Russia finishes giving Georgia licking

Georgia: Russia, the west, the future
Ghia Nodia

The intentions behind the Russian assault on Georgia constitute a political challenge to the west and an existential one to its southern neighbour, writes the minister of education and science in the Republic of Georgia, Ghia Nodia 12 - 08 - 2008

These words are being written when the Russian-Georgian war appeared to shift momentum from the escalation of 11 August 2008 to the announcement on 12 August of a halt to Russian military operations. It is too soon at the time of writing to say that this shift is genuine or definitive; nobody knows where things will stand even in a few hours' time. The terms of the deal to end the war proposed by Moscow, and discussed between the Russian and French presidents (the latter representing also the European Union) on 12 August, suggest that this may only be the beginning of the end - if that.

It is even clearer that nobody can say at this stage what the long-term repercussions of the war will be. One thing is sure, however: after what has happened in these five days, the status quo ante cannot be fully restored - in Georgia itself, in Russian-American relations, or in Russian-European relations.

Ghia Nodia is minister of education and science of the Republic of Georgia. He was appointed to this post on 31 January 2008
The forced choice

The war was unexpected and anticipated at the same time. No one foresaw exactly the way events were to unfold; but for months, diplomats and analysts had talked about the danger of a major Russian-Georgian conflict around one or both of Georgia's so-called "frozen conflicts" (in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia). At the same time, the real role of the frozen conflicts in triggering the fateful events of 8-12 August 2008 should neither be underestimate nor overestimated. True, without the unresolved status of South Ossetia or Abkhazia, Russia and Georgia would not have gone to war. But, on the Russian side, the issue of South Ossetia in general - or of protection of the citizens of Russia residing there in particular - was just a pretext; and this became increasingly evident as the conflict unfolded.

As the international community moved towards stronger condemnation of the Russian aggression, the Georgian government was also under criticism for its alleged failure of judgment when the military attack to occupy Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's provincial capital, was ordered in the early morning of 8 August 2008. Indeed, it looks like the Georgian government displayed political immaturity by falling into a Russian trap.

Thomas de Waal, "South Ossetia: the avoidable tragedy" (11 August 2008) The context of that decision should be understood, however. For months, the Georgian forces inside the enclave within South Ossetia loyal to Tbilisi - as well as those forces across the de facto border - had been systematically attacked using artillery fire and other means. The obvious aim of this was to draw Georgia into an open military confrontation with Russia. Everybody on the Georgian side understood this very clearly, and all efforts were made to avoid such an outcome. However, by exerting this pressure, the Russians - through its puppet-regime in Tskhinvali - were putting the Georgian government into a lose-lose situation. Yes, engaging Russians in an open military confrontation was against Georgian interests. But, by helplessly watching how its citizens were systematically attacked and killed, the Georgian government was losing its credibility incrementally.

The escalation of violence in the days before 8 August demonstrated that what was on the Russians' mind was to wipe out the pro-Georgian enclave within South Ossetia, thus causing a serious humanitarian catastrophe. The news that, around midnignt on 8 August, a large column of Russian tanks entered South Ossetia from the north (and the pro-Georgian enclave is exactly on the main road between the Russian border and Tskhinvali) was the last straw: the decision to take control of Tskhinvali was a desperate attempt to pre-empt the large-scale Russian strike.

From the international public-relations perspective, it would probably have been smarter to allow Russia do whatever she was planning to do and wait for the international indignation afterwards. It is also easy to judge in hindsight. In the event, the Georgian government also felt that it had an obligation to do something to protect its citizens against an open attack. The Georgian government hoped that the Russians would not dare to conduct an undisguised all-out military aggression against Georgia, thus jeopardising its international image and relations with the international community. That did prove a miscalculation.

The true target

Perhaps the most telling illustration of what the Russians are doing in Georgia was something found scrawled on the side of a Russian military jet downed by the Georgian air defence: an obscene verse. The verse mocks the enemy - which is normal in wars. However, neither Georgians nor Ossetians are mentioned: the theme of this piece of doggerel was Russian troops humiliating Nato soldiers.

Whatever the humanitarian rhetoric, what Russia is really doing is a preventive strike against Nato, which happens to take place on Georgian territory. Moscow wants to teach Georgia a lesson for Tbilisi's open and defiant wish to become part of the west; it wants to send a message to the United States and Europe that it will not tolerate further encroachment on its zone of influence; and it wants to make clear to other countries in its neighbourhood (Ukraine first of all) that they are in Russia's backyard and should behave accordingly.

In Georgia proper, the main objective is regime change. At the United Nations Security Council meetings on 8-9 August 2008 convened at short notice to discuss the crisis, the US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad revealed that the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was telling Condoleezza Rice that "(Mikheil) Saakashvili should go"; an indiscretion that provoked rage in his Russian counterpart, on the grounds that it betrayed the confidentiality of diplomatic conversations.

In strategic terms, the Russians want finally to consolidate their control over the separatist territories, and, most importantly, to have a pro-Russian regime in Georgia that would never again dare look in a westerly direction and try to become a western-style democracy. In domestic terms, this will be sold as a major victory over Nato, thus showing that the trend of Russia's humiliation after losing the cold war is broken.

Russia's claims that its forces are defending the Ossetian people from Georgian "genocide" are, in their mimicry of western humanitarian rhetoric, another manifestation of its resentment against the west. Russia took the Nato military operation against Serbia in 1999 as a personal affront; the Russian political elite and a majority of its public considered western talk of "humanitarian intervention" to protect Kosovar Albanians as a particularly cynical way to justify aggression motivated by geopolitical interests. Now Russia is settling scores: we all understand this humanitarian talk is bull**** (it hints to the west), but if you could do this in former Yugoslavia, you do not have any moral right to stop us from doing the same in our backyard.

The other war

Thus, on the global scale, this war poses serious questions to the west and to Georgia: for the west, whether it will accept its strategic retreat vis-à-vis Russia, and concede that the former Soviet Union is a territory where Russia can effectively dominate without formally restoring its erstwhile empire; for Georgia, whether it retains de facto sovereignty and effective statehood. The Russian calculation appears to be that Georgia will descend into chaos as its people express anger at their government for starting a wrong war and wrongly relying on the west, leaving Georgians with but one option: to embrace a new government that will be formally independent but effectively a Russian satellite.

It is uncertain even after Russia's announcement of a cessation of military action on 12 August 2008 that immediate hostilities have ended - to make possible what will come next, a messy political and diplomatic endgame involving Russia, Georgia, Europe, Nato and the west. Whenever that sequence of events happens, however, a moral war which is really at the core of things will continue in parallel. This is a war for the soul and identity of Georgia. Whatever the outcome in terms of territorial control or military-political arrangements, this war is one Georgia cannot afford to lose, and the west cannot afford to ignore.

Georgia's president has agreed to a plan with Russia brokered by France to end fighting in his country.

Source:Yahoo breaking news.
Putin Outmaneuvers the West

By Christian Neef

Russia's strongman Vladimir Putin has achieved his goal in Georgia -- the country has been destabilized. And the West will have to look on powerless when its ally, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, is eventually driven from office.


. Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has announced the end of military operations in the Caucasus for the time being. According to sources in Moscow, some in the Russian military found it very painful to have to halt the advance just 90 kilometers from the office of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The hardliners would have loved nothing more than to do a bit of clearing up in the headquarters of this Georgian hothead.

But hasn't Russia already achieved everything it had set out to achieve? Moscow will now argue that it has fulfilled its "peacekeeping mission" as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin puts it, and that it has stuck to international agreements regarding the Caucasus by protecting one side and restraining the other. Now only one task remains -- Saakashvili needs to go, say the Russians.

And that poses the next quandary for the West. Russia will now stress its readiness to enter negotiations, but only on one condition -- that Saakashvili quits. The Russians will demand that the West (and especially the Americans) let their their darling go.

Russia had already indicated its position on Monday when Putin drew parallels between Saakashvili and Saddam Hussein. One could understand that the Americans had hanged the criminal Saddam, said Putin. But he added that it was a scandal that the US had a totally different stance in the case of Saakashvilli and had even provided eight aircraft to transport the Georgian soldiers stationed in Iraq to join the fighting in Georgia.


( had a feeling that the US / Iraq / SH scenario would be brought up ..........)

BBC continuing news channel: Cease fire = Fragile
BUt the country has not nessacarily been Destablized... according to CBS this morning a huge rally for the government of Georgia happened during a news-confrence with the President... The people in all non-Russia controlled territory still seem Pro democracy even in the face of the Russian on-slaught.
Personally "IMO" seems the best Way for the West to try and keep face would be to gamble with the Presidents life. The Russians have lost Political manuveuring room when it comes to their military because charging further into Georgia could then be looked upon as an act of Invasion instead of saving people from a so-called Genocide.

They simply hold there ground claiming the Country is still pro for the current government and allow further acts to be denounced by the entire world.
Truth be told thou.. The situation is very fragile at best.
Shadow is there any truth to the idea that the current president of Georgia was actively slaugthering pro russian supporters in South Ossetia.. or are they simply saying that the supporters were simply losing ground versus the Pro Georgians Supporters?
I think you are right, Mr.D. (is it ok to call you that??) Even if the status is fragile. This situation is complicated by the fact that the leaders absolutely despise each other. ( info : courtesy of special on BBC)
LoL I don't mind at all that you refer me as Mr.D. I guess its much better then the entire name hehe. I do find the breaking news very intresting thou.. showing that Russia was not in the back story as most of Americans have come to assume. This could work out completely on the western side thou if America plays its cards right since Russia is doing this for political reasoning under the flag of humanitarian actions. Playing the Iraq card will be looked upon for what it is since America DID liberate a country from a dictator that killed his Sunni opponents. (( even if the rest was BS LoL ))
Fleeing from violence: more refugees to cross into Russia
Refugees from the fighting in South Ossetia are continuing to cross into Russia following the opening of a humanitarian corridor on Monday. 34,000 evacuees have already fled the conflict zone, while thousands continue to head for refugee camps in the neighbouring Russian Republic of North Ossetia.

Others would like to leave South Ossetia, but are unable to do so, as the gunfire continues in several districts.

Thousands expected

Alagir camp is the closest to the South Ossetian border. It is a place where refugees are being gathered and sent to Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Rostov-on-Don.

According to Kazbek Vasiev, head of the Alagir region’s administration, almost 1700 refugees have already found temporary shelter in the camp. Many people from North Ossetia are coming to check if any of their relatives are there.

More then 3,000 refugees are expected in the next couple of days. About a thousand of them are reported to be wounded.

Black Sea resort gives shelter to 300

More than 300 Ossetian refugees have found shelter at the Russian Black sea resort of Anapa in the Krasnodar region.The local administration in Anapa provided transportation, housing, food and clothes for the refugees.

Russia says it is prepared to accept any amount of refugees from Tskhinvali on the Black Sea coast. For South Ossetia's women, children and elderly this is one of just a few places where they can feel safe and try to forget the horrors they've seen as Georgia bombed their homes.

Source :
LoL I thought Russia was doing the bombing ...

Also I thinks its very errie to see a Picture of the WTC bombing on an advertisment for a russian newspaper with the words " Fortellers say: Russia will dominate the world "

This mean an end to Mail ordered Brides from Russia ?!?!
WPost and the Great Disconnect

By Robert Parry
August 13, 2008

On Tuesday, the sub-head for the Washington Post’s lead editorial read, “The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest.”

The nation in question, of course, was Russia and the “conquest” was its border clash with neighboring Georgia over two breakaway provinces that want to join the Russian Federation.

But an objective person might note that the sight of “a nation bent on conquest” shouldn’t be “unfamiliar” to Western nations unless they don’t look in the mirror. For example, the United States – with its “coalition of the willing” – invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003.

In that aggression, President George W. Bush had the support of Great Britain, Spain and a host of smaller states, including Georgia. You’d think the Post’s editorial writers would have remembered that since they were leading boosters of the Iraq conquest, pushing the argument that Iraq was threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

As it turned out, Iraq had long since destroyed its stockpiles of WMD, as U.S. intelligence already had been told by senior Iraqi officials who were collaborating with Washington – and as U.N. weapons inspectors were confirming inside Iraq until Bush forced them to depart to make way for his “shock and awe” bombing campaign.

Over the following years, the Post’s editorial page has never formally apologized to the American people – not to mention to the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis – for its readiness to serve as a propaganda organ for the U.S. government.

Beyond that lack of contrition, the Post has continued ugly attacks on Americans who dared dissent against Bush’s false WMD claims.

For instance, the Post’s editorial page and Outlook section have published repeated, scurrilous attacks on former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who blew the whistle on Bush’s use of false intelligence about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger. [For details, see’s “WPost’s Editorial Fantasyland.”]

However, it apparently remains impolite in Washington society to suggest that editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt should be fired.

The Great Disconnect

Instead of any accountability, there’s been the Great Disconnect. The Post’s editorial board simply has decoupled from any memory of its Iraq guilt and instead rolls toward a more comfortable place where the newspaper still stands for what is right and good.

The Great Disconnect was on display in three Post editorials over the past four days as the newspaper fumed over Russia’s routing of U.S.-trained Georgian troops who had launched a sudden offensive against separatist South Ossetia on Aug. 7.

The three editorials run the full gamut of double standards, from evoking a renewed reverence for international law to accusing Russia of deception over the reasons for its counterattack against Georgia.

“The principles at stake, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, apply well beyond the Caucasus,” the Post’s Aug. 9 editorial said, although the reference was to other Russian border states, not to countries that might be on President Bush’s hit list.

The Aug. 11 editorial accused Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of lying to justify the attacks on Georgia. “His brazen invocation of the Big Lie to justify Russia’s aggression – accusing Georgia of ‘complete genocide’ [against South Ossetians] – provided an answer” of how far Putin would go in his autocratic ways, the Post said.

The editorial then turned to tough talk: “The West will have to decide whether to continue its efforts to soothe and placate Mr. Putin, as if he were a petulant child who could be bought off with candy and words of praise, or whether to rise to the geopolitical challenge his regime poses.”

The harsh rhetoric again ignored the mirror image of another “petulant child,” George W. Bush whose lashing out – both in his attacks on other countries and his multiple violations of international law – was aided and abetted by the Post’s editorial board.

The Post also was throwing stones from a glass house when it cited the “Big Lie” technique. Nothing Russia has said in justifying its attacks on Georgia has matched the lies the Bush administration – and the Washington Post – told about Iraq.

By the Aug. 12 editorial, the Post was experiencing convenient memory loss, concluding that the image of a conquering nation was “an unfamiliar sight” to the West. Despite this amnesia, the Post editors insisted that they were the ones with the clarity.

“The most urgent need is to see clearly what is taking place,” the Post opined.

Yet, what truly is taking place is a dangerous disconnect from reality in which Washington’s media and political elites see offenses that others commit (often cast in the harshest light) while averting their eyes from their own equally bad or worse behavior.

Then, if anyone mentions the U.S. misdeeds, the quick reaction from the neoconservatives is to hurl the accusation of “blaming-America-first.”

That is often followed by another favorite neocon attack line, accusing people of “moral equivalence” if they try to hold the United States to the same rules as its adversaries.

In judging American actions, evenhandedness is a sin; double standards are a virtue. Up is down; objectivity is a crime.

So, as alarming as it may be when a Bush administration official mocks “the reality-based community,” as author Ron Suskind once reported, it may be even more troubling when Washington’s premier newspaper de-links from the real world and drifts into a fog of propaganda.

In weeks and years past, each of us has argued that Russia was pursuing a policy of regime change toward Georgia and its pro-Western, democratically elected president, Mikheil Saakashvili. We predicted that, absent strong and unified Western diplomatic involvement, war was coming.

Now, tragically, an escalation of violence in South Ossetia has culminated in a full-scale Russian invasion of Georgia. The West, especially the United States, could have prevented this war. A watershed moment is at hand in the West's post-Cold War relations with Russia.

Exactly what happened in South Ossetia last week is unclear. Each side will argue its own version. But we know, without doubt, that Georgia was responding to repeated provocative attacks by South Ossetian separatists controlled and funded by the Kremlin. This is a not a war Georgia wanted; it believed that it was slowly gaining ground in South Ossetia through a strategy of soft power.

Whatever mistakes Georgia's government made cannot justify Russia's actions. The Kremlin has invaded a neighbor, an illegal act of aggression that violates the United Nations Charter and fundamental principles of cooperation and security in Europe.

Beginning a well-planned war as the Olympics were opening violates the ancient tradition of a truce to conflict during the games. Russia's willingness to create a war zone 40 kilometers from the Black Sea city of Sochi, where it is to host the Winter Games in 2014, hardly demonstrates its commitment to Olympic ideals. In contrast, Russia's timing suggests that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seeks to overthrow Saakashvili well ahead of the U.S. elections, and thus avoid beginning relations with the next president on an overtly confrontational note.

Russia's goal is not simply, as it claims, restoring the status quo in South Ossetia. It wants regime change in Georgia. It has opened a second front in the other disputed Georgian territory, Abkhazia, just south of Sochi. But its largest goal is to replace Saakashvili -- a man Putin despises -- with a president more subject to Kremlin influence.

As Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt pointed out Saturday, Moscow's rationale for invading has parallels to the darkest chapters of Europe's history. Having issued passports to tens of thousands of Abkhaz and South Ossetians, Moscow now claims that it must intervene to protect them -- a tactic reminiscent of one used by Nazi Germany at the start of World War II.

Russia seeks to roll back democratic breakthroughs on its borders, to destroy any chance of further NATO or European Union enlargement and to reestablish a sphere of hegemony over its neighbors. By trying to destroy a democratic, pro-Western Georgia, Moscow is sending a message that, in its part of the world, being close to the United States and the West does not pay.

This moment could well mark the end of an era in Europe during which realpolitik and spheres of influence were supposed to be replaced by cooperative norms and a country's right to choose its own path. Hopes for a more liberal Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev will need to be re-examined. His justification for this invasion reads more like Leonid Brezhnev than Mikhail Gorbachev. While no one wants a return to Cold War-style confrontation, Russia's behavior poses a direct challenge to European and international order.

What can the West do? First, Georgia deserves the West's solidarity and support. The West must get the fighting stopped and preserve Georgia's territorial integrity within its current international border. As soon as hostilities cease, there should be a major, coordinated trans-Atlantic effort to help Tbilisi rebuild and recover.

Second, we should not pretend that Russia is a neutral peacekeeper in conflicts on its borders. Russia is part of the problem, not the solution. For too long, Moscow has used existing international mandates to pursue neo-imperial policies. The West must disavow these mandates and insist on truly neutral international forces, under the United Nations, to monitor a future cease-fire and to mediate.

Third, the West needs to counter Russian pressure on its neighbors, especially Ukraine -- most likely the next target in Moscow's efforts to create a new sphere of hegemony. The United States and the EU must be clear that Ukraine and Georgia will not be condemned to some kind of gray zone.

Finally, the United States and the EU must make clear that this kind of aggression will affect relations and Russia's standing in the West. While Western military intervention in Georgia is out of the question -- and no one wants a 21st-century version of the Cold War -- Russia's actions cannot be ignored. There is a vast array of political, economic and other areas in which Russia's role and standing will have to be re-examined. The Kremlin must also be put on notice that its own prestige project -- the Sochi Olympics in 2014 -- will be affected by its behavior.

Weak Western diplomacy and lack of transatlantic unity failed to prevent an avoidable war. Only strong trans-Atlantic unity can stop this war and begin to repair the immense damage done. Otherwise, we can add one more issue to the growing list of the President George W. Bush's foreign policy failures.

Just goes to show you .. everyone thinks war is wrong.. regardless of whatever our tyranical governments have to say.

Otherwise, we can add one more issue to the growing list of the President George W. Bush's foreign policy failures.
Quite a spectacle in the White House Rose Garden today: George "Butt-Thumper" Bush denouncing Russia for an act of aggression. Bush, with the blood of a million innocent Iraqis dripping from his hands and dribbling from the corners of his smirking mouth, said that Russia's military operations were "damaging its reputation" and were "unacceptable in the 21st century."

The black, bleak hypocrisy of the scene constitutes a kind of all-consuming event horizon, from which no glint of sense or reason can escape. It would almost be funny if people weren't, you know, dying all over the place.

The moral authority of a serial aggressor who keeps a dungeon in his own basement* is a fearsome thing to behold. We're sure that V.V. Putin will really have a long dark night of the soul after this chastisement.

more here:

.........the above speaks my own sentiments exactly.