossetia.

So? said...

This should dispel any notion that Russia was "itching to escalate":
If the damn russkies aren't calculating villains, then they are bumbling fools. But perhaps the truth is a lot simpler. Saaka acted impulsively, as he is wont to do, and the Russians simply reacted... belatedly, but too fast and hard for Saaka nonetheless.

But of course, the Russians are always in the wrong.

sols said...


"As I said, the Commando battalion was very disciplined and well led, but they were still equipped with older soviet era weapons (And they did have quite few female hotties). As for the other units, I wouldn't trust them to run the fry station at McDonalds. Their officers were garbage, and hey had no NCOs to speak of. They seemed more interested in what they could beg, barrow or steal from the US. The only reason many of them were here was because they get a supplement to their pay from the US. Most of the officers seemed to out to fatten their own wallets on the backs of their troops.

They need to make clean sweep of the officer corps, actually form a NCO corps, and enforce discipline in the units (that doesn't mean you beat your soldiers, but lead by example). It's a little hard when your officers treat their troops like peasants. They'll never show them any respect, you can't lead by fear alone.

At a minimum, it'll take them five years to weed out the old guard, and start replacing them with a better trained officer corps. If they start now, it'll take five to ten years before they have a seasoned NCO corps within their enlisted ranks, and these guys will be the backbone of any force they field. Until they do, they need to stay as far away from NATO as possible. From what I've seen, if I were the Russians, I wouldn't be worrying about them starting a war, but I would be checking my pockets to see if I still had my wallet, or if the tires were still on my car in the morning."

sols said...

This is really funny: all 4 people in this discussion with open profiles are said to be in Estonia :) That's where Mr. Lucas found lots of fans :)

And they are talking about propaganda - ha-ha-ha :))

I had to spent too much time arguing with Estonian nationalist (and Ukrainians too). The problem is that modern Estonians are brainwashed much more than modern Russians. Estonians (even educated) seriously believe their government propaganda and have really hard time discussing any alternative view or even facts that contradict their brainwashing.

By contrast, many Russians in Russia do not trust everything and are quite cynical.

(Before you start blaming me about Russian propaganda: I didn't live in Russia for a long time - left before Putin came to power and I didn't watch TV - Russian or any other - for even longer).

Check out this: "CNN use footage of Tskhinvali ruins to cover Georgian report"

Giustino said...


I am not Estonian, though, and I am an American. You should not search through my comments for double-speak. I mean exactly what I say.

There is whining, on the part of the pro-Russian segment, that the West is interpreting these events all wrong.

And I am telling you that the reason that it interprets these events this way is because of the closed Russian media space and because of the tone of pro-Moscow rhetoric in simple English-language articles produced in Russia.

Russians complain that the West has not paid enough attention to the destruction of the South Ossetian capital. That the Russians are being blamed and made out to be the villains.

But how many Western journalists were allowed into that city? How many have made it there yet? And if they have, to what extent have they been embedded, so to say, with the Russian forces there? How free would they really be?

The fact that one of the Western journalists was killed in Gori by either mortar fire or stray Russian bombs does not help.

Then there is the rhetoric. Constantly comparing the US, as I wrote above, does not help you. Whining about the US' action in Iraq neglects to mention that that action split the trans-Atlantic alliance and was condemned across Europe and is regretted by most Americans today. Is that really the example you are reaching for? Is that what you want to model yourselves on?

Finally, reading Russian news reports about how this is "just like the Great Patriotic War" is about as nauseating as listening to FOX News in the US tell me that taking Baghdad was like defeating Nazi Germany.

Have you noticed how every bad guy everywhere conveniently becomes "the next Hitler" TM during war time? I remember during the Kosovo War, the American and Serb propaganda was exactly the same. Clinton was Hitler to Belgrade, and Milosevic was Hitler to Washington.

So basically, I am trying to tell you that if you feel the war has been misrepresented in the West, there are reasons for that that go merely beyond the financial interests of the parties involved or their thirst for access to natural resources.

Giustino said...

This is really funny: all 4 people in this discussion with open profiles are said to be in Estonia :) That's where Mr. Lucas found lots of fans :)

Estonians are Internet addicts. I think I have acquired this addiction by living here as well. :)

Anton said...

The Internet Nation, you can pretty much get wi-fi signal in a public toilet..its great))

Unknown said...

Gavin says: "the problem with a place like Tskhinvali is that it is hard to tell whether it has been bombed or not. Soviet-era housing does not age well."

That kind of shows how shoddy Soviet housing construction is. And it is. There are thousands of forests of massive prefab apartment blocks, numbing in their monotony duplicated in cities all across the FSU. You may say, gavin, it doesn't age well, but it is also true that the housing ages instantly in the blink of an eye as if it's never been young. So it's really hard to make out weather it's been boomed or not; it looks the same. Soviet architecture, ladies and gentlemen.

Gavin says: "the best revenge is a life lived well, and that is what the Georgians as a people have been doing for many years now, along with many other nations at the rim of the FSU..."

It's good to live a prosperous life, but you have to have, say, a discipline, motivation, be honest and know your talents. During the Soviet gawk over the soil, a lot of damage has been done in peoples' mind. Commies sought to wean folks off of thinking so they would threat them as animals. And today we are struggling in terms of values. I, myself, having been grown up in Lithuania, had to revalue my life - took me a while to get educated and change my attitude. I think the best revenge in my opinion is to get educated and raise the level of consciousness. Once you have a little frame of reference you will never buy into the Russian system and that means you will marginalize it. The key is that this is a fair revenge and by doing that you simply live your own life, you fight your own culture, not the whole land of different cultures as it was in the Soviet Union (actually there were little fight and no motivation to do anything). And that's devastating to Russia. Look at things like birth rate and death rate in Russia. In a few decades there will be no population in Russia, and that means no military? You see, that's the revenge. That's why Russia wants to dominate and build the new Soviet Union.

Education, I think, is a key revenge and it is a fair shot.

Unknown said...

I also wanted to quote George Friedman; it might help some in one way or another.

George Friedman says: "Putin did not want to re-establish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re-establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union region. To accomplish that, he had to do two things. First, he had to re-establish the credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in the context of its region. Second, he had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power. He did not want to confront NATO directly, but he did want to confront and defeat a power that was closely aligned with the United States, had U.S. support, aid and advisers and was widely seen as being under American protection. Georgia was the perfect choice.
By invading Georgia as Russia did (competently if not brilliantly), Putin re-established the credibility of the Russian army. But far more importantly, by doing this Putin revealed an open secret: While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value. This lesson is not for American consumption. It is something that, from the Russian point of view, the Ukrainians, the Balts and the Central Asians need to digest. Indeed, it is a lesson Putin wants to transmit to Poland and the Czech Republic as well. The United States wants to place ballistic missile defence installations in those countries, and the Russians want them to understand that allowing this to happen increases their risk, not their security."

I thought this quote might benefit anton, for his comments represent the same point of view in almost all his comments; partially every comment starts with 'Georgia is an aggressor...'

Anton said...

Appreciate your concerns, what will benefit me, however, is if you will appreciate my personal opinion.

I believe Russia did the absolutely right thing in this situation. So you are saying Russia started the conflict by bombing 2000 of its citizens ? If you are suggesting Russia was planning this ahead, its military in the region was simply not ready for such a conflict.
I will admit, that Russia won this conventional war, however it is losing the information war, for as too many of you are falling for lies of conspiracy.

Kaisa said...

I don't like calling people names on the internet but I have to say that anton shows where the saying "A good education never spoiled an idiot" comes from and therefore I do not share your optimism about education, Sunking....

Of course he is right to think what he does. Just like he is right to not answer giustino's perfectly justified questions "What is happening to the people who are under the rubble in Thsinashvili?" "Why isn't Russia letting ANY Western humanitarian organisations into Tshinasvili or the local villages? The answer is of course very cynical - they simply do not have the bodies yet that they need in the coming days to back up their shouts of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide".... :(

Joseph B Cryer said...

Edward with all due respect I have to disagree with the tone of this article.

I do not believe you can portray Russia as the “bad guy” in this conflict.

My recommendation would be for President Saakashvili to step aside (ASAP) and let the acting Prime Minister Vladimir "Lado" Gurgenidze assume control of Georgia.

Prime Minister Gurgenidze has the qualifications that (I believe) will be acceptable by all parties as we move forward.

Georgia had no right to invade South Ossetia and kill innocent civilians.

Mr. Saakashvili had obvious “delusions of grandeur” which has lead to this recklessness.

This conflict could have been eventually solved peacefully by semi-rational individuals.

Anonymous said...

This is really funny: all 4 people in this discussion with open profiles are said to be in Estonia :) That's where Mr. Lucas found lots of fans :)

I had changed my location to Estonia in May 2007 in solidarity with Estonia. Thanks for reminding me. I have changed my profile location to Georgia now.

-Gavin in Edinburgh

Bäckman said...

Prime Minister Gurgenidze has the qualifications that (I believe) will be acceptable by all parties as we move forward.

He isn't Russian, though. That is the key qualification where I am concerned, and I would not accept him. I would propose a Georgian president and an ethnic Russian prime minister.

Joseph B Cryer said...

Slavogynist said...

He isn't Russian, though. That is the key qualification where I am concerned, and I would not accept him. I would propose a Georgian president and an ethnic Russian prime minister.

SEE but at least we are making progress in the dialogue.

Either way we are in agreement that Mr. (I no longer use the title President) Saakashvili must leave.

We can work through some of this “Political Correctness” after the fact.

First things first we need to semi-stabilize the environment in the region.

I have a question though? Do Georgians and Russians inter-marry or is that considered taboo?

Anton said...

No need to be rude Kaisa))Everyone is brave like you on the internet.

Rugby School and King's College London, don't accept idiots in the first place.

sols said...

C'mmon people - Western journalists were in Tskhinvali:

P.S. Apparently Internet is slower in some parts of the world :)

Bäckman said...

I am glad you agree.

Can we also agree that a min. of four of the cabinet ministers in next Georgian government should be Russian Russians (not Georgian Russians), the better to reflect changed demographics in town of Gori.

(There should be also one South Ossetian, but no portfolio for her.)

Unknown said...

I think White America first should ask American Indians (virtually annihilated nation) and Blacks on a subject of their supreme rights to judge other nations or label them, also Europe should keep in mind that it produced Hitler, who killed more than 20 million people in the Soviet territory all along and, by the way, Stalin was Georgian!!!
I think many nations, especially big ones have had troubled pages in their histories and maybe if someone really decides to count all of the pages, outcome may turn out to be not in the Western Civilization favor (just a possibility). So, trying to single out, blame for all problems and demonize other nations (Hitler’s, some media as well as Saakashvili’s style) is not an honorable job.
In this particular case, the history of the two nations Ossetia and Georgia has not been rosy before and in 1990-ties in particular, so Russia had stopped their war and it became a so called “frozen” conflict, but the fact that South Osetians has been seeking protection against Georgia remains. To comprehend a complexity of the region one may want to check some short reviews like this or similar.
Also to note, if someone 100% believes and succumbs to most loud, edgy and loaded media reports (read E. Lucas), then such people should also completely trust “get rich in 21 day” or similar adds. So, the point is, if an honest and thinking person really tries to understand other nation’s problems and maybe even help others to do so, then before jumping to conclusions be proactive, educate yourself on both sides of the spectrum (not just black and white) and keep emotions aside.
Having said that, the fact that Georgia had attacked South Ossetia and killed a lot of people has been confirmed, no matter whether someone refuses to believe in that. And it would be unwise to blame Georgians as a nation; I think people and their feelings just got abused by their own reckless politicians. I think Russia played a positive role here and stopped bigger violence, although some emotional people may think otherwise. I think more responsible and honest experts on both sides should be involved to investigate before conclusions are made.

Bäckman said...

educate yourself on both sides of the spectrum (not just black and white) and keep emotions aside.

How can I keep emotions aside? I remember Tskhinval so well; my best days were spent there. Her tree-lined avenues; the rumble of the Metro trains (to think what the tunnels would ultimately be used for!), always suggesting the excitement of a mild temblor; the tang of latakia tobacco mingling with orange peel and spices in the marketplace; my girlfriends on their way to an evening at the Ossetic Russian Friendship Theatre; a day spent in the cool depths of the National Library sipping cardamom coffee. Ah, Tskhinval! I remember looking at you from the hilltops and thinking how distant your charms were to me. Little did I know... Little did any of us know.

Urmo said...

I'm really glad you can vividly remember a metro in Tskhinval. Are you sure you didn't take the wrong pills, comrade?

Kaisa said...

Vladimir, you are right in your restrained tone, however, I do not share your good faith in Russian intentions. Of course it is despicable that Georgians opened fire on targets that had civilians in them. And it was foolish to start this whole thing. I have heard suggestions that Georgia should have tried to evacuate the people from the villages in South Ossetia that were under fire from the rebels (for a couple of years already). It is a good idea in theory but considering the Russian military presence in the area, it would hardly have been possible. The speed and power with which the Russian troops advances leaves no doubt that this was a planned operation (even an opinion piece in Die Zeit said as much). So I am afraid Edward is right - it was a trap and Georgia stepped right into it. As to atrocities committed by the Georgians - there are already reports from international organisations about the numbers of victims shouted out by the Russians being grossly exaggerated. This is not to deny the suffering that has been inflicted on the area by both sides but let's not fool ourselves here. If the Russian ambassador to Latvia hears about the joint statement of the presidents of the Baltic States and Poland and he says "Let's not make foolish statements for which we may have to pay later for a long time" then.... well. This shows a certain attitude, doesn't it? In all this Russia vs West bashing, I keep asking myself - where is the Russian cultural invasion? This goes for you, anton, especially. If the Russians only knew how much Estonians, for example love Russian literature, music and cinema, then the whole interaction between the two nations and the whole world could be taken on a different level. I know how hippy this sounds. But it's just so sad that the current approach, metaphorically is for Russians to come and punch people in the face as an introduction and then be genuinely offended when nobody loves them.

Joseph B Cryer said...

"Hi" from the United States.. :-)

TErr said...

Whatever georgians and their supporters claim is mainly false and overly exhagerated. Maybe we did accidently kill several dozens of civillians and destroyed a couple of non-military structures. It is a logical result of a warfare unleashed by the madman Saakash. It's him the georgians should blame, but not us. Besides that georgian crazy declarations proved itselves hysterical and mostly false.

Russia is always in focus when smbdy. comments on this conflict, while the massive victims of S.O. and georgian violence are ignored and forgotten, as if it did not happen. Russia's humanitarian efforts are ignored too, but there is a perpetual mumbling from the west about some poor georgian victims needing aid, as if other side does not exist. How can we be blamed by those who under the same circumstances bombed Yugoslavia and Iraq? Saak., responsible for massive civilian deaths (at least 1500), but he should be protected, while Saddam was hung for 180 dead peasants 20 years ago, and Slobo and Caradj. where put under tryal.

USSR propaganda machine is a bunch of amateurs in comparison to the key western newsmakers, or better say opinion creators.

You all are good people, but I afraid the brainwash machine is too effective. Thats' the west has the Cold war mentality. You just dont have freedom of information and being overfed by crapmakers.

Urmo said...

The fact you so surely keep repeating the casualty number no other source can confirm (actually, they are considering it most unlikely), smoothly forget to mention the fact that local separatist militias are performing ethnic cleansing by burning Georgian villages and killing its population as we speak clearly shows you are truly unaffected by the Truth Ministry of your country.

I think deep down Russians actually know, what is wrong and right, it is the quilt that drives them to fight their own little information war on the wast cyberspace. Everywhere I look there are Russians commenting and the stories they repeat are almost identical to each other.

TErr said...

Ethnic cleansing and blah-blah-blah - that's a tipycal result of the western fact manipulation. Yes, there were several incidents like that. But these were some maradeurs who came like "volonteers" or "militia" and who were mainly kept aside from the battle in order to avoid things like that. War is war, thugs and maradeurs often follow the troops, and it has nothing to do with ethnic cleansing and e.t.c. Besides that army and police started shooting maradeurs at sight and blocked access to georgian villages.

Urmo said...

These reports originate from several different "western" media agencies you tend to see as one homogeneous entity which they ain't. If different independent sources tell one thing and mostly government controlled Russian media tells another, I guess it is only logical to assume that Russian media is right...

Unknown said...

I want to reach out through this great partisan device to the Russians and say: "open your eyes, your people have been lying to you."

You are wasting your time by scrutinizing microfacts, while at the same time missing the whole picture available. Russia obviously still has the propaganda apparatus left over from the Soviet era. Putin is a KGB guy and he knows how to do this.

Commentator vladimir analyses history and what really matters now is how to not repeat the mistakes. I assume you, vladimir, are knowledgeable in history and if you compare the presence with the past you will find a key secret.

I know Putin spend a great deal of time in Germany. Well, he might have studied Hitler papers (I could be wrong), but surprisingly enough today we have the same scenario from the Third Reich play book. Using the old Third Reich ruse of protecting ethnic Russians who are living in Georgian territory, Putin has launched a violent action (you can go back and forth). But what scares me the most is that as a former Soviet Secret Police director, Putin has no problem using harsh methods to achieve his goals by beating, imprisoning and, on occasion, murdering others with whom he disagrees.

Putin's vision is a Russia that dominates the countries on its borders and competes with the United States and China for global influence. He has done everything he can to weaken America, even selling Iran sophisticated weaponry. Obviously.

And Putin represents the Russians I guess. I could be wrong but at least from these comments I am sure that the Russians admire their leader no matter what, couldn't care about their image, because power matters. If you win, you will go back to the locker-room and celebrate...

Giustino said...

If there was no Western condemnation and support, a more isolated Georgian leader may have chosen a different, more suicidal route for dealing with the Russian invasion of his country.

And we all know what kind of arrogant, unscrupulous leader runs Russia. That is what is called a recipe for another Chechnya or Afghanistan.

We should be glad that Western leaders have decided to intervene, if too late. Now we have a shaky ceasefire. Without efforts from Sarkozy, Rice, and, yes, the Baltic and Polish presidents, they might be fighting a guerrilla war in Tbilisi by now.

Look beyond the rhetoric and see the truth. What we see is that the Russians have obtained a forward position within Georgia and that they are basically not leaving without annexing those provinces.

The methodology, issuing passports then claiming protection, is astounding. Maybe we should start issuing passports in Havana. I mean, I am sure so many of them want to be US citizens, and they need to be protected ...

Kristopher said...

The Russians have no reason to take Tbilisi. That would only cause international indignation. As Saakashvili notes, the country is cut in two.

The plan is now this:

1) Let the int'l media interest die down. It already has. Incredibly, there was no report in any of the major news sites about whether Gori has been handed over as it was promised. I guess the debate about tank sightings got boring. It's now clear it will be the Russians who will hand Gori by...

2) ...recruiting "loyal" (cowed, humiliated) officers and remnant Georgian forces and co-opting them. This is what the US did in Itaq. A strong "local leader" has been picked and he will make his career overseeing the "return to peace" in Gori.

3) Move about the annexed Georgian cities as if you own them. Follow the South Ossetians around while they pillage and claim to be stopping them. Use the South Ossetians to do your dirty work to destroy the economy, now that the military aspets have been dismantled. It will result in more pressure on Saakashvili in the long term. The ethnic strife provides a cover for "peacekeeping operations".

4. Repeat #1-3 a couple months down the road in the rest of Georgia or the next country.

Anton said...

The are two things that particularly pissed off the western powers, particularly the States.

1) Russia stood up for its citizens.

2) Russia didn't go beyond S.Ossetian boarders, it didn't invade Georgia.

The country did what it promised it to do, it stopped bloodshed in S.Ossetia. Therefore,the calculation of the USA/Georgian provocation failed on both counts.

Giustino said...


Last time I checked, Gori wasn't in South Ossetia.

We have to think up more asymmetrical ways of dealing with Russia. This "we might boycott your olympic games" thing isn't going to work.

Urmo said...

Heh, Anton is starting to use blatant lies Russian armed forces produce en masse.

No problems for them to tell that "we are not inside the Georgia" and "we are handing over the Gori". No contradiction there.

I think comrades in the east have serious problems getting their stories straight.

Anton: what really pissed of whole democratic world (and even Russian dictatorship-regime pals like Belarus) was the fact that Russia invaded, no matter the reasons, independent foreign country using peacekeeping as pretext to invasion. I know Great Russia chauvinists have hard time seeing a problem there, but please try.

Kristopher said...

Russia didn't go beyond S.Ossetian boarders, it didn't invade Georgia.

Now we're talking, Anton. 'I didn't do it, Your Honour.' It's the last resort. Why not?

Anton said...

Russian troops aren't in Gori, they are on the outskirts to prevent Georgian artillery from shelling Ossetia.

When several thousand American citizens were killed in 9/11, that was a good enough reason to start the war on terror and topple two governments.

When several thousand Russian citizens are killed overnight, Russia is denied the right to defend its citizens and peacekeepers?? Why such double standards?? Why such selective criticism?? What,the Ossetians and the Russian peacekeepers are less human then the Americans?

If a similar situation happened to any Western nation, the whole world would be cheering for an Iraq-style liberation war, but when it comes to Russia, then simply... fuck the Russians.

Saakashivili decided to start a war, Russia fought this war...and he had it easy, it could have been worse for him and Georgia.

TErr said...

Yeah, killing 10 US soldiers would have caused the destruction of every cockroach on the guilty's land.

We followed correctly all the rules of engagement, and stopped when it's nessesary. What Russian troops are doing now in Georgia is mainly minesweeping.

And here is another example of lye and fact manipulation

It says “Russian soldiers” and “Russian troops” in the title. From their appearance I have serious doubts that those men are russians and that they are soldriers of any army. They have no insignia, only white bands on the left arms, unshaved, grown hair and pants over boots. And nothing about their identity says in the text. But yes, gerogians and their western puppet masters want them to be Russians. Georgians say, that those men are russians and the flock beleives it.

Giustino said...

To what double standards do you refer? I seem to recall fairly universal condemnation of the US' actions in Iraq in 2003. The majority of people in allied countries --Italy, Spain, the UK -- were even against it.

America's moral capital crumbled and continues to reside somewhere in the gutter thanks to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Bush on a good day only has about a 30 percent approval rating.

And, again, this is what you compare yourselves to? And you wonder why your Leader just squandered most of Russia's political capital to get his war on in Georgia? Keep on going guys. Soon the US can trade you for least respected nation status.

Anton said...

In the aftermath of 9/11, Osama bin Laden the man supposedly behind this horrible terrorist act is proclaimed the world's most wanted man, the world grieved for the loss of human life, and NATO invaded Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban government and catch bin Laden and co. To this day the man is condemned and hated by many.

Once again, when Georgian troops all of the sudden attacked Ossetia leaving several thousand dead, there was no condemnation of this act of aggression, which is an act of genocide, similar to 9/11, the only difference being is the choosen weapon, in this case the army. Instead the man behind this mass murder is praised as the defender of democracy and is immediately portrayed as the victim of Russian aggression.

Saddam Hussein was hanged for destroying several Kurdish villages, specific charges included murder of 148 people. As result of Saakshivili's actions 2000 have been killed overnight. However, in our scenario, the only actions undertaken by US and the West, are those of support and friendship towards Saakashivili.
Lets not forget that NATO armed the Georgian army.

How many Serbian army and political leaders have gone under trial for actions hardly any different to those which took place in Ossetia? Needless to mention, that there are 10 times the amount of Serbs persecuted in the Hague Tribunal, in comparison to representatives of other former Yugolasv Republics. The West endorsed the Kosovan prime minister, who is in fact accused of organ trade, terrorist activity and murder of civilians. No one even bothered investigating that one. Selective justice and trial.

The West has continiuosly asked Russia to respect the territorial unity of Georiga, and yet US/EU have not done that in regards to Serbia, have they? Instead they ripped of Kosovo allowing a former terrorist become the prime minister. So essentially, we have good separatists and bad ones...ones are allowed to become independent, others are murdered with Western approval. Those are the double standards I had in mind.
Simply for his loyalty to the West and hatred towards Kremlin, Saakashivili is off the hook.
(And I know you wil say no, it's because of his democratic values, no, the man who is behind the murders of Zhvania, Girgvliani and possibly even Patakatsishvili; persecution and expulstion of opposition is not a democrat. He uased force on his own people for God's sake.)

Reminds of the Cold War mindset,
"He is a son of a bitch but he is our son of a bitch" said Reagan.

You misunderstood me there,giustino. My point wasn't that US was the examplary nation of moraral standards. My point was that if US was in Russia's shoes, Saakashivili would be internationaly condemned as another bin Laden, but this is Russia and the reaction is always negative, no matter who started the conflict and how many innocent people were killed.

And as you suggest, that Putin started the war, that is nonsense. Simply the level of preparation of the 58th army and the high death toll of Russian troops and civilians indicates otherwise.

Kaisa said...

anton, will you stop babbling on about the 2000 people killed, you are embarrasing yourself more and more. As far as we know, there have been 44 people killed which is a tragedy, but still a bit different, isnt't it? We also have to take Georgian claims about ethnic cleansing taking place in South Ossetia with a pinch of salt. However, in your elegant arguments you keep ignoring the fact that NO ONE can find out what is really happening because the Russian army simply won't let anyone near these places. Which implies that we don't really need to see it ourselves, it suffices to hear what the Russians are saying, because they cannot possibly be lying, can they?

Urmo said...

Anton, thank you for the superbly demagogic mix of unrelated facts and analogs that in your mind justify Russian occupation of Georgia. But one fact remains: Russian armed forces are currently occupying Georgia, Moscow is making clear demands to change the democratically elected government of foreign country and at the same time sending Georgia's economy straight to the bottom systematically destroying both military and civilian infrastructure.

Try to understand it: there isn't single entity called "the West" counter to common Russian belief who have seen only monolithic centralized undemocratic government for... well, only. Russia never had true democracy, now then I come to think of it. Never ... that's sad. What makes me even more sad is thousand little Russian information war soldiers glorifying Russian actions all over the net and repeating what they hear from TV even if it contradicts common logic or their very own previous statements. I can see the doublethink from 1984 is well implemented by our beloved comrade, mr. Putin

TErr said...

-Russian armed forces are currently occupying Georgia
- Moscow is making clear demands to change the democratically elected government of foreign country
-sending Georgia's economy straight to the bottom systematically destroying both military and civilian infrastructure
- there have been 44 people killed which is a tragedy
- the Russian army simply won't let anyone near these places
- ethnic cleansing taking place in South Ossetia

- that is really superbly demagogic mix of unrelated and false facts and analogs. You just dont want to accept any pro-russian version of events because you hate Russia. But there is a good arabic saying - dog barking, but the caravan keeps going. So, little doggies can bark, but we don't give a crap. Russia did the right thing and we are proud of it no despite any russophobic paranoya. We live in a great and free country and can say what we want and have freedon of opinions, while wherever you guys are from there is some dominant ideology, the "general party line". What a pity!

Unknown said...

You, terr, live in a country which is a shell of a former empire, with nuclear weapons, oil and gas, but an aging population of just 145 million, falling by more than half a million a year from alcoholism, drugs, and disease. Men's life expectancy in now just fifty-nine years, considerably lower than under the Soviet Union. Not only has Russia's wider economy not developed, but it has not invested much of its bonanza back into its oil industry, which remains wasteful land and, in places, simply primitive. Putin...
a KBG guy, who will kill everyone with whom he disagrees. 22 journalists have been killed during the Putin's presidency so far. And you reputation and image is in tatters, terr. It's gone. Pulling the wool over the foreiners' eyes is a national sport and, sure, you are not the only one in this mania for dressing up the reality - the whole veneer of people have been created by the Soviet System... Am I an ideolog, terr, predicting that Russia is my darkest night based on these facts?

TErr said...

You go to Russia, live there for while, get to know people, learn russian and get a chance to hear and lissen to the media. Then I'll give credit to your and others like you opinion. I personally spent several years in the US and in Europe, so I can get a wider picture. And besides that I am no fan of communism and socialism or any ideological opression. But, still, I was born in the USSR and live in Russia. I know how things are in my country, know it's history and specifics of relations between people. I've been to Georgia and Abhasia before the conflict. I guess those russians who oppose have simillar experience and know better who we are and what we are. As for those like you - you are limited to only what those like Edward Lucas The Cold Warrior (though he looks more like a clerk then a warrior) feed you with.

Pulling wool? We dont give a crap. If you do give - come over and see how things really are there. Judging things from Tbilisy's no good.

Urmo said...

Actually, Terr, at least in baltics people have much better access to Russian media than you think. I have more Russian TV channels than Estonian and western combined. And holy cow, how much straight on crap they produce, from daily fact/emotion twisting to straight on lies. I might not be able to directly judge media in Georgia but I saw how and what was told in Russian media during the last April during the Bronze Soldier riots. Stories were so ridiculous I sometimes laughed my pants off.

But you have right to your opinion. Just keep repeating "we are doing everything right, it is the whole world what is wrong" cult-mantra that Soviet Union cultivated so well. And the "everybody hates us, we are surrounded by enemies" works also pretty well for manipulating Russian masses. And get rid of those pathetic doubt spearding journalists among you, they don't support the Truth Ministry. Start with author of, taking out female journalists should be already routine for you.

globus said...

OK, it looks like the question of genocide in Ossetia has subsided a bit: there are about 40 confirmed dead in Tskinvali (sp?). I always wondered, how was it that the Russians barely got into the city and already they knew that there were 1400 dead there. Doesn't it take weeks to figure out what the losses are when in a destroyed city like that? Never believed one word coming from the Russian media (propaganda machine). All lies. Same for a huge proliferation of crudely pro-Russian net posters in every single online source that allows commentary. They're all KGB boys, I'm sure. Saakishvili is no genocidal bandit, though he did make a bad move (which I'm sure very pleased the Russians).

globus said...

Speaking of which, why is it that the Russian Army drags in its wake these hordes of "Kossacks", Chechens, and other irregulars who, according to the press reports, pillage, rape, and murder civilians. This is exactly how in WWII Einsatzgruppen followed Wehrmacht into Russia: the latter did the fighting, the former followed up with mass murder of the unarmed population. Who can tell me what the intent behind the use of such armed groups is? I mean, according to the Russian side.

TErr said...

It would be curious to know how each of you characterises Georgia's actions in the first to days of war, before "Russia's invasion", if to assume that the city of Tshinvaly was really destroyed and 1500 killed over night.

Urmo said...

As to death toll, this data came from Russian media so I was sceptic about it from the beginning.

As to Georgian actions, I was terrified and asked big WHY. I still think taking troops to SO was not a very good idea (not that Georgia had no rights to do that), I just think there were might have been other ways to achieve desired results.

TErr said...

It's your right to sceptic, though judging from the scales of georgian attack - Grad bombing and massive tank strike - the numbers seem pretty real. You know what Grad is and how it works and what happens when a tank shoots over a city from a higher postion. The fact that the victims are not documented is just simple - in that mess people where trying to get rid of tha bodies as soon as possible.

Still there is a fact you cant deny - georgians commited violent agression/or genocide, killed many people (even if 750), most of whom where russian citizens, and 10 uniformed militarymen, the Peacekeepers (!!!????). That's where you should judge from, it's simple. The problem is that you only trust georgian media and give no credit to russian.

Urmo said...

Well, this massiveness is second thing I was a bit skeptical from the beginning. Only shots of GRAD attacks were taken in dark forest during the night of single launch vehicle. Considering the fact, that HRW (organization that's usually quite pro-Russian) reports SO given body count to be ridiculous (hospitals received around 40 dead, both civilian and military), my skepticism was firmly grounded. Talks how 1300 bodies just disappeared, that locals somehow "got rid of them" is just nonsense, were would have been tens of thousands of wounded in that case.

I cannot deny there were casualties on both sides (learn the meaning of word genocide, Russian current actions in Georgia qualify a lot better to the definition. oh, and while you are doing it, just also look up fascism, I know Russians have really hard time understanding that word as well :) ), but I also happened to monitor the situation a bit in that region for last few years. And I most certainly cannot blame solely Georgia.

Russia has been feeding fuel to the conflict almost for a decade now, this situation rigged to blow up sooner or later. It was especially ironical then mr Lavrov used term "virtual project" referring to Georgia and US. It seemed logical and believable, luckily everything coming from RF channels triggers my demagogy alert. You have to turn things they say 180 degrees and view it from there. If you think of it, what can be more described as virtual project, either South-Ossetia Ltd or Georgia?

I don't deny, US has it's own economical interests in the region but they have extremely different ways (should I say civilized and acceptable) of expressing them. Moscow still has to learn these ways. I know one very important thing for all Russians, people I know personally as well as a nation in whole is to feel respected. How many Russians after having couple of shots of vodka ask: "tõ mne uvazaješ?". But on the government level people seem to think that respect only comes through brute force.

TErr said...

"However, Human Rights Watch, who acknowledged investigation was not yet complete, nevertheless said that this figure was "suspicious" and "very doubtful", citing a Tshinvalli hospital report of 273 wounded and 44 dead.[24] A study of casualties over the period from August 8 until August 20 concluded that the precise count is 1,492 dead as the result of the bombing of Tskhinvali[25][26]"

- that's where you took your data from, Wikipedia? That's your right to doubt the Russian or Ossetian sources, but hospitals in a destroyed city are not the best place to find out about war casualties. And , like I said, the intensity of bombing and the way georgians where fighting - with no selection of targets - make it highly possible to kill more 1000 in a sleeping city. Grad even single if sufficent, though there were more then one launcher, plus tanks and artillery.

So, I see no way to avoid the qualification of Georgia's action as agression\genocide. You said smth. about russians genociding gerogians - how? Saak. made his own his own citizens hostages of his stupidity, placing the command post near the city of Gori. He unleashed the war and he is responsible that our bombs accidently hit civilian targets.
BTW the first 75 tons of humanitarian aid to Gori came from Russia.

Yes, we gave moral and some material support to the breakaway republics, but it has no comparison to the multybillion financial/military and polital supply of Georgia. It really is their project, though, virual. I am agree with Lavrov.

Again, what a system of double standrds - Kosovo-Osetia. There were no problem creating criminal anclave in the heart of Europe.

"US has it's own economical interests in the region but they have extremely different ways (should I say civilized and acceptable) of expressing them"

- o, yeah, they do! In Iraq especially!

globus said...

I would say that Saakishvili is probably a moron for launching this thing. A lot of people died, even if it's not 1400 but "only" 40 - that's fourty people too many. Plus he achieved nothing, and should have anticipated that precise result. Russian lies are Russian lies, nothing needs to be added, this is all very transparent, "genocide" etc. That the Russians were quite prepared for someting like that (and were preparing it all along) is clear too, but this doesn't remove the guilt from Mr Saakishvili, who didn't need to be a genius to anticipate just what happened. He spent at least a year previously insisting that he had no military plans and would solve the problem via negotiations. Finally, I'm still interested in the Russian view about the horde of hangers-on that the Russian Army seems to drag along every time (let's recall that during the first was there, in 1990s, the well-known Basaev fought the Georgians basically in Russian service (the same Basaev who caused a lot of trouble to the Russians later on). Why is this sort of thing necessary? What are these "Cossaks" doing there? They've never been an efficient fighting force even in the original, pre-Soviet times; more like a band of marauders. I'd like to hear some of the GeBe boys posting here (obviously there are quite a few). Surely they know. Please explain the presence of Einsatztruppen in your Army.

Urmo said...

I won't continue to play the guess-game of the casualty numbers - they might be more clear in time when independent international organizations are doing the counting. And sorry, your hospital logic just doesn't apply - Tskhinvali continued to function after both sides attacks so hospitals were the place you find wounded people. That's were people go if they don't escape the city and there was no massive damage to the refugees. But let's wait for reports of non-involved sides.

I can most certainly say that taking military action against paramilitary rebels (who fought with Russia-provided guns) cannot be qualified as genocide while the actions of Russian supported SO and Abkhazian rebels + cossacs (who on earth let them through the tunnel?) performing retaliation during the aftermath is.

I'm sure evil Georgians had only most evil intentions while attacking Tskhinvali as Russians had only peace in mind while they bombed Gori... One side has always bombs of peace, usually the winning side.

As to States and Iraq and Kosovo, it's sad to know you want to model yourself using those three. I personally think breaking Kosovo from Serbia was the most stupid move.

As I remember, there are at least 50 smaller states inside Russia. If they start to demand independence, will you support this as eagerly as you are supporting SO at the moment? Especially those Siberian nations whose native lands you use to get most of your oil from.

TErr said...

I meant hospitals, because they were destroyed and had to operate in the basements. No morgues were functioning, pepople were berrying their dead in the gardens. So, hospitals were not the best reference to count the dead.

Provided we guns or not, but still, these were mainly small arm. A machine gun doesnt' count vs Grad or a cannon.

Cossacks? What cossacks. That's damn crazy. All those volunteers were kepts out of the war. That' all paranoildal propaganda. Nogovitsyn, Lavrov and other officials give press conferences almost every day. That's the only viable source from our side. You better quote them, or other official sources but no rumors.

"I'm sure evil Georgians had only most evil intentions while attacking Tskhinvali as Russians had only peace in mind while they bombed Gori..."

- No, we had war in mind. Stupid georgians wanted that, they got it. But, like I said before, bombing military targets in Gori was justifyed under particular circumstances.

As for the states within Russia. What states? It seems funny now. Though I will first find out what stands besides a sepataism movement - a true desire of the whole nation for independence or or interests of some particular groups. Russia never denyed Georgia's right for integrity, but a war was never considered as an options.

But I really dont understand what do we dispute about. Georgians fucked up, Russians benefited from that. But in that situation the West took the side of Georgia without bothering about Osetia and getting the whole picture. While when it was about Kosovo, the raction was absolutely opposite. Double standards, Cold War stance. All our copoperative moves before are forgotten. Now we shouldn't give a shit, we care about our national intersts only.

Urmo said...

Wow, South Ossetian body dissapearing trick will be famous. Gardens filled with corpses and wounded ... well gone. Good one, Russian media invented that minute after people started to ask questions where are the bodies.

Please define "official channels". I can you give you links to news articles. Clever move to mention "Larvrov and other official sources". Really good one. No bias there.

Russia started very actively "hint" on Georgian integrity issues after very west oriented guy was elected as a president. Also, border incidents went up relatively fast as well after that. I pretty sure it has nothing to do with the only pipeline going through Georgia becoming fully operational in 2009...

As to your last sentences - don't play like you used to care. I know too many Russians to know it's most improbable on both your personal level and at your government level. I've seen no cooperation but only growing aggressiveness after FSB took over.

Giustino said...

I think the support for Kosovo's independence was linked to the European Union's presence in the Balkans, and the idea that states like Montenegro or, now, Kosovo, would barely be able to pursue their own foreign policies, anyway.

And wasn't it Russia's good chums in Berlin that facilitated the Yugoslav break up, starting with their recognition of Slovenia and Croatia in 1991?

So, if Kosovo was going to continually threaten independence, then fine, it could have its flag and its own parliament and president, but in the longterm, it and Serbia would join Schengen, and its independence would amount to Serbia's offer of autonomy.

Doesn't Russia have loads of republics that it carves up at will? I mean the Republic of Karelia has its own head, own prime minister, own legislative assembly, and, of course, it's own official language, which happens to be Russian, not Karelian. But independent foreign policy? Not really.

Anton said...

Yes Russia does have many republics within the state, it is called a Federation for a reason, however most of theese so called autonomous republics and states don't crave for complete independence. The current model of federation is therefore satisfactory to both sides, somewhat similar to the model of UK. Most of the inhabitants of such autonomous republics, realise that their life would be a lot worse if they choose to be outside of RF, gas and oil alone are a good enough reason for them to stay. As for example of Chechnya, they received their independece and what followed, was massacre and islamic radicalism. Kadirov today is a mini-Putin in the republic, and the state itself is more or less sovereign.

This nonsense about Cossacks and other irregular formations fighting is absolute nonsense.
Yes it did take place during the first war, however this time they were stopped at the boarders, even resulting in some clashes against Russian boarderkeepers.

Read the latest FT issue and find the interview with officials from Tbilisi, who acknowledge that they weren't expecting such a bold reaction from Russia, during Saak's attempt to retake Ossetia.

The only Georgian oilpipe? Russia wouldn't start a war because of an oil pipe, it already has a gas/oil monopoly over most Europe, guaranteed for the next 20 years min.

If is funny how many called the constant Ossetian warnings of threat of war - Russian provocations. How blatantly politicians wordwide blanked the Russian officials, who were clearly warning of Georgian aggression several months ago.
And the 6 (or was it more?) Georgian spyplanes shot down over Abkhazia, was that a coincidence aswell?

So many facts indicate that Saakshvili was planing this Blitzkrieg ahead.
Lavrov, you so called "biased" source of information, on several occasions during the course of last year, said, how worried he is about the fact that Georgian side has contioniously refused to sign the peace-regulation document, which stated that all sides would restrain from using violence to resolve the crisis, a document signed by all sides but Georgia.

And finally the, ignorance and stupidity of our Estonian government doesn't stop to surprise me. Instead of digging up the pile of shit they made in this country, the political discussion of the day is, how to help Georgia and what to do about Russia?
My goodnes, like we have no other more urgent issues to deal with.
Instead, those so called politicians are going to focus on the memorial of independence and on Georgia, fantastic!

Ahasuerus said...

I doubt it makes much sense to argue with Russian nationalists at this late date. The fight for the "mysterious Russian soul" was lost back in the 1990s as Russian public opinion slowly moved from a pro-Western/anti-Communist "we want to be in NATO too!" euphoria in 1991-1992 to an outright confrontation with NATO in 1999. Putin's rise in 1999-2000 was, as Marxists used to say, "no coincidence, comrades" :-)

Granted, there were numerous steps along the way, e.g. compare and contrast Yeltsin's statements on the issue of NATO expansion in mid-1993 and in late 1993, which historians will study for decades to come, but at the moment the burning question is what to do about the current situation.

The most obvious response is to put our hardware where our rhetoric has been and make the much-heralded NATO expansion a reality. So far the expansion has consisted of written security guarantees, joint exercises, training, planning and other laudable but rather ephemeral things. (We have all seen how much joint exercises have helped Georgia.) Security guarantees are a wonderful thing, but how much deterrence do they offer when the heavy armor is hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away?

Moving American bases from the western half of Germany to Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic would be the obvious first step. Stationing a few American, British, Polish and Czech brigades in the Baltics would be an even more important second one, which will be trickier to implement due to the presence of large Russian speaking minorities there. Not only that, but this change in the strategic posture will be very expensive, put a significant strain on NATO structures since many members are unlikely to support it, and risk stretching US/UK forces too thin, especially given their commitments elsewhere, but on the other hand the memories of 1945-1948 (or 1938-1939, for that matter) still loom large.

I guess we'll see whether the US administration(s) and (which) US allies will move in this direction in the next year or two.

Giustino said...

Instead of digging up the pile of shit they made in this country, the political discussion of the day is, how to help Georgia and what to do about Russia?

Anton, the Estonian government just gave 1 million kroons to South Ossetian refugees.

And seriously, the maturity level of the little boys running the Kremlin is about that of a 6-year old. Putin is a spoiled brat; Rogozin is a vile propagandist who deserves a one-way ticket to obscurity.

We are not dealing with men here.

Lavrov, you so called "biased" source of information, on several occasions during the course of last year, said, how worried he is

Lavrov is worried about one thing -- getting the money Gazprom generates to his bank account.

He needs to be dismissed. His diplomacy is terrible. Nobody believed him on the "ethnic cleansing" issue; now he's trying in vain to get the rest of the world to "choose Russia or Georgia."

It's not going to happen. Let the Georgian people decide. This is exactly why I despise autocracies like the sham Russia has become. They have to control everything. Nothing can be left up to chance or the people. Presidents must be elected with 70 percent of the vote.


TErr said...

Well, it seems like living in Estonia is contagious. Think whatever you want. As russian I am proud of country , my government and our armed forces. We are far from perfect, but little by little we restore our ability to conduct an independent policy and defend our national interest. We will get what we want. While for the countries like Estonia or current Georgia there will only be left freedom - freedom to choose a pose during the intercourse with the Master. But they should remember that being too active under a client can counterproductive.

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Giustino said...


One can be proud of their country and disapprove of their political leadership. One can be pro-Estonia and dislike Mr. Ansip (as many do).

One can be pro-Russia, in terms of looking out for the interests of Russian people, and disagree vehemently with the policies of the kleptocrats who run the state.

And one does not have to love Mr. Saakashvili to appreciate Georgian hopes for a better, more democratic future.

As for serving masters, there are domestic and foreign masters. It disappoints me when I see critical thinking overwhelmingly abandoned by people of any nationality in order to conform with the narrative voiced by that master.

Parimat! {that means "all the best!"}

globus said...

Anton wrote: "This nonsense about Cossacks and other irregular formations fighting is absolute nonsense."

Well, if you say so. I mean, I've been reading about it in newspapers, there are photos of some bearded guys in weird blue uniforms, and so on. The reports are that civilians are roughed up, robbed, and even killed in the areas under Russian control. Apparently it's not the Army itself who does it, but those militias that the Army brought with them. I suppose that one can't join up with the Army w/o the Army's approval, so why does the Russian Army need this rag-tag band of robbers? Is the intent to inflict some sort of collective punishment on the enemy's population? Sure looks like it.

"Yes it did take place during the first war, however this time they were stopped at the boarders, even resulting in some clashes against Russian boarderkeepers."
Which borders? The reports I remember came from South Ossetia and Gori, I think. I did read that the army sort of tries to keep them away, but they're not very successful and, more importantly, why are these armed marauders there to begin with?

Anton said...

The original and primary role of NATO was aimed against Russia, it remains so to this day. Don't forget, NATO came to the boarders of Russia,(not vice versa) despite its promises to say out from Eastern Europe. Fair enough though, decission of East Europeans.

Pro-NATO public opinion, along with other Yeltsin's goals and views slowly died after the man, suspended and ordered the tanks to shoot the Duma with the MPs inside. So much for the praised democrat, hey.

"Little boys... spoiled brat", perhaps, giustino, I don't know the men personally.Yet this spoiled brat, managed to hold together, what was a disintegrating country, and that is fact. Your Ansip, or Yuschenko and even Saakashvili for that matter of fact, wouldn't be able to do that, as they have clearly demonstrated, they are only capable of destruction and bringing misery on their people.Fact

"Lavrov is worried about one thing -- getting the money Gazprom generates to his bank account."

Well that comment is just plain silly and indeed makes me worried about your level of maturity. All politicians work for a wage, we all do, in fact the reason Edward wrote his book, is because he wants to send his kids to school.(apparently a quote from him)
Or are you implying that all other politicians outside of Kremlin are just nice altruists?

"He needs to be dismissed. His diplomacy is terrible."

Surely needs to be a decision made by the Russian people, not by someone sitting in a "box" in Tartu. "Let the [Russian] people decide"

Putin has done more in the interest of Russian people than any of you can imagine, more than any recent European politician for his people. However, a number of you probably won't comprehend this, as you have clearly demonstrated that you are absolutist when it comes to Kremlin, your monolithic and out-dated views of Russia, won't get you far. I understand some of you fancy yourselves as Russia experts but before even making such bold assumptions,first, live in Russia.

This "Cossacks" deal is really making me laugh and yet it demonstrates the extent of false propoganda by the Georgian state, which for your information has banned all but Georgian channels
(and "Voice of America"radiowave).

Recommend reading Mark Almonds article in Le Monde and Batu Kuteli's interview in FT. Quite objective and no pre-mature accusations.

Look forward to hearing your views.

Teile ka, kõige paremat.

Giustino said...

Don't forget, NATO came to the boarders of Russia,(not vice versa) despite its promises to say out from Eastern Europe.

Can you show me the piece of paper where NATO signed its name, stating its promise never to extend to eastern Europe?

A verbal agreement between two former heads of state (one of a deceased country) isn't worth very much.

Pro-NATO public opinion, along with other Yeltsin's goals and views slowly died after the man, suspended and ordered the tanks to shoot the Duma with the MPs inside. So much for the praised democrat, hey.

The West has a weakness for strong leaders in developing countries. But it also has a weakness for Putin; it gladly regurgitates his talking points (poor little Russia, stripped of its wealth by oligarchs, crawls out of the dark to defend its national interests).

Yet this spoiled brat, managed to hold together, what was a disintegrating country, and that is fact.

Putin is losing it, Anton. Maybe he had "it" a couple years ago, but the power and isolation has gotten to him. It happens to everyone who winds up at the helm in Moscow.

Your Ansip, or Yuschenko and even Saakashvili for that matter of fact, wouldn't be able to do that, as they have clearly demonstrated, they are only capable of destruction and bringing misery on their people.

Since when did Yuschenko or Saakashvili or Ansip become "mine"? My president is Mr. Bush. But given all that Mr. Bush has done wrong, the US still soldiers along because its institutions are built to outlive whomever is the executive.

And Ansip has hardly brought misery to anyone. He just had the misfortune to be stuck as PM when the economy came in for its hard landing. But, fortunately, his country also has institutions that are stronger than him. So one day, he will leave office and there will be another PM.

That is the challenge that Russia will face. One day there will be no more Putin, and then what? Another revolution? Will they banish him to the corners of their memories with all the other former leaders? Handing the script for your future over to one man is never a good idea.

Surely needs to be a decision made by the Russian people, not by someone sitting in a "box" in Tartu. "Let the [Russian] people decide"

The Russian people cannot decide to remove Mr. Lavrov or his superiors as there are no competitive elections in Russia.

Giustino said...

Communicating with some of the pro-Putin posters here reminds me of how thick the propaganda was during the Kosovo campaign in '99 or the Iraq invasion in '03 in the US.

Many of my relatives were literally reduced to robots. [Saddam evil. Has WMD. Must liberate. Just like WWII.]

Here we see the same phenomenon. [Putin strong leader. This just like great patriotic war. Saakashvili new Hitler. Western double standards.]

One would be best advised to stay away from TV news and batten down the hatches. Soon the fog of war propaganda will dissipate and the sweet air of logic will return.

Until then, seltsimehed. Nägemiseni.

globus said...

anton says, "This "Cossacks" deal is really making me laugh and yet it demonstrates the extent of false propoganda by the Georgian state"

Except I saw that in a Russian newspaper :-) ... The report was full of nationalistic bravura, pictures and all. Why so much evasion, Anton? I mean, it's not controversial that there was a large number of paramilitary hangers-on following the Russian army. I still don't know why they were needed. They certainly do not represent a viable fighting force, never did actually, even their pre-revolutionary, genuine precursors, much less today's operatic-looking characters. So, anyway, are you saying there were no irregulars involved, or that they didn't pillage?

Colleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colleen said...

has anyone hacked this guy's blogg and made it so that he can't log-in anymore?

please remove the hack. i want to hear what ELu has to say because he is probably so p-ssed off right now.

i mean, for years he's been telling the West to act tough and be firm with Russia.

Instead, Russia has stolen his playbook and is the one acting tough - and it looks like the west will cave in (it doesn't have any other realistic choice).

So, very well planned ELu, but unfortunately, for you, the wrong side had the will to deploy your gameplan.

Giustino said...

I haven't found any new atlases with the Republic of Kosovo on it. I don't expect I will find the Republic of Abkhazia on any new ones as well. Why? Because only Serbia can give Kosovo its independence and only Georgia can truly give Abkhazia its independence.

Until then, this is all just bread and circus for the citizens of the Russian Federation.

Anton said...

"Can you show me the piece of paper where NATO signed its name, stating its promise never to extend to eastern Europe?"

Yeah, you can do it yourself. It is called the "2+4 Treaty" of 1990, its primary concern was the "Wiedervereinigung" of Germany, however it also dealt with the future role of NATO in Europe.

"So, anyway, are you saying there were no irregulars involved, or that they didn't pillage"

There were no Cossacks in this war.
Even the simple process of assembling and mobilizing them through the mountains of Caucases, on such short notice is impossible.
The war would have been over by then.

The irregular formations, which took part in the conflict is called the South Ossetian Army, thats what they are, civilians with weapons.

The main forces that took part in the fighting was the 58th Army and the Chechnian Batallion "Vostok", which were two nearest military units. Ossetian militia engaged in battle as soon as Georgia attacked.

Saakashvili along with the wizzards in DC have failed to annex Ossetia but they sure have contributed very well to McCain's presidential campaign. "Another term of George Bush and 100 years in Iraq" Thats some McCain for you.

globus said...

No Cossack, huh? I'll try to find the paper where I saw guys with beards in blue uniform... it was a Russian paper, as I remember. So, OK, we'll set the Cossacks aside for now, but Chechens and Ossitians irregulars there were? If so, why? Wasn't the army enough?

Anton said...

No Chechnian irregular formations, "Vostok" is professional military unit of the Russian Federation, which only arrived a day later. The Ossetian irregulars are the army of Ossetia, they were the guys who were defending against the Georgian invasion, along with the several Russian peacekeepers. The took the first blow of the attack.
That's what they were doing there.

Don't forget the population of S.Ossetia is only around 70.000, we can't be talking of a conventional S.Ossetian army.

TErr said...

Another example of double standards. Here we read accusations about some cossacks or chechens (who made georgians weekend warriors flee leaving weaponry and eq.). While in Iraq private security companies like Black Water are shooting civillians. We are no worse and no better then any warfighting nations. But here it wasn't us, who started the war.

globus said...

terr, private security companies aren't irregular marauders, they're just private. But they're normal trained military people and they don't engage in robbery, pogroms, rape, and murder. They're certainly not shooting civilians as you baselessly suggest - unless it's a kind of 'civilians' that need to be shot.

In addition, pulling in private security is a tu quoque ("you too" kind of argument, which is a fallacy). Iow, even if Black Water were doing what you insinuate they are, it wouldn't exhonerate Russia doing similar. Two wrongs don't make one right, this sort of thing. You guys are badly trained (your argument is inconvincing), and that is probably because there is no meritocracy in Russia, you get your jobs based on your loyalty to the ruling mafia (gotovnost'ju podmahnut'), rather than competence. This is terribly sad.

Anton said...

"But they're normal trained military people and they don't engage in robbery, pogroms, rape, and murder. They're certainly not shooting civilians as you baselessly suggest - unless it's a kind of 'civilians' that need to be shot."

Either do the Russians.
Yet these professionaly trained military people cannot be tried in Iraq and are immune to the jurisdiction of Iraq.

I don't know where you were, when the Blackwater scandal took place, when these so called private troops killed several civilians and were later flown out of Iraq by US military planes.

Globus, you are a russophobe and you blatantly take pleasure from bashing Russia, now that is sad.

Urmo said...

"Yeah, you can do it yourself. It is called the "2+4 Treaty" of 1990, its primary concern was the "Wiedervereinigung" of Germany, however it also dealt with the future role of NATO in Europe."

Maybe in your dreams it did. It's another myth circling among Russians. Go read it yourself:

Nothing was promised to USSR (not RF, btw). USSR was in no position to make any demands at that time.

globus said...

anton, you're right, I am a russophobe. Zhizn' nauchila, nothing can be done. Unfortunately, Russia is currently owned and run by shpana i svoloch', and it is this that is sad - and very dangerous, to boot. What kind of curse is on this land, why is it always like this, a suppurating ulcer on the ass of civilisation? Enigma wrapped in mystery, etc, etc. I wish I knew. How do people live there? They know their govt. does all kinds of shit, and go on with it - but I understand, what can they do? Everyone wants to live, and live well, and so everyone goes along out of fear and tradition, and when this goes on for five hundred years, it becomes the very soul of the nation. Thinking of this breaks my heart: just that it's possible, that it truly is reality. Look at yourself, for example, you're probably a young guy whose job is to post around all kinds of kremlin lies and bulls*t. What a life! Einstein extended man's understanding of the Universe, Faulkner wrote great books, even Grandpa Lenin wanted something nice for everyone, and here you are, a professional liar in pay of a bloody evil mafia. I don't mean it confrontationally, it's more like a statement of fact. I'm sure you could pick, and become a truck driver, but I bet an "ideological worker" makes better money and has a better life - except, of curse, that he must first sell his soul to the devil.

Anton said...

for example, you're probably a young guy whose job is to post around all kinds of kremlin lies and bulls*t.

Good guess but no))
Actually a London uni student, with Estonian citizenship, and the only time I spend in Russia, is walking the gallaries of Hermitage. Hardly a profile of the Kremlin postman of bulls*t.

TErr said...

"job is to post around all kinds of kremlin lies and bulls*t"

- sorry to disappoint you, there is no such job. People do it volunteerly, because they want to share what they beleive and present counterarguements to the tons of bullshit poured by the major western media outlets. And as an "ideological worker" I would rather charachterise the host of this blog - Mr. E. Lucas.

globus said...

:: - sorry to disappoint you, there is no such job. People do it volunteerly,

:-) Leninskij subbotnik, eh? OK chuvak, I believe you... spasibo, posmejalsja ja xorosho.