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Wannabe NATO member on war path

by Jerome a Paris Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:15:25 AM EST

See the update at the bottom of the post on the front page: Russian tanks appear to have crossed the border

Russians accused of 'bombing' Georgia as violence escalates

TBLISI, Georgia (CNN) -- As Georgian troops launched a major military offensive Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, the former Soviet republic's president accused Russia of bombing its territory.

According to the Associated Press, Mikhail Saakashvili said in a televised statement that Russian aircraft bombed several Georgian villages and other civilian facilities Friday morning.

He added that there were injuries and damage to buildings. "A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," he said.

The Wall Street Journal has more detail and background, and it's hard to know who's to blame for the new round of fighting, but what's certain is that Saakashvili is in full belligerent mode, Russia is playing the soothing, slightly mocking diplomat (but it's hard to know what they're doing on the ground) and the US is deeply embarrassed and has so far, thankfully, refused to back the Georgian attemtps to escalate the conflict.

But it's hard to escape the notion that Georgia is keen on (i) fighting with Russia, and (ii) dragging the West in that confrontation with Russia; and it's equally hard to think that this could be a good way under any meanigful definition of "good." Will common sense prevail?

Update via bne:

Russian tanks cross into South Ossetia

Russia’s state-owned Channel 1 is showing pictures of Russian tanks and troops crossing over Russia’s southern border into South Ossetia in a dramatic escalation of the conflict in the afternoon of Friday August 8.

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has just finished speaking to CNN in a live interview. He claims he is reacting to provocation by Russia. He said he was in central Georgia earlier today and personally saw the after affects of two 500kg bombs dropped into the market place of a small town in the country side.

Saakashvili claims that the Russians have egregiously timed the provocation to coincide with the opening of the Olympics in the hope that the world will be distracted by the games and pay little attention to the events unfolding in this geopolitical backwater.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev also made his first statements an hour ago and took a hard line.

“We will not tolerate the death of our citizens going unpunished. Those guilty will receive due punishment,” Interfax reports the president saying.

Georgian media is also reporting that it has shot down two Russian planes, in confirmed reports.

This is increasingly looking like a "hot" war.


On Russia's mocking attitude:

Russia's government blamed Georgia for the fighting, and called on Tbilisi to commit itself to peaceful resolution of the conflict. "The Georgian leadership should come to their senses and return to civilized ways of resolving difficult issues," Russian Foreign Ministry Boris Malakhov said Friday.

On US diplomacy:

At the request of Russia, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in New York but failed to reach consensus early Friday on a Russian-drafted statement. The council concluded it was at a stalemate after the U.S., Britain and some other members backed the Georgians in rejecting a phrase in the three-sentence draft statement that would have required both sides "to renounce the use of force," council diplomats said.

"We think that this is a very serious error of judgment and political blunder," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkins said of the council members' disagreement. "I hope that the Georgian side will reconsider its reckless actions in the area of the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict."

I wonder who the 'other members" of the Security Council joined the US and UK, but I expect it's not the Europeans, otherwise that would have been explicitly mentioned...

Display:
please post it below; the more relevant items can be added above the fold if relevant.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:16:13 AM EST
I blame Georgia

Saaksshvili is a regular in the WSJ Op-Ed pages, calling for NATO membership and calling Europeans wimps and cowards for not standing up to bully Russia while provoking it in every possible way - your standard neocon.

He's been playing martyr to distract from his domestic failures, and he's been trying really hard to drag the West in his petty conflicts with Russia.

Russia has a history of palying hardball in the region, so deep wariness is justified, but he's gone far beyond that.

And I worry about his seeming ability to paint himself as the poor oppressed democrat fighting the big bad bully.

I'd also point out that the West, in pushing Kosovo to declare independence, largely caused this crisis because the situation of South Ossetia and other similar territories in Georgia is very much similar to that of Kosovo. Discourse about the territorial sovereignty of Georgia rings hollow when we ignored it for Serbia (despite Russia's repeated warnings).

We've been playing with fire - again - and have been encouraging a neocon to go provoke the Russians and to drag Europe (via NATO) into the conflict. Swell.

Someone called me:


Of course you blame Georgia...

...because you represent the holdovers from the discredited parts of the European Left that tried to justify any Soviet atrocity because it stood up to those evil Americans.

Russia just invaded an ally and escalated the internal conflict.  The reprehensibility of this does not change just because Bush is in the White House.

(on dKos...)


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow he's really go you pegged, eh?

<bangs head off desk>

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now someone needs to keep me from attacking my computer.  Call the UN!  I need a peace accord between myself and what I am reading on-line, ASAP.  


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:19:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference between Kosovo and South Ossetia is that before the whole mess started in the early nineties Ossetia had a Georgian majority which was ethnically cleansed, while in Kosovo the Serbs were a small minority. I happen to have a rather restrictive view of the time limits on how much stuff like that matters, but a decade and a half doesn't eliminate them completely even in my view, though it does substantially lessen their importance. To use an unfortunately possible analogy, how many years after an ethnic cleansing of South Lebanon or the West Bank would you view the use of force to reverse the situation as an illegitimate provocation?

Another issue - what makes you think that the West 'pushed' Kosovo to declare independence? More like the other way around.

by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to be clear, I do agree that this is remarkably stupid on the part of the Georgians, analogous to a Syrian attempt to reconquer the Golan. Regardless of the rights and wrongs a basic sense of reality seems to be missing.
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

You are confusing Ossetia with Abkazia, are you?
by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:06:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you may be right, sorry. (ethnic proportions - seems it was about sixty-five to thirty Ossetian, for some reason I thought it was the other way around. in which case my sympathy for the Georgian case has markedly decreased. Again, sorry about the screw up.
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

In Abkhazia Georgians were the largest ethnic minority, but after Georgia revoked Abkhazia's autonomy and Georgian-supported criminal bands attacked Abkhazia (which more often than not meant ethnic cleansing for non-Georgians) the ethnic Georgians lost the support of other minorities (Abkhaz, Russians and Armenians).

Also note that in both cases parts of both Ossetia and Abkazia are controlled by Georgia. In case of Ossetia villages with majority Georgian population are controlled by Georgia. Today's attack was against 2/3 of Ossetian territory that is controlled by Ossetian authorities.

Today in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia estimates 1500 are dead:

by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote (Wiki):
A study done in 1871 by Austrian colonel Peter Kukulj[15] for the internal use of the Austro-Hungarian army showed that the mutesarifluk of Prizren (corresponding largely to present-day Kosovo) had some 500,000 inhabitants, of which:

    * 318,000 Serbs (64%),
    * 161,000 Albanians (32%),
    * 10,000 Roma (Gypsies) and Circassians
    * 2,000 Turks
---------
An Austrian statistics[17] published in 1899 estimated:

    * 182,650 Albanians (47.88%)
    * 166,700 Serbs (43.7%)
--------
British journalist H. Brailsford estimated in 1906[18] that two-thirds of the population of Kosovo was Albanian and one-third Serbian.
--------
Talking about ethnic cleansing....

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 07:25:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have the link?

Just from the numbers, I would guess at two possibilities, oppression of Serbs in Prizren or better opportunities for Serbs (but not Albanians) elsewhere.

This being the 19th century, opportunities could be migration to America (a very large proportion of the Swedish population at that time emigrated and generally that happened cluster by cluster). Or it could have been possibilities of employment in new industrial sectors in other regions or countries.

(Btw, if you use Firefox, I really recomend TribExt, it makes it really simple to cut and paste while keeping formats and links.)

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 08:27:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a Wikipedia, I can't find it now...

There are all kinds of pressures...our history is rich (unfortunately).
http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-14804.html

Historically, the first cause of this scattering was the severe oppression of Serbs under Ottoman occupation, which led to migration to the unoccupied territory to the west. After World War II, Yugoslavia's first communist government tried to define the country's postwar federal units to limit the Serbian domination believed largely responsible for the political turmoil of the interwar period. This meant reducing Serbia proper to achieve political recognition of Macedonian and Montenegrin ethnic individuality and the mixed populations of Vojvodina, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Hercegovina (see Formation of the South Slav State , ch. 1).

Between 1948 and 1990, the Serbian share of Kosovo's population dropped from 23.6 percent to less than 10 percent, while the ethnic Albanian share increased in proportion because of a high birth rate and immigration from Albania. The demographic change was also the result of political and economic conditions; the postwar Serbian exodus from Kosovo accelerated in 1966 after ethnic Albanian communist leaders gained control of the province, and Kosovo remained the most poverty-stricken region of Yugoslavia in spite of huge government investments (see Kosovo , ch. 4; Regional Disparities , ch. 3). After reasserting political control over Kosovo in 1989, the Serbian government announced an ambitious program to resettle Serbs in Kosovo, but the plan attracted scant interest among Serbian émigrés from the region.


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 09:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what was the Serb Albanian population ratio in 100 BC?
by MarekNYC on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 09:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Americans are idiots, don't worry about it.
by paving on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:41:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I made the mistake of reading these comments.  For anyone interested in the American CW regarding Russia.

Sometimes I think I'm really being over sensitive about anti-Russian bias in America, etc.  Then I read things like this.  

Tzar wannabe Putin...
Once KGB - ALWAYS KGB!
Beware the despots and oligarchs...

This is how world wars begin...georgia cant stand against russia all by itself but the question is, will someone (Like the USA or NATO) Step in to defend them.

Fortunately, a number of later commenters were of the opinion that maybe we're in enough wars as it is and should stay out of this.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:59:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:18:22 AM EST
Violence Escalates in Fight Over Georgian Province | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 08.08.2008
Fighting between Georgia and Russia is escalating in the battle for control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. In an emergency meeting, the UN failed to issue a peace statement for the region.

Georgia said government troops have regained control over the capital of the breakaway province, in skirmishes that have raised fears of an all out war involving Russia, which supports South Ossetia.

 

An attack orchestrated by the Georgian government in Tbilisi, involves aircraft, armor and heavy artillery.  Fighting is raging in Tskhinvali, the capital of the separatist region of South Ossetia, which has seen ongoing skirmishes for months.

 

Separatist officials in South Ossetia told the Associated Press that at least 15 civilians were killed in the fighting overnight Thursday, Aug. 7, and that many buildings in the Tskhinvali were on fire.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:24:59 AM EST
Tbilisi 'Aggravating the Situation': Abkhazia Threatens Georgia with Second Front - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Georgia's march into South Ossetia has prompted the Abkhazia to begin preparing for war as well. Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba told SPIEGEL ONLINE that his province might open up a second front.

 A Russian peacekeeper mans a checkpoint in the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How is Abkhazia reacting to the events in South Ossetia?

Shamba: We have a deal with South Ossetia on how we will deal with crisis situations. And we are now planning on implementing it. Our security council met all night and ordered our army to deploy this morning to the Georgian border.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Will a second front now be opened in Abkhazia?

Shamba: That depends on how the situation in South Ossetia develops. We understand very well that we Abkhazians are next in line after South Ossetia. If the situation doesn't stabilize again, then we will have to open a second front.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why did the situation suddenly escalate now to the degree it has?

Shamba: After the recognition of Kosovo, the situation intensified and Georgia understands that it is losing South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Further talks will only serve to distance the two republics even further from Georgia. That's why the Georgians themselves have started to aggravate the situation, violating previous agreements and applying constant pressure. That has led to a counter response and the situation has gotten out of control. We actually expected this in Abkhazia, but now it is happening in South Ossetia.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:27:31 AM EST
But it's hard to escape the notion that Georgia is keen on (i) fighting with Russia, and (ii) dragging the West in that confrontation with Russia;

We have a deal with South Ossetia on how we will deal with crisis situations.

Oh, great.  I confess my grasp of European history is not what it should be, but isn't this more or less how WWI got started?  A relatively small territorial dispute pulled in other powers through a web of "security arrangements," creating an ever-wider conflict?  I do not have a good feeling about where this is going.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?

by budr on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's a matter of who wants to get their war on. I think WWI really happened because everyone was just about ready for a big fight: treaties provided excuses to have it.

I'm sort of hoping that we're not in the mood for a war right now ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you are right.

Now where are we going and what's with the handbasket?
by budr on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WWII happened after a long and very obvious build-up, with much diplomatic showmanship, and a couple of previous annexations.

Since Georgia isn't in NATO (yet) the NATO mutual defence clause doesn't kick in, so this is likely to remain a continuing and increasingly nasty local dispute.

It will probably push up the price of oil - which (cynic mode on) is possibly one of the reasons it's happening.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:47:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the goal is to jack up prices, it seems not to be working - oil is down to $116 right now...

Apparently, the big pipeline going through Georgia has been down for several days because of a bobm attack ... in Turkey (PKK claiming credit), but this is actually helping prices go down now, because it apeears the curt will be shorter than expected...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a number of differences. Foremost among them is the fact that both the Russian and European economies would break down after less than three months of serious shooting war between Russia and NATO - and everybody on all sides know this. In WWI, everybody thought that the war was going to be quick and profitable, just like all the good little wars they'd had in the 19th century. Well, profitable for the rich, at least.

And then, of course, there's the fact that nobody is particularly interested in seeing their capital illuminated by the soft afterglow of a mushroom cloud...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:21:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And then, of course, there's the fact that nobody is particularly interested in seeing their capital illuminated by the soft afterglow of a mushroom cloud...

True enough.  But......

There's a continuum of coercive action that one state can take against another that runs from doing nothing to thermonuclear war.

Economic sanctions being the most likely.

A US embargo on Russian oil is a nice toothless measure (because the US imports only a small amount from Russia) that will have tremendous symbolic consequences.

It's when the big boys get into pissing matches that everybody else just gets pissed on.

Even a small, symbolic cut in Russian oil output could have a big impact on prices, because demand is so tight.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True. But there's a long shot from a temporary oil shock to WWIII. The former I can live with. The latter... not so much.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:43:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't take much of a "temporary oil shock" to send struggling economies into a tailspin.

And in countries like China, Indonesia, and Iran maintaining subsidies for gas will be hard, and without them there's bound to be a lot of civil unrest.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:48:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think NATO is going to step in. For one, how would they? It's very inaccessible territory (and very accessible for the Russians). There is also the matter of Georgia apparently being the party that has chosen to escalate the conflict, by opening a large scale offensive and shelling a city.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:05:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on how the media coverage washes out. If the Georgians manage to paint this as poor little Georgia against the resurgent Russian bear things could get very stupid ... and there's a US Presidential election on where at least some people think war is good for Republicans ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:07:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the U.S. does not have the option to step in. Russia can probably overrun Georgia in a matter of days, if it chooses. The U.S. can only get there by air, or through north-east Turkey. Turkey could probably get its military in quickly, but I don't see them doing that.

The media imagery will also depend on Russia's actions. I hope they constrain themselves to South Ossetia.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:19:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WWI was started because the German elite wanted a war with Russia. They used the Austro-Serb crisis to get one. As they well knew, that meant war with France, plus a good chance of getting the Brits in as well. I don't think anyone here is looking for an excuse to start a World War.
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French elite weren't exactly against a war with Germany, too.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They weren't actively seeking one. The Germans were - they felt they needed to destroy Russia sooner rather than later, wanted to get their 'rightful' place in Europe and the world, plus felt it would be a good way of solving domestic tensions. The French weren't reluctant to go to war unlike 1939, but they weren't into starting one on their own. At least that's been the historiographical consensus since the dust settled from the arguments started by Fritz Fischer's Griff nach der Weltmacht (1961, English title "Germany Aims in WWI)
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:31:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am trying (failing) to remember the name of the french union leader that was murdered in the early days of the war, in all probability to prevent him playing a leading role against the war. You can not google keywords you do not remember.

Though elites are hardly acting as one anyway.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you talking about Jaures? Leader of the Socialists. Murdered by a hardline nationalist outraged at his lack of 'patriotism'.
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:07:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did indeed (thank you!), and as circumstances surrounding his death was different then I remembered them, I withdraw what would have been my orginal comment.

(To be less cryptic: As I remembered it, the murderer had more connections with the elite then it turns out. Had my memory been correct one could have argued that this murder was a symptom of french elites wanting the war. But that does not seem to be the case.)

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, a very large share of the French wanted the war, and not only the elites. The education system, the army, had been propagandising about a revenge against the Germans since 1870.

Don't forget at the time nationalism had been a left-wing idea ; in 1870 the republicans were in favour of continuing the fight, against the monarchists and bonapartists who had agreed to an armistice.

Many events in France before the war can be understood as part of the war preparations against Germany : for example the Dreyfus affair started as a espionage scandal as Germany had gained access to secret artillery designs.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:24:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was Jean Jaurès.
by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
War in the Caucasus: Russia Moves to Back South Ossetia against Georgia - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Georgian forces began bombarding the South Ossetian capital on Thursday night and are now closing in on the city. Russia has warned of unspecified consequences, but may have begun bombing Georgian villages.

For months, tension has been rising in the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on Russia's southern border. Late Thursday, the tension erupted into war, when Georgian ground forces, reinforced from the air, attacked separatist troops in an effort to re-establish control of the tiny region. Intense fighting has continued into Friday and there are reports of 15 civilian deaths, along with casualties among Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Friday that his army had "freed" parts of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali. His prime minister, Lado Gurgenidze, said the offensive would continue until a "durable peace" had been established. A Georgian military leader said on TV that the operation aimed at "establishing a constitutional order in the region."

With Russia backing the South Ossetians, however, the violence threatens to become a larger regional war. Georgia has long said Russian "peacekeepers" stationed in South Ossetia were unwelcome. On Friday the Interior Ministry in Tibilisi claimed that three Russian jets flew into Georgian airspace and dropped bombs on the Georgian side of South Ossetia's border. Saakashvili said that several Georgian villages had been hit.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:29:12 AM EST
The non-permanent UN Security Council Members are Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Panama, South Africa and Vietnam.

Panama and Croatia are the only others I could imagine.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:30:16 AM EST
Reuters has this:


The 15 Security Council members began meeting late on Thursday and remained behind closed doors for two hours until early Friday morning to discuss the three-sentence statement.

But council diplomats said one phrase in it was unacceptable to the Georgians, backed by the United States and Europeans. That wording called on all sides in the conflict "to renounce the use of force," according to a draft of the text.

After failing to agree, the council decided not to take any action on the issue, the diplomats said.

(...)

French, British and other Western envoys also called for all sides to stop fighting and resume negotiations. French Deputy Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix told reporters the council would probably come back to the issue.

AFP has this:


Belgium's UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, who chairs the council this month, said members "expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence and asked for an immediate resumption of dialogue".

But he also acknowledged that, due to the late hour, the 15-member council "was not in a position" to agree on a text.

The key sticking point, according to Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, was "the reluctance" of some council members to accept a reference to the need for the warring parties "to renounce the use of force."

(...)

The Georgian envoy said several council members backed his call on Russia to end "the transit of military equipment and mercenaries" through its territory in support of the South Ossetia separatists.

Meanwhile France's deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix urged "an immediate resumption of dialogue with a view to a ceasefire," warning that the escalating violence was "a clear threat to peace and security in the region."

Xinhua has this:


Diplomats said that during the closed-door consultations, the council failed to reach an agreement on the Russian text because some council members, including the United States, opposed the part calling on the parties to "renounce the use of force."

Kommersant notes this (not about UNSC, but about reactions):


EU Demands an Immediate Stop to the Violence, U.S. Wants Russia to Stop It

The European Union is extremely concerned about the development of events in South Ossetia and is calling on all sides in the conflict to stop the violence in the region immediately, Reuters reports. "We are following this very closely, we are very concerned by how the situation is evolving," an EU official told the information agency, who added that the EU is in contact with all interested international parties, including the United States, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

An American senator made a similar appeal earlier, although his interpretation of the events had a twist. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) called on Russian peacekeepers to put an end to the military action. The world is watching Russia's actions, and so Moscow should take immediate action to restore peace in South Ossetia, Biden said.

Biden also praised Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for urging calm and restraint in the region. Clearly Biden, like many other American politicians, prefers to believe the official position of Tbilisi that South Ossetia began the military actions by attacking Georgian villages and Russian peacekeepers are helping the separatists.

CNN also reflects that different take, with this title: Russians accused of 'bombing' Georgia as violence escalates...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:30:34 AM EST
Maybe I'm missing something here - but isn't it the Russians who are asking both sides to renounce the use of violence? Then why are only they being asked to stop?

As my boss has done a good amount of work in North Ossetia, which has long & deep ties with the Russians, so I wonder if that is true with South Osetia? I suspect there is a lot of convoluted history involved.

Can anyone say more about what is up with Georgia? Why are their claims to these countries so important that they are willing to risk war?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are their claims to these countries so important that they are willing to risk war?

See the first 3 words in the title of this post...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:06:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
isn't it the Russians who are asking both sides to renounce the use of violence? Then why are only they being asked to stop?

Welcome to the wonderfully surreal world of Western (eh, you know what I mean) journalism and politics!

I particularly enjoy the WSJ headline, "Russian Conflict Escalates: Russia and pro-U.S. ally Georgia were on the brink of war, with Russian troops and tanks moving into Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia."    

I hope that much spinning makes them sick to their stomachs...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:44:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote:
Welcome to the wonderfully surreal world of Western (eh, you know what I mean) journalism and politics!
--------
Yeah!If only you/we can see what was a real situation during wars in ex-YU...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 08:09:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another lesson from Kosovo. This plays into Russia's hands not because Russia has a free reign for a retaliation, but now Russia will more aggressively arm the separatists.

Russia overrunning Georgian positions and seizing land accomplishes nothing for Russia, because unless they occupy, they just have to give it back.

On the other hand, if you arm citizens and trigger a bloody guerrilla war, you can have a nasty ethnic fight and wash your hands of the whole affair at the same time. Once you turn two peoples against one another, you'll have a devil of a time putting the genie back in the bottle. That's what the Russians are counting on. Russian military force cannot achieve separation, in this instance. Only a bloody civil war can do that.

So, Russia renounces force, and the Georgian military does as well, and what's left? Guerrillas.

by Upstate NY on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 03:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
99% of South Ossetia voted for independence from Georgia in a recent referendum.  Mostly, they already see themselves as separate.  This is not exactly organized by Russia.  You can make an argument that it was provoked by Russia meddling about.  But you can't simply choose to ignore the fact that Saakashvili is on a very clear mission here.  This has the potential to be good for Russia, but it also has the potential to be bad for it too.  The Russian stock market has already plunged.  A fierce propaganda was has begun.  Which they certainly did not need.  I'm not sure getting themselves bogged down in another ethnic conflict in the Caucasus, esp/ so close to the site of the Sochi Olympics, is beneficial.  ...

Which makes me wonder what those who are now calling for respect for Georgian territorial integrity, despite the desires of the South Ossetians, thought of the war in Chechnia.  Is it a set of values which guides us, or do we simply decide what to condone and condemn based upon which side the Kremlin happens to be on?  

So, Russia renounces force, and the Georgian military does as well, and what's left?

Or Georgia could do what it did today and begin attacks less than 24 hours after agreeing to cease the use of force...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 03:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm only answering the question posed...

Renouncing violence from both parties does not mean that violence ends or that tensions cease.

As in Kosovo, you always have other actors in the field ready to rile things up.

Russia doesn't gain from a full-fledged war. They gain much more by supporting rebels.

by Upstate NY on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 04:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My first impression went back to Reagan's 1983 invasion of Grenada, Urgent Fury as it was called. It was a quick operation that had an enormous psychological impact on public opinion after the Vietnam debacle. Russia needs to show the world, especially the US, NATO and border states that they mean to react- with urgent fury- to safeguard their interests.

Russia will continue to foster rebels throughout the ex-Soviet states but will at times feel it necessary to demonstrate their might. Ukraine has no doubt got the message today.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 05:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Today.Az: Rasim Musabeyov: "In case Georgia wins, arguments for the peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict will weaken, giving place to military counteraction"
- How would you comment on the recent events in South Ossetia, particularly, the decision of Georgian officials to settle the conflict by force?

  • Russia rendered all assistance to separatists of South Ossetia up to the military and technical support and if it continued further, Georgia would have faced the annexation of Moscow. It is now difficult to say how far the Georgian side will go. The decision of the Georgian officials is too risky. We hope that the Georgian leadership has taken into account all risks and consequences of such a decision.

  • How will the victory of Georgian armed forces in restoration of control over the South Ossetia influence Nagorno Karabakh conflict?

  • I think in case Georgia wins, arguments for the peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh will weaken, giving place to military counteraction. Peace negotiations are being held with no progress for the past 15 years. Georgians also have had these peace talks for 15 years. In the result Georgia chose the forced way of the conflict resolution. Georgia's actions are a model composition of the resolution of the conflict issue for Azerbaijan. The actions of the Azerbaijani side in the negotiation process will become more radical as they will have more substantiated arguments.

Goes into the 'No one could have predicted' file. There are more frozen conflicts along the Russian border, some of them with direct interest to Russia, others which merely threaten to further instability. Russia has a big stake in this.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:40:31 AM EST
Tskhinvali had been shelled by heavy artillery and MLRSs for the last 15 hours and there is no internet or cell phone communication with the city for the last 12 hours.

Before that people there were reporting heavy damage to the city, and Georgians several times claimed to have "liberated" Tskhinvali since morning; street fighting is going on.

North Ossetia is getting huge influx of the refugees, and South Ossetia reports 5 Ossetian villages completely destroyed by the Georgian forces.

Saakashvili announced full mobilization of the reservists.

Georgian reports of Russian planes look like typical disinformation - there is no military need to attack Georgian villages outside Ossetia - in case of a strike the targets should be Georgian planes, tanks, artillery and MLRSs around Tskhinvali.

by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:56:41 AM EST

Several Russian new sites report that according to Russian "1st" TV channel Russian tanks and heavy machinery are entering South Ossetia.
by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 07:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, what fun. Pack of loonies.

I take it that this happening on the opening day of the Olympics isn't a coincidence?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there's much of a connection.  This has been brewing for a while.  Timing seems to be precipitated much much more by recognition of Kosovo's independence than by any Olympics.  In fact, the timing is terrible.  For a few days the whole world is trying to at least pretend to be friends, world leaders just want to sit back and watch the show from their cozy box seats, and Saak's chosen this week to get his war on?  Looks like he didn't get the memo.

As nanne has repeated, "no one could have predicted this...."  Sigh.  Forget your pack of loonies.  Why are the leaders in the Western world so astoundingly short-sighted?!  Shocked when their actions have unpleasant consequences.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Coverage is going to be significantly diluted by Olympic coverage - and all the leaders are, as you say, out of position. If you wanted to launch a dubious war it's not a bad time to do it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.  No one will notice if we try to provoke the Russians into a war if we do it during the Olympics.  It won't be on the front page of the BBC, NYT, WSJ, or anything.  ... I don't doubt that was their thinking.  Doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

FWIW, 1) I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole right to self determination / territorial integrity debate.  I think there are valid positions on both sides of that debate.  But at the end of the day, regardless if you are your own country or under the auspices of another, you simply have to learn to live with your neighbors.  2) I'd also be pissed if Russia decided to start a war on the eve of the Olympics, which are supposed to celebrate peace.  That's just the height of rude and arrogant.  It's kinda sick.  I think.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:35:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks as if Georgia started rolling the tanks in.

The Russians could have sat it out, but that would have had implications at home and abroad. So they've rolled their tanks in too.

Saak is looking more and more like another Balkan nutter. How insane do you have to be to send in your tiny military force against a rogue province with Russian protection?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:47:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're absolutely assuming that this hasn't been planned with advice from the US and UK.
by Upstate NY on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 03:24:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't have to assume that to conclude that Saak acts like "another Balkan nutter." Quite a few of the Balkan nutters were probably involved with the UK and US... Doesn't make it any less nuts, though. If they keep up like this, the Russians are going to kick the Georgians all the way out of South Ossetia, and there's damn all anybody can or will do about it.

As for what happens after that... I wouldn't care to place any expensive bets. But I'm pretty sure it's going to be less pleasant for Georgia than the status quo ante.

Unless somebody has decided that Georgia's entry into NATO would be expedited by a declaration of autonomy and/or Russian occupation of South Ossetia and that a few hundred Russian and Georgian soldiers and a couple of thousand Ossetians is an acceptable price to pay for bringing Georgia into the fold. But that idea comes a bit too close to tin-foil-hat territory for my taste. And it also assumes that Georgia believes that they do not have a long-term future in Ossetia anyway, which I'm not sure is a realistic assumption...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 03:39:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's talk specifics, what Balkan nutters?

With Vance-Owen, those nutters agreed to a peace deal in 1991.

4 years later, after 100k dead, they ended up with the same deal they wanted originally.

So, nothing really backfired on them. They wanted Republika Srpska, they got it. nThere were two choices, apparently. Srpska with 100k people alive, or Srpska with 100k people dead.

Their decisions were no more nutty than the recent decisions of Americans and Brits.

by Upstate NY on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 04:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their decisions were no more nutty than the recent decisions of Americans and Brits.

You're really setting the bar quite low there...  


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it has been set low already.

The Balkans are reviled for their murderous ways, and meanwhile, others in the so-called civilized countries of Europe and N. America conduct 30 year wars, mass genocides, and complete annihilations of ethnic groups. As someone born in the Balkans, it does get me that my local murderers are somehow considered less civilized than the murderers further afield.

by Upstate NY on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 07:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the guys who pushed for Kosovar independence behind the back of the UN? That qualifies as nutty in my book. And they certainly had more than tacit support from certain Great Powers...

Although I must say that I did put "Balkan nutter" in scare quotes precisely because they aren't quite as much nuts as they are sometimes made out to be.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 02:28:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem in Kosovo as in Bosnia was creating the conditions for wars that inevitably required separation.

I'm not of the illusion that the Kosovo Albanians could ever live under the Serbs again. But when you prop up the KLA and diminish the importance of Rugova, then a separation WILL HAPPEN.

by Upstate NY on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 02:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cross posting from today's Salon:

Peter Lavelle Blog @ Russia Today Why South Ossetia, why now?

There are more than rumours of war in Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia. People are being killed. And the way things are going, it is very likely some kind of war is on the horizon. However, South Ossetia does not want war, nor does Russia. That cannot be said of Georgia. If this is the case, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will sorely regret it.

A parting thought: Saakashvili has it all wrong. The use of force or the threat of force demonstrates just how bankrupt his vision for a united Georgia is. He wants reconciliation through the barrel of a gun. How can one truly and honestly resolve differences when one party puts a gun to the head of the other?

by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 07:00:53 AM EST
[Starvid's Rysskräck Technology™]

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 08:49:16 AM EST
Forbes: Georgia announces three-hour ceasefire - Tbilisi mayor
Georgia will cease attacks on the breakaway region of South Ossetia for three hours on Friday to allow civilians to leave, the mayor of Tbilisi told Georgian television.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:22:25 AM EST
Getting two lines from Thomson Financial's local guy, makes them look really inept.  It´s fourth-hand info.

What power to speak for Georgia´s army can the mayor of Tbilisi have?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 03:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT/AP: France working on cease-fire plan for So. Ossetia
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's office says he is trying to draw up a cease-fire plan in the crisis over Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia.

The Foreign Ministry says Kouchner has spoken to all sides in the conflict. It says "his immediate objective is to obtain a cease-fire and he is working on drafting one."

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:24:14 AM EST
Reuters: Russian jets bomb Georgian airbase - Tbilisi
Russian jets bombed the Vaziani military airbase outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Friday, a senior Georgian security official told Reuters.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:28:29 AM EST
Reuters Global News Blog - Was South Ossetia's Fate Sealed in Kosovo?
By Giles Elgood

Is Kosovo to blame for the fighting in South Ossetia?

When the Serbian province seceded from Belgrade in February, South Ossetia was quick to reassert its own claim to international recognition.


More from the 'No one could have predicted' department. Good to see someone in the press pick it up.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 09:32:45 AM EST
A monogram on Medvedev's Russia published by Limes in May (Progetto Russia) expected- rather than predicted- Russian military interventions not only there but elsewhere in the ex-USSR. The article by Vitalij Tret'jakov, "Project Russia: What Putin and Medvedev Want" argues that Russia will have to step up military pressure throughout the ex-republics to reaffirm its sovereignty and contrast American ambitions. It's realpolitik in its purest form.

Here is a brief English video with text on Russia's expected consolidation along its borders.

An article in Italian published nearly three weeks ago already discussed the possibility of Russian military activity in South Ossetia. One is tempted to wonder if Georgia and the US have secret accords.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but that bit in English makes it sound very much as though this is about Russia having imperialist ambitions and wanting to reconquer the areas it lost when the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Of course, I can't read the minds of those running Russia, know what their fantasies are.  That may very well be the plan.  But let's stick to what is actually occurring in reality, and leaving fortune telling to the fortune tellers.  What is happening in reality is wildly complicated, but South Ossetia appears to want complete freedom from Georgia.  So there is conflict between the Georgian gov't. and the separatists in South Ossetia.  Russia has agreed to defend the South Ossetians.  Out of the kindness of their hearts, or for personal gain?  I'm not aware of any country whose foreign policy is based on charity and not self-interest, but apparently this is expected of Russia.  Anyway, Russia said to Georgia, if you attack, we will retaliate.  But frankly, we'd prefer no war.  So, Georgia waited until they thought no one was looking, and attacked.  Russia responds, and suddenly Russia is painted as the aggressor.  That's just not entirely accurate, is it?  Regardless who stands to gain what, by all accounts, Georgia wanted this conflict more than Russia did.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My comment refers to "No one could have predicted..."

Unfortunately the article I refer to is not available on line nor do I have a copy at hand. I will definitely reread it later at home.

The sequence of events as reported by Italian correspondents in Georgia lays the initiative of hostilites squarely on Georgia's shoulders- as if it were them who "waited for the Olympics." Russia has simply acted as expected, especially with the death of Russian citizens. But I suppose a debate on who started can go on til we're blue in the face.

The larger geopolitical scenario has Russia acting as any power who wishes to reassert its authority within its sphere of influence especially when another power on the world scene encroaches on its very borders. Russia cannot be expected to sit and wait while Saakashvili openly courts NATO. You needn't be a fortune teller to figure that out.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 12:46:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks so much for this.  Seems like yesterday everyone was agreeing to a ceasefire.  There was nothing on the news here in the US about this last night or this morning, and just now I open my e-mails to find, uhm, there appears to be a war. Gah.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 10:40:19 AM EST
President of Ukraine sends his special envoy to Tbilisi : Ukraine News by UNIAN
President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko sends deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Kostyantyn Yeliseyev as his special envoy to Tbilisi.

The special envoy will visit Georgia to carry out consultations with the Georgian leadership, representatives of OSCE and other international organizations, to study the situation in the region, and to inform about the key elements of the Ukraine's position concerning the ways of peaceful settlement of the conflict.



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:20:51 AM EST
Medvedev orders humanitarian aid for South Ossetia

MOSCOW, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered that humanitarian aid be provided to people affected by the ongoing conflict between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Georgia launched a large-scale offensive against the province during the night, using tanks, combat aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry.

"The president has instructed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by the escalation of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict," the Kremlin press service said.

According to various reports, a large part of the republic's capital, Tskhinvali, has been destroyed. South Ossetian authorities are reporting numerous civilian casualties. There are also casualties among peacekeepers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "A Russian humanitarian convoy has come under fire. Panic is growing among the local population, and the number of refugees is increasing. There are reports of ethnic cleansing in some villages... The situation is ripe for a humanitarian catastrophe."




"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:26:07 AM EST
Voice of Russia
Calls for truce and meaningful talks between the sides have also come from NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The former issued a special statement in Brussels, and the latter spoke on the telephone with the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

France says it is discussing the situation with Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and Europe's OSCE security organization. The Russian NATO Ambassador Dmitri Rogozin is back in Brussels from a vacation



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:56:48 AM EST
NATO Press Release(2008)100

The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is seriously concerned about the events that are taking place in the Georgian region of South Ossetia and said that the Alliance is closely following the situation.

The Secretary General calls on all sides for an immediate end of the armed clashes and direct talks between the parties



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 11:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DNA - World - Georgian troops retreat under Russian onslaught - Daily News & Analysis

TBILISI: Georgian security forces have been forced to retreat amid Russian bombardment in a fierce battle for control of the South Ossetian rebel capital of Tskhinvali, officials said.   

"Russian armed forces are bombarding Tskhinvali," Georgian interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said after earlier claiming complete control of the city. "We have lost control over some parts of the city."   

Russian news agencies quoted witnesses and officials as saying hundreds of civilians had been killed. Buildings were ablaze and dead Georgian soldiers seen alongside destroyed tanks in the streets.   

A spokesman for Russian army chief Vladimir Boldyrev was quoted as saying that Russian tank and artillery units had destroyed Georgian positions around the city after entering separatist South Ossetia earlier on Friday.   

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 01:26:06 PM EST
Latest dispatches here have Bush and Putin discussing the matter in Beijing where both deserted the opening. Rice is sending an envoy to Georgia while Russia sent a note to NATO members asking (advising?) them to no longer support Georgia after the "open agression." The UN Security Council will hold another session within the next hour.

As already reported here the Russians have apparently wiped out most Georgian military bases around Tskhinvali and appear to control almost the entire province.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect the Georgian tactic here is to be roundly defeated by the Russians and then try to make it a situation where the big neighborhood bully is picking on them, hoping nobody remembers who started it...
by paving on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:25:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Look!  See?  Russia's invaded Georgian territory and started a war against us!  Isn't this exactly what Nato is meant to protect against?  Now you have to let us in ..."

It is a bit messy.  I've read Georgia is withdrawing 1000 troops from Iraq to send them to S Ossetia.  US can't be thrilled about that.  And I cannot for the life of me see what the US has to gain by getting involved in a war against Russia.  Sadly, I didn't see what we had to gain by invading Iraq either.  Sigh...  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 02:31:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally, some relatively responsible coverage:

Canadian Press: Georgia makes a power play and a big gamble in South Ossetia move

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 04:44:27 PM EST

Although the United States and other NATO members have sent substantial aid to build up Georgia's once-shabby military, diplomats have often shown clear discomfort with Saakashvili's headstrong ways.

Ironic how Russian oil revenue gets lent to the USG which uses the money to supply Georgia with MLRS rockets killing Russian citizens.

by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 05:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian oil revenue gets lent to the USG

What is the USG?  And how is Russian oil revenue being lent to the States?  

Ya gotta love how America arms the world and then can't figure out why those on the other end of those barrels don't like us.  It must be cause they hate our freedom.  Yeah.  That's it...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 05:35:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

US government. The substantial part of about 600 bln $  in Russian foreign reserves and stabilization fund is invested into t-bills (USG debt) and also into Fannie Mae (propping US housing market).

Russia sells oil, gets unneeded money which free marketers in economic block are saying is too risky to spend inside Russia and lends the money to the USG so that USG can spend more on Georgian arms.

by blackhawk on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Georgian arms aren't really a significant expense. As far as spending it inside Russia - doesn't it already have some inflation issues? It has to park that money someplace, the choices for liquid investments of that scale are pretty much limited to the US and the Eurozone.
by MarekNYC on Fri Aug 8th, 2008 at 06:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, good report (by the Associated Press).

Joerg and I have also flagged it in this Atlantic Review post.

Meanwhile, old Anne has a halfway sensible / halfway propagandistic take, and Doug Muir has a useful piece on the territory.

This is looking pretty fucked up for Saakashvili. He lost his long shot on the first day. The question now would be how much of the Georgian army he wants destroyed before he gives in.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 05:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here by the hour:
http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/28684

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 09:10:10 AM EST
3:16 GMT - Russia considers bringing the killing of peacekeepers to the international court - Foreign Ministry.

13:03 GMT - Tbilisi may ask the West for military aid - head of Georgia's national security council.

There is no logic to depend on it nowadays...
International court is USA/EU court...in them again Tbilisi put hope of intervention against Russia...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 10:02:15 AM EST
You have the wrong impression of the ICC. The USA (the Republicans at least) has been very hostile towards it.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 03:50:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, Serbia is trying to challenge Kosovo's declaration of independence in the World Court (not the ICC, but it's not clear which one the original message in this thread referred to), while the West is opposed.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 05:37:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link.

There are too many international courts in The Hague ;-)

International Criminal Court (since 2002)
International Court of Justice (World Court) (since 1946)
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (since 1993)

Plus the appeals chamber for the Rwanda court.

All of these courts are distinct, which may cause confusion.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 08:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/28684

14:19 GMT - Russia's Interfax news agency quotes locals in Georgia claiming convoys of `NATO military vehicles' are travelling to South Ossetia.

----
Is it possible?

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 11:29:46 AM EST
No.

Sounds like typical war-time propaganda to rile up the Russian people.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 12:55:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone know if the Georgian army has Humvees or other distinctively American hardware?
by Gag Halfrunt on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 02:08:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia claims it's mostly ex-Soviet stuff, thought the Israelis have been selling them something or the other.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 02:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They haven't, though they have Turkish armored cars, Czech rocket artillery, Slovak tube artillery and the rest is pretty much Soviet gear.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Aug 11th, 2008 at 08:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday on the news I saw a clip of a Russian APC towing a khaki Humvee that had presumably been abandoned by Georgian soldiers.
by Gag Halfrunt on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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