Russia Overreaches Itself in Struggle to Control the Caucasus – Transitions Online

Russia Overreaches Itself in Struggle to Control the Caucasus – Transitions Online.

Moscow’s inability to rein in its South Caucasian satellites may affect Russia’s posture across the volatile Caucasus region.
by Valery Dzutsev
16 September 2011


15 quintessences about Ossetness

An optimistic assessment of Ossetian spirit by an Ossetian academician working in Moscow.


Germany grants political asylum to a former South Ossetian top official

Russian news agency Regnum informs, that a former top official of South Ossetia, Alan Chochiev has recently been granted political asylum in Germany. According to Mr Chochiev he was attacked especially violently on the brink of the war in South Ossetia in August 2008. This is a very significant development as Germany is known for its reluctance to grant political asylum to anyone.

The stalling effect of Georgian revanchism

I have recently visited yet another event in Washington, DC where the August 2008 war in Georgia was compared to the Soviets aggression against Hungary in 1956, against Czechoslovakia in 1968 and some participants even ventured to compare Georgia losing South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Germany being divided into Western Germany and Eastern Germany (DDR) after the WWII.

I especially liked the last concept, that some people really want to believe in, but the comparison is so utterly misplaced, that I can’t help commenting on it.

The authors of this concept apparently indulge in wishful thinking, when they suppose, that the populations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would like to be part of Georgia, but the evil Russians do not allow them. That was the case with the divided Germany, of course. Here, however, the Ossetians and the Abkhaz are ethnically different from Georgians, but close or identical to some peoples, living in the Russian Northern Caucasus. So it is not very likely they will strive to reunite with Georgia anytime soon, no matter what Russia does.

Those who endorse this concept apparently draw their inspiration from what happened in 1989, when the Iron Curtain fell and all of a sudden the whole Eastern Europe became free and rushed to embrace western values, institutions and so on and so forth. However, if the West instead of a set of policies, it had pursued prior to the Iron Curtain fall, pursued kind of imperialist rhetorics, the results may have been very different. Imagine, if Germany demanded not simply unification, but also the territories it lost to the USSR, Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII? Or if Austria demanded it entitled to rule its lost territories once again? Would the Eastern Europeans so willingly brought down their governments and undo the dividing lines in Europe? No way, they would have stuck to their existing governments and hope for the USSR to deliver them from their western foes.

The same is true about South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Few people in these territories will be willing to bring down the dividing lines, unless and when Georgia renounces its revanchist aspirations.

The War – Our Fault? Their Fault? Who Cares?

by TOL

2 October 2009

Mikheil Saakashvili can rest assured that the new, critical report on Georgia’s role in the Ossetian war will have almost no domestic repercussions.

Usually assessments of wars are left for the history books after scholars have pored over musty documents and questioned aging officials on who did what, how, and why. And of course, ascertained blame.

This week, however, a 1,000-page report on the 2008 Georgian-Russian war was issued under European Union auspices. The report’s authors aimed to dig deeper than any previous inquiry and figure out, as definitively and independently as possible, what happened during those five fateful days. They essentially damn both sides. Russia had set the stage for the conflict with “years of provocations, mutual accusations, military and political threats and acts of violence,” and had then acted with force and aggression incompatible with the real threat to its peacekeepers, including illegal excursions into undisputed Georgian territory. Georgia had, however, fired the war’s first shots, shelling South Ossetia – an unjustified act according to international law because of the failure to substantiate proof of a real Russian invasion.

In a democracy, such as Georgia purports to be, a conclusion like that might be fatal for the sitting president who ordered those shots, especially coupled with the disastrous results: the predictable over-reaction of Russia, the lack of military intervention from the West, and the loss of a further chunk of this small country’s territory.

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Europe must stand up for Georgia

Open letter: Twenty years after half of Europe was freed, a new wall is being built – across Georgia, say Vaclav Havel and others

Open letter, Tuesday 22 September 2009 00.05 BST

Number of good points, but I’m afraid, the authors miss the fact, that the situation in Georgia has a matreshka-like structure. Yes, Russian government has tried to undermine Georgia’s independence, but Georgian government persistently mistreated Ossetian people. Besides, however, the authors think that only democratic countries have the right to unilaterally redraw borders of smaller countries (see Kosovo), then they could as well say, that all countries are equal, but some, i.e. democratic ones are more equal, that the others.

Not only the authors demonstrate a perverted understanding of democracy, but also deep impracticality, they seem to believe in “territories” and “territorial integrity”, rather than in people, that actually live on those territories.

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Civil.Ge | Saakashvili: Georgia Confronts ‘Imperialist Monster’

Civil.Ge, Georgia Daily News Online | He said some in Europe “irritated” with Georgia’s resistance “to imperialistic threat.”

via Civil.Ge | Saakashvili: Georgia Confronts ‘Imperialist Monster’ .

This is just amazing..I can understand everything, president Saakashvili wants to rally whole world to reclaim the territories he finally lost (even though it was not him who initiated the loss). But I don’t understand, how he can claim that the events in Georgia “are having serious influence on the world political order”. This is just so blatant bragging, that I don’t even know, for whom it is said. Does he think, the world will turn upside down, if the government in Georgia fails?

UK House of Commons Report on Russia

It is interesting, that in the report of the House of Commons, it is recognized, that Saakashvili started the attack on South Ossetia on August 7, 2008, even though, according to the report, Georgia had previously been provoked by Russia.

I wonder why people still discuss who started the war, it is so obvious from simply following the chain of events. Georgian president Saakashvili says, that he ordered Georgian troops to go fight to stop imminent Russian invasion. The report seems to partly endorse this view.

However, according to this very table below, president Saakashvili declared “state of war” on August 8, somewhat not on August 7, when the war started in South Ossetia. Another question, I would ask Saakashvili is why to stop Russian invasion, Georgian troops had to attack Tkhinval, that lies tens of miles away from the Russian border. They could easily bypass the city, in fact the city had been practically surrounded by Georgian forces for a while.

Funny evidence, that the report provides from Georgia to explain why Georgians decided to fight against Russia, that is far stronger than Georgia goes: “We wanted to die for our country, rather than simply run away”…. Is this serious? Then why Georgia asked for peace on August 10? Two days after the Russians got involved? I don’t understand, if Georgians wanted to fight the Russians, they should have fought at least for couple of weeks, instead, they “wanted to die for their country”, but somewhat decided to surrender after couple of days.

Table 4: Timeline of the Georgia conflict and immediate lead-up in 2008
4 May Two Georgian UAVs shot down by Abkhazian forces, bringing the total to four since March.
5 May Georgian news agency reports of the construction of a new Russian military base for peacekeepers in Abkhazia.
26 May UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) confirms Georgian UAV shot down by Russian jet in Abkhazia on 20 April; Russian Foreign Minister claims video has ‘serious inconsistencies’.
31 May Russia deploys 300 ‘unarmed’ soldiers to Abkhazia, claiming they are required for railway repair works. Georgia indicts Russia in planning a military intervention.
June Abkhazia breaks all ties with Georgian government
6-7 June Saakashvili and Medvedev meet, but agree that they cannot resolve ‘all of their problems’; Georgia declares the two sides must meet for a longer discussion.
14-15 June Reports of an ‘intensive’ exchange of fire outskirts of Tskhinvali between Georgian and South Ossetian troops.
17 June Four Russian peacekeepers detained in Abkhazia for allegedly transporting illegal ammunition; Russian Defence Ministry demands their return.
3-4 July Explosions in South Ossetia prompt Russia to accuse Georgia of military intervention and to condemn its ‘aggression’.
10 July In a press conference with President Saakashvili, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for an end to violence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
29-30 July South Ossetia accuses Georgia of shelling villages outside of Tskhinvali. Georgia asserts that South Ossetians directed fire towards its monitoring group.
1 August Explosion in South Ossetia; Georgia reports injury of two policemen.
7 August Georgia sends in its military to Tskhinvali. Russia retaliates with military force.
8 August Both South Ossetia and Georgia lay claim to the disputed territory during intense shelling of Tskhinvali by both sides. Georgia accuses Russia of provoking ‘undeclared war.’ Russia warns Georgia that its ‘aggression’ will not go ‘unpunished.’
President Saakashvili declares a ‘state of war.’

9 August Georgia claims to have shot down two Russian warplanes.
Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba claims Abkhaz forces have embarked upon an operation to drive Georgian forces out of the hotly-disputed Kodori gorge.

10 August Reports of bombs dropped outside of Tbilisi, near a military airport.
Russian diplomat reports death count of 2,000 in South Ossetia; the numbers have not been verified.

Georgia reports to have offered Russia a peace deal, saying it would withdraw its troops from South Ossetia. Russia denied any cessation of armed conflict by the Georgians, and demanded an unconditional withdrawal from South Ossetia.

Georgia reports death of 130 Georgian civilians and 1,165 injuries. Russia rejects the claim that it has hit civilians.

US President George W. Bush declares Russia’s troop build-up to be a ‘disproportionate response’; UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband denounces Russia’s bombing of targets ‘well beyond’ South Ossetia.

11 August Russia stationed more than 9,000 paratroopers in Abkhazia, thus exceeding the limit of 3,000 from the 1994 peace agreement. It continues to move more troops and armour across the border; there are reports that the movement also includes T-72 tanks and Hurricane rocket launchers.
European Commission calls on Russia to ‘stop immediately all military activity on Georgian territory.’

Russia delivers an ultimatum to Georgia: that it must disarm 1,500 troops in Zugdidi, near Abkhazia, which Georgia rejects.

16 August President Medvedev signs six-point EU-brokered ceasefire, which includes a promise to withdraw troops to pre-conflict positions.
17 August Medvedev tells President Nicolas Sarkozy in a telephone conversation that Russian troops will begin to withdraw from Georgia on Monday 18th of August.
19 August Medvedev tells Sarkozy that—contrary to the EU ceasefire—Russian troops will remain in a buffer zone inside Georgia proper on the border with South Ossetia, and the remainder of troops will go back to South Ossetia and to Russia.
NATO freezes its partnership with Russia, and declares normal relations with Russia to be impossible. Statement issued by NAC (North Atlantic Council) emphasizes concern over Georgia’s territorial integrity and the humanitarian situation.

22 August Russia promises a ‘partial’ withdrawal of troops by the end of the day, but claims some “peacekeepers” will be left inside Georgia. US General Craddock calls the move ‘far too little, far too slow’.
26 August Russian President Medvedev formally recognizes the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and accuses Georgian President Saakashvili of using ‘genocide to solve his political problems.’

Peace plan project for South Ossetia

The Commission of National Reconciliation in South Ossetia could become a vital tool for reducing tensions and finding lasting political solutions in the region, argues journalist and analyst Valeriy Dzutsev.

All the sides of the August 2008 conflict in South Ossetia and Georgia as a result lost out either militarily or politically. Tbilisi lost control over the territories and suffered human and material losses. South Ossetia, also having suffered human and material losses, has not acquired international recognition and its state is still precarious. Russia suffered image losses among the CIS countries and found itself internationally isolated. The U.S. did not defend its loyal ally Georgia, as many in Georgia had expected it would.

Besides, there are strong reasons to believe, that no side has achieved what it wanted. Georgia did not regain control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, having lost even those territories, that it had controlled prior to August 2008. South Ossetia even though was recognized by Russia, has not become really an independent country, while its prospects for prosperity and security are almost as uncertain as they were before the latest war. Russia did not gain control over Georgia, that it likely desired, on the contrary all Georgian political forces are united on the question of lost territories and are very anti-Russian.
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Op-Ed on South Ossetia that never made it to the media

Soon after August 2008 war in South Ossetia I tried to publish Op-Eds on the situation there. Either because my Op-Eds were so bad or I sent them to the first rank U.S. papers, they never were published. So I thought, why not to publish them at least in my blog, just for general information.

It has become common wisdom that the Russian government is to blame for every negative development inside Russia and in the surrounding countries. Still, I was astonished to observe how readily the American media followed the Georgian version of the conflict with Russia, without looking much into the substance of this story.

The bulk of the discussion focuses on geopolitics and hardly anyone asks the Ossetians, whose homes were destroyed at the beginning of this latest war in August, for their opinions and concerns. Meanwhile, the fighting has forced more than 30,000 South Ossetians to flee to Russia – the third wave of Ossetian refugees running from Georgia in the past century.
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