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http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/russia-re...8139076806.html

Russian warplanes bombed Georgian targets yesterday, the Tbilisi government said, after Georgian forces surrounded and shelled the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Amid spiralling tensions, reports said Russian forces on peacekeeping duty in South Ossetia had been killed and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned his country would retaliate against Georgia's offensive in the Caucasus trouble spot.

At least 15 civilians were killed in the fighting and Georgian shelling and air raids on the separatist capital Tskhinvali, reports and South Ossetian officials said.

The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) led international calls for a ceasefire in South Ossetia - which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s - but the United Nations failed to agree on a Russian statement urging Georgia and the rebels to halt the fighting.

Georgia accuses Russia of seeking to take over South Ossetia.

A witness saw Georgian forces fire more than a dozen missiles towards South Ossetia from a position inside Georgia and witnessed helicopters and hundreds of soldiers in trucks moving towards the region.

A large plume of smoke rose from Tskhinvali shortly after dawn and explosions and heavy weapons continued regularly as they had all night.

The Russian military said a barracks for Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali was hit and that some troops were killed, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

"As a result of the Georgian artillery shelling there are fatalities among the peacekeepers," a representative of the Russian command was quoted as saying.

Three Russian Sukhoi-24 aircraft entered Georgian airspace, a Georgian interior ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

"One of them dropped two bombs close to the police station in Kareli," spokesman Shota Utiashvili said, referring to a Georgian village near South Ossetia.

There were also reports of a Russian air raid near Gori, the main Georgian city near South Ossetia.

In announcing that Georgia's operation had succeeded, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian bombers had attacked "peaceful" Georgian cities.

"Most of South Ossetia's territory is liberated and is controlled by Georgia," Saakashvili said in televised comments.

He said Russia was conducting flights over Tskhinvali and added: "I demand Russia stop bombardment of peaceful Georgian cities."

But Putin, the former Russian president who is now its influential prime minister, condemned Georgia's "aggressive actions" and said his country would have to retaliate.

"It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia," said Putin in Beijing.

"They have in effect begun hostilities using tanks and artillery," he added.

"It is sad, but this will provoke retaliatory measures."

Putin said he had discussed the crisis with Chinese leaders and with US President George Bush.

"Everybody agrees - nobody wants to see a war."

A Kremlin spokesman said President Dmitry Medvedev was considering "emergency measures" in response to the Georgian attack.

Russia called a special meeting of the UN Security Council which expressed concern over the fighting but could not agree on a Russian statement urging the warring sides to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.

The United States called on both sides to stop the fighting.

"We're urging Moscow to press South Ossetia's de facto leaders to stop firing. We're urging Tbilisi to maintain restraint," Gonzalo Gallegos, a US State Department spokesman, told reporters.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said earlier that his forces still controlled Tskhinvali.

"We fully control our capital. The battle is continuing on the outskirts of Tskhinvali," Kokoity was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The situation is completely under control."

In recent months, Moscow and Tbilisi have sparred repeatedly over South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia.

Georgia's pro-Western government accuses Moscow of seeking to annex the two regions and derail its efforts to join the transatlantic NATO alliance, which Russia vehemently opposes.

The Georgian offensive came within just hours of reports that Georgia and South Ossetia agreed to meet today for talks and the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Georgian president.

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http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/russia-re...8139076806.html

Russian warplanes bombed Georgian targets yesterday, the Tbilisi government said, after Georgian forces surrounded and shelled the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Amid spiralling tensions, reports said Russian forces on peacekeeping duty in South Ossetia had been killed and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned his country would retaliate against Georgia's offensive in the Caucasus trouble spot.

At least 15 civilians were killed in the fighting and Georgian shelling and air raids on the separatist capital Tskhinvali, reports and South Ossetian officials said.

The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) led international calls for a ceasefire in South Ossetia - which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s - but the United Nations failed to agree on a Russian statement urging Georgia and the rebels to halt the fighting.

Georgia accuses Russia of seeking to take over South Ossetia.

A witness saw Georgian forces fire more than a dozen missiles towards South Ossetia from a position inside Georgia and witnessed helicopters and hundreds of soldiers in trucks moving towards the region.

A large plume of smoke rose from Tskhinvali shortly after dawn and explosions and heavy weapons continued regularly as they had all night.

The Russian military said a barracks for Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali was hit and that some troops were killed, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

"As a result of the Georgian artillery shelling there are fatalities among the peacekeepers," a representative of the Russian command was quoted as saying.

Three Russian Sukhoi-24 aircraft entered Georgian airspace, a Georgian interior ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

"One of them dropped two bombs close to the police station in Kareli," spokesman Shota Utiashvili said, referring to a Georgian village near South Ossetia.

There were also reports of a Russian air raid near Gori, the main Georgian city near South Ossetia.

In announcing that Georgia's operation had succeeded, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian bombers had attacked "peaceful" Georgian cities.

"Most of South Ossetia's territory is liberated and is controlled by Georgia," Saakashvili said in televised comments.

He said Russia was conducting flights over Tskhinvali and added: "I demand Russia stop bombardment of peaceful Georgian cities."

But Putin, the former Russian president who is now its influential prime minister, condemned Georgia's "aggressive actions" and said his country would have to retaliate.

"It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia," said Putin in Beijing.

"They have in effect begun hostilities using tanks and artillery," he added.

"It is sad, but this will provoke retaliatory measures."

Putin said he had discussed the crisis with Chinese leaders and with US President George Bush.

"Everybody agrees - nobody wants to see a war."

A Kremlin spokesman said President Dmitry Medvedev was considering "emergency measures" in response to the Georgian attack.

Russia called a special meeting of the UN Security Council which expressed concern over the fighting but could not agree on a Russian statement urging the warring sides to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.

The United States called on both sides to stop the fighting.

"We're urging Moscow to press South Ossetia's de facto leaders to stop firing. We're urging Tbilisi to maintain restraint," Gonzalo Gallegos, a US State Department spokesman, told reporters.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said earlier that his forces still controlled Tskhinvali.

"We fully control our capital. The battle is continuing on the outskirts of Tskhinvali," Kokoity was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The situation is completely under control."

In recent months, Moscow and Tbilisi have sparred repeatedly over South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia.

Georgia's pro-Western government accuses Moscow of seeking to annex the two regions and derail its efforts to join the transatlantic NATO alliance, which Russia vehemently opposes.

The Georgian offensive came within just hours of reports that Georgia and South Ossetia agreed to meet today for talks and the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Georgian president.

Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

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http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/russia-re...8139076806.html

Russian warplanes bombed Georgian targets yesterday, the Tbilisi government said, after Georgian forces surrounded and shelled the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Amid spiralling tensions, reports said Russian forces on peacekeeping duty in South Ossetia had been killed and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned his country would retaliate against Georgia's offensive in the Caucasus trouble spot.

At least 15 civilians were killed in the fighting and Georgian shelling and air raids on the separatist capital Tskhinvali, reports and South Ossetian officials said.

The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) led international calls for a ceasefire in South Ossetia - which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s - but the United Nations failed to agree on a Russian statement urging Georgia and the rebels to halt the fighting.

Georgia accuses Russia of seeking to take over South Ossetia.

A witness saw Georgian forces fire more than a dozen missiles towards South Ossetia from a position inside Georgia and witnessed helicopters and hundreds of soldiers in trucks moving towards the region.

A large plume of smoke rose from Tskhinvali shortly after dawn and explosions and heavy weapons continued regularly as they had all night.

The Russian military said a barracks for Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali was hit and that some troops were killed, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

"As a result of the Georgian artillery shelling there are fatalities among the peacekeepers," a representative of the Russian command was quoted as saying.

Three Russian Sukhoi-24 aircraft entered Georgian airspace, a Georgian interior ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

"One of them dropped two bombs close to the police station in Kareli," spokesman Shota Utiashvili said, referring to a Georgian village near South Ossetia.

There were also reports of a Russian air raid near Gori, the main Georgian city near South Ossetia.

In announcing that Georgia's operation had succeeded, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian bombers had attacked "peaceful" Georgian cities.

"Most of South Ossetia's territory is liberated and is controlled by Georgia," Saakashvili said in televised comments.

He said Russia was conducting flights over Tskhinvali and added: "I demand Russia stop bombardment of peaceful Georgian cities."

But Putin, the former Russian president who is now its influential prime minister, condemned Georgia's "aggressive actions" and said his country would have to retaliate.

"It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia," said Putin in Beijing.

"They have in effect begun hostilities using tanks and artillery," he added.

"It is sad, but this will provoke retaliatory measures."

Putin said he had discussed the crisis with Chinese leaders and with US President George Bush.

"Everybody agrees - nobody wants to see a war."

A Kremlin spokesman said President Dmitry Medvedev was considering "emergency measures" in response to the Georgian attack.

Russia called a special meeting of the UN Security Council which expressed concern over the fighting but could not agree on a Russian statement urging the warring sides to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.

The United States called on both sides to stop the fighting.

"We're urging Moscow to press South Ossetia's de facto leaders to stop firing. We're urging Tbilisi to maintain restraint," Gonzalo Gallegos, a US State Department spokesman, told reporters.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said earlier that his forces still controlled Tskhinvali.

"We fully control our capital. The battle is continuing on the outskirts of Tskhinvali," Kokoity was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The situation is completely under control."

In recent months, Moscow and Tbilisi have sparred repeatedly over South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia.

Georgia's pro-Western government accuses Moscow of seeking to annex the two regions and derail its efforts to join the transatlantic NATO alliance, which Russia vehemently opposes.

The Georgian offensive came within just hours of reports that Georgia and South Ossetia agreed to meet today for talks and the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Georgian president.

Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

That's funny, to me it looks like a last, desperate, throw of Russian military-imperialism.

Wasn't Georgia a former captive state in the USSR for 40 or 50 years?

Didn't Georgia only gain its independence in 1991, two years after the infamous Soviet massacre of Georgian anti-Soviet protesters on April 9, 1989?

I like the comment of (a seemingly disappointed) Vladimir Putin that this battle would result in Russian retaliation.

This is quite rich coming from the former head of the KGB, whose former dissident member, Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko, mysteriously died of polonium poisoning in London a couple of years ago.

And what is a "Russian peacekeeper"?

When I think of Russia, I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn and gulags, not peacekeepers.

China doesn't need the fallout of this dust-up to embarass it during the Olympics.

Its own human rights and censorship record (both of which must be a complete mystery to NBC) hang like heavy smog over the Olympics.

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http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/russia-re...8139076806.html

Russian warplanes bombed Georgian targets yesterday, the Tbilisi government said, after Georgian forces surrounded and shelled the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

Amid spiralling tensions, reports said Russian forces on peacekeeping duty in South Ossetia had been killed and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned his country would retaliate against Georgia's offensive in the Caucasus trouble spot.

At least 15 civilians were killed in the fighting and Georgian shelling and air raids on the separatist capital Tskhinvali, reports and South Ossetian officials said.

The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) led international calls for a ceasefire in South Ossetia - which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s - but the United Nations failed to agree on a Russian statement urging Georgia and the rebels to halt the fighting.

Georgia accuses Russia of seeking to take over South Ossetia.

A witness saw Georgian forces fire more than a dozen missiles towards South Ossetia from a position inside Georgia and witnessed helicopters and hundreds of soldiers in trucks moving towards the region.

A large plume of smoke rose from Tskhinvali shortly after dawn and explosions and heavy weapons continued regularly as they had all night.

The Russian military said a barracks for Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali was hit and that some troops were killed, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

"As a result of the Georgian artillery shelling there are fatalities among the peacekeepers," a representative of the Russian command was quoted as saying.

Three Russian Sukhoi-24 aircraft entered Georgian airspace, a Georgian interior ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

"One of them dropped two bombs close to the police station in Kareli," spokesman Shota Utiashvili said, referring to a Georgian village near South Ossetia.

There were also reports of a Russian air raid near Gori, the main Georgian city near South Ossetia.

In announcing that Georgia's operation had succeeded, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian bombers had attacked "peaceful" Georgian cities.

"Most of South Ossetia's territory is liberated and is controlled by Georgia," Saakashvili said in televised comments.

He said Russia was conducting flights over Tskhinvali and added: "I demand Russia stop bombardment of peaceful Georgian cities."

But Putin, the former Russian president who is now its influential prime minister, condemned Georgia's "aggressive actions" and said his country would have to retaliate.

"It is regrettable that on the day before the opening of the Olympic Games, the Georgian authorities have undertaken aggressive actions in South Ossetia," said Putin in Beijing.

"They have in effect begun hostilities using tanks and artillery," he added.

"It is sad, but this will provoke retaliatory measures."

Putin said he had discussed the crisis with Chinese leaders and with US President George Bush.

"Everybody agrees - nobody wants to see a war."

A Kremlin spokesman said President Dmitry Medvedev was considering "emergency measures" in response to the Georgian attack.

Russia called a special meeting of the UN Security Council which expressed concern over the fighting but could not agree on a Russian statement urging the warring sides to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.

The United States called on both sides to stop the fighting.

"We're urging Moscow to press South Ossetia's de facto leaders to stop firing. We're urging Tbilisi to maintain restraint," Gonzalo Gallegos, a US State Department spokesman, told reporters.

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said earlier that his forces still controlled Tskhinvali.

"We fully control our capital. The battle is continuing on the outskirts of Tskhinvali," Kokoity was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The situation is completely under control."

In recent months, Moscow and Tbilisi have sparred repeatedly over South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia.

Georgia's pro-Western government accuses Moscow of seeking to annex the two regions and derail its efforts to join the transatlantic NATO alliance, which Russia vehemently opposes.

The Georgian offensive came within just hours of reports that Georgia and South Ossetia agreed to meet today for talks and the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Georgian president.

Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

That's funny, to me it looks like a last, desperate, throw of Russian military-imperialism.

Wasn't Georgia a former captive state in the USSR for 40 or 50 years?

Didn't Georgia only gain its independence in 1991, two years after the infamous Soviet massacre of Georgian anti-Soviet protesters on April 9, 1989?

I like the comment of (a seemingly disappointed) Vladimir Putin that this battle would result in Russian retaliation.

This is quite rich coming from the former head of the KGB, whose former dissident member, Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko, mysteriously died of polonium poisoning in London a couple of years ago.

And what is a "Russian peacekeeper"?

When I think of Russia, I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn and gulags, not peacekeepers.

China doesn't need the fallout of this dust-up to embarass it during the Olympics.

Its own human rights and censorship record (both of which must be a complete mystery to NBC) hang like heavy smog over the Olympics.

Way to go you guys...I just had to spend a half hour on the phone with Kathy Becket explaining that this was not the Georgia that is just north of Florida...

You guys scared her half to death!

Nice....real Nice....

HAHAHAHAHA,

Mike

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When I think of Russia, I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn and gulags, not peacekeepers

Then a) you're education is shamefully limited, as the Soviet period of Russian history lasted a mere 70+ years; and B) you've a very selective memory - not recall what he had to say about the US?

Georgia, with obvious US approval, attacked a province of the former USSR which made the same decision to divorce as Georgia did - only the South Ossitians chose to remain with Moscow. Your inability to comment on the obvious fact of Georgian aggression represents precisely the kind of divorce from observable reality that characterises the Bush White House.

Paul

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When I think of Russia, I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn and gulags, not peacekeepers

Then a) you're education is shamefully limited, as the Soviet period of Russian history lasted a mere 70+ years; and B) you've a very selective memory - not recall what he had to say about the US?

Georgia, with obvious US approval, attacked a province of the former USSR which made the same decision to divorce as Georgia did - only the South Ossitians chose to remain with Moscow. Your inability to comment on the obvious fact of Georgian aggression represents precisely the kind of divorce from observable reality that characterises the Bush White House.

Paul

So so easily deceived.....

Paul by the way where is your Forum required bio?

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Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

You are right Paul. But I think Russia might not be left all alone. I wonder if the Chinese will call in some treasury bonds? It would make economic sense.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are needed by Georgia, US or the Nordic, Aryan, Tutonic Order (all the same really) for control of the pipeline from the Caspian sea project. And as your previous excellent post on the Turkmenistan Russian oil deal clearly illustrates the US is out in the cold and Europe will have to deal with Russia on their terms to receive gas and oil supplies. This is a desperate attempt by the US and those who've hung their wagon to that star to change the game in their favor.

Before Georgia can join NATO they were told to fix their 'frozen conflicts' and get their minorities under control so annex and repress them. The opposite for Yugoslavia where they want another pipeline to go. It was dismembered. Divide and rule. It works so well.

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That's funny, to me it looks like a last, desperate, throw of Russian military-imperialism.

Chris, it was the Georgians who attacked and civilians at that. They have been trying to provoke hostilities for some time in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Please see this post: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=13230

Wasn't Georgia a former captive state in the USSR for 40 or 50 years?

Georgia was protected by Imperial Russia since 1783. Georgia requested incorporation into Russia in 1800. Though there is some disagreement about the willingness of that inclusion by some just like Mexico believes that parts of the border states actually belong to them. The US thinks differently.

Didn't Georgia only gain its independence in 1991, two years after the infamous Soviet massacre of Georgian anti-Soviet protesters on April 9, 1989?

Yes, The Soviet Union was trying to maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity against much interference by others with vested interest in its disintergration. While the exact dates and names escape me at the moment there was a 4 star general very senior in the US military who 'retired' during this time. He turned up in Georgia as he is from a Georgian family. He took over the Georgian military and since that time Georgia has been for all intents and purposes an out post of the Pentagon.

I like the comment of (a seemingly disappointed) Vladimir Putin that this battle would result in Russian retaliation.

Well it has. War is disappointing and much more.

This is quite rich coming from the former head of the KGB, whose former dissident member, Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko, mysteriously died of polonium poisoning in London a couple of years ago.

Yes. The British security forces have much explaining to do. They also have not handed over as required under international law the wanted fugitive and criminal Berezovsky where he is required to stand trial in Russia. Litvinenko knew where a lot of bodies were buried and many of them are about dealings the British would rather keep secret. Hence the BP deal is off and Russia is dealing with others now

And what is a "Russian peacekeeper"?

The same as any other countries peace keepers. The Russians have done more for world peace than most.

When I think of Russia, I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn and gulags, not peacekeepers.

When I think of Russia, I think about the millions and millions that died fighting fascism. I think of the free education that they offered to people from all over the world especially the third world. I think of the free operations and health care that they gave to my friend's daughter so that she would not be blind and the free accommodation and care given to her mother while she waited for her daughter to recover. I think of the refugees they took in from murderous right wing dictatorships.

When I think of Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn I think of how the western politicians and media abandoned him in the Connecticut country side and ridiculed him when he turned his criticisms towards the west.

China doesn't need the fallout of this dust-up to embarass it during the Olympics.

True

Its own human rights and censorship record (both of which must be a complete mystery to NBC) hang like heavy smog over the Olympics.

NBC is perfectly aware of the shortcomings of China. They just want to make lots of money and are prepared to over look human rights for profits. Just like most consumers are prepared to buy cheap Chinese gadgets and clothes.

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Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

You are right Paul. But I think Russia might not be left all alone. I wonder if the Chinese will call in some treasury bonds? It would make economic sense.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are needed by Georgia, US or the Nordic, Aryan, Tutonic Order (all the same really) for control of the pipeline from the Caspian sea project. And as your previous excellent post on the Turkmenistan Russian oil deal clearly illustrates the US is out in the cold and Europe will have to deal with Russia on their terms to receive gas and oil supplies. This is a desperate attempt by the US and those who've hung their wagon to that star to change the game in their favor.

Before Georgia can join NATO they were told to fix their 'frozen conflicts' and get their minorities under control so annex and repress them. The opposite for Yugoslavia where they want another pipeline to go. It was dismembered. Divide and rule. It works so well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...georgia.russia1

Plucky little Georgia? No, the cold war reading won't wash

It is crudely simplistic to cast Russia as the sole villain in the clashes over South Ossetia. The west would be wise to stay out

By Mark Almond

The Guardian, Saturday, August 9, 2008, p.29

For many people the sight of Russian tanks streaming across a border in August has uncanny echoes of Prague 1968. That cold war reflex is natural enough, but after two decades of Russian retreat from those bastions it is misleading. Not every development in the former Soviet Union is a replay of Soviet history.

The clash between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, which escalated dramatically yesterday, in truth has more in common with the Falklands war of 1982 than it does with a cold war crisis. When the Argentine junta was basking in public approval for its bloodless recovery of Las Malvinas, Henry Kissinger anticipated Britain's widely unexpected military response with the comment: "No great power retreats for ever." Maybe today Russia has stopped the long retreat to Moscow which started under Gorbachev.

Back in the late 1980s, as the USSR waned, the red army withdrew from countries in eastern Europe which plainly resented its presence as the guarantor of unpopular communist regimes. That theme continued throughout the new republics of the deceased Soviet Union, and on into the premiership of Putin, under whom Russian forces were evacuated even from the country's bases in Georgia.

To many Russians this vast geopolitical retreat from places which were part of Russia long before the dawn of communist rule brought no bonus in relations with the west. The more Russia drew in its horns, the more Washington and its allies denounced the Kremlin for its imperial ambitions.

Unlike in eastern Europe, for instance, today in breakaway states such as South Ossetia or Abkhazia, Russian troops are popular. Vladimir Putin's picture is more widely displayed than that of the South Ossetian president, the former Soviet wrestling champion Eduard Kokoity. The Russians are seen as protectors against a repeat of ethnic cleansing by Georgians.

In 1992, the west backed Eduard Shevardnadze's attempts to reassert Georgia's control over these regions. The then Georgian president's war was a disaster for his nation. It left 300,000 or more refugees "cleansed" by the rebel regions, but for Ossetians and Abkhazians the brutal plundering of the Georgian troops is the most indelible memory.

Georgians have nursed their humiliation ever since. Although Mikheil Saakashvili has done little for the refugees since he came to power early in 2004 - apart from move them out of their hostels in central Tbilisi to make way for property development - he has spent 70% of the Georgian budget on his military. At the start of the week he decided to flex his muscles.

Devoted to achieving Nato entry for Georgia, Saakashvili has sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - and so clearly felt he had American backing. The streets of the Georgian capital are plastered with posters of George W Bush alongside his Georgian protege. George W Bush avenue leads to Tbilisi airport. But he has ignored Kissinger's dictum: "Great powers don't commit suicide for their allies." Perhaps his neoconservative allies in Washington have forgotten it, too. Let's hope not.

Like Galtieri in 1982, Saakashvili faces a domestic economic crisis and public disillusionment. In the years since the so-called Rose revolution, the cronyism and poverty that characterised the Shevardnadze era have not gone away. Allegations of corruption and favouritism towards his mother's clan, together with claims of election fraud, led to mass demonstrations against Saakashvili last November. His ruthless security forces - trained, equipped and subsidised by the west - thrashed the protesters. Lashing out at the Georgians' common enemy in South Ossetia would certainly rally them around the president, at least in the short term.

Last September, President Saakashvili suddenly turned on his closest ally in the Rose revolution, defence minister Irakli Okruashvili. Each man accused his former blood brother of mafia links and profiting from contraband. Whatever the truth, the fact that the men seen by the west as the heroes of a post-Shevardnadze clean-up accused each other of vile crimes should warn us against picking a local hero in Caucasian politics.

Western geopolitical commentators stick to cold war simplicities about Russia bullying plucky little Georgia. However, anyone familiar with the Caucasus knows that the state bleating about its victim status at the hands of a bigger neighbour can be just as nasty to its smaller subjects. Small nationalisms are rarely sweet-natured.

Worse still, western backing for "equip and train" programmes in Russia's backyard don't contribute to peace and stability if bombastic local leaders such as Saakashvili see them as a guarantee of support even in a crisis provoked by his own actions. He seems to have thought that the valuable oil pipeline passing through his territory, together with the Nato advisers intermingled with his troops, would prevent Russia reacting militarily to an incursion into South Ossetia. That calculation has proved disastrously wrong.

The question now is whether the conflict can be contained, or whether the west will be drawn in, raising the stakes to desperate levels. To date the west has operated radically different approaches to secession in the Balkans, where pro-western microstates get embassies, and the Caucasus, where the Caucasian boundaries drawn up by Stalin, are deemed sacrosanct.

In the Balkans, the west promoted the disintegration of multiethnic Yugoslavia, climaxing with their recognition of Kosovo's independence in February. If a mafia-dominated microstate like Montenegro can get western recognition, why shouldn't flawed, pro-Russian, unrecognised states aspire to independence, too?

Given its extraordinary ethnic complexity, Georgia is a post-Soviet Union in miniature. If westerners readily conceded non-Russian republics' right to secede from the USSR in 1991, what is the logic of insisting that non-Georgians must remain inside a microempire which happens to be pro-western?

Other people's nationalisms are like other people's love affairs, or, indeed, like dog fights. These are things wise people don't get involved in. A war in the Caucasus is never a straightforward moral crusade - but then, how many wars are?

• Mark Almond is a history lecturer at Oriel College, Oxford mpalmond@aol.com

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Revealing timing, Maggie, with the US and its Georgian puppets seeking to use the imminent Olympics as a wedge to be driven between Russia and China, the two key components of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The thinking seems to be as follows: Chinese fears that their great showpiece will be ruined is calculated to induce caution or paralysis in Peking, thus depriving Russia of support in its response to the US-sponsored invasion of South Ossetia. Russia, Washington appears to be gambling, will thus be left on its lonesome to deal with this attack.

The US game plan would appear to be, first, to provoke Russian military intervention, then permit a brief truce, followed by a massive escalation – almost certainly a false flag attack of considerable cost in human life - calculated to force reluctant and opposed European states into backing Georgia’s full integration into NATO.

The US, we can now be certain, will launch a comprehensive assault on the SCO elsewhere, too, from Tibet to Xinjiang and beyond, not excluding SCO allies in Africa and the Americas – and Iran. In short, the last, desperate, throw of US military-imperialism has begun.

Paul

You are right Paul. But I think Russia might not be left all alone. I wonder if the Chinese will call in some treasury bonds? It would make economic sense.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are needed by Georgia, US or the Nordic, Aryan, Tutonic Order (all the same really) for control of the pipeline from the Caspian sea project. And as your previous excellent post on the Turkmenistan Russian oil deal clearly illustrates the US is out in the cold and Europe will have to deal with Russia on their terms to receive gas and oil supplies. This is a desperate attempt by the US and those who've hung their wagon to that star to change the game in their favor.

Before Georgia can join NATO they were told to fix their 'frozen conflicts' and get their minorities under control so annex and repress them. The opposite for Yugoslavia where they want another pipeline to go. It was dismembered. Divide and rule. It works so well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/20...georgia.russia1

Plucky little Georgia? No, the cold war reading won't wash

It is crudely simplistic to cast Russia as the sole villain in the clashes over South Ossetia. The west would be wise to stay out

By Mark Almond

The Guardian, Saturday, August 9, 2008, p.29

For many people the sight of Russian tanks streaming across a border in August has uncanny echoes of Prague 1968. That cold war reflex is natural enough, but after two decades of Russian retreat from those bastions it is misleading. Not every development in the former Soviet Union is a replay of Soviet history.

The clash between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, which escalated dramatically yesterday, in truth has more in common with the Falklands war of 1982 than it does with a cold war crisis. When the Argentine junta was basking in public approval for its bloodless recovery of Las Malvinas, Henry Kissinger anticipated Britain's widely unexpected military response with the comment: "No great power retreats for ever." Maybe today Russia has stopped the long retreat to Moscow which started under Gorbachev.

Back in the late 1980s, as the USSR waned, the red army withdrew from countries in eastern Europe which plainly resented its presence as the guarantor of unpopular communist regimes. That theme continued throughout the new republics of the deceased Soviet Union, and on into the premiership of Putin, under whom Russian forces were evacuated even from the country's bases in Georgia.

To many Russians this vast geopolitical retreat from places which were part of Russia long before the dawn of communist rule brought no bonus in relations with the west. The more Russia drew in its horns, the more Washington and its allies denounced the Kremlin for its imperial ambitions.

Unlike in eastern Europe, for instance, today in breakaway states such as South Ossetia or Abkhazia, Russian troops are popular. Vladimir Putin's picture is more widely displayed than that of the South Ossetian president, the former Soviet wrestling champion Eduard Kokoity. The Russians are seen as protectors against a repeat of ethnic cleansing by Georgians.

In 1992, the west backed Eduard Shevardnadze's attempts to reassert Georgia's control over these regions. The then Georgian president's war was a disaster for his nation. It left 300,000 or more refugees "cleansed" by the rebel regions, but for Ossetians and Abkhazians the brutal plundering of the Georgian troops is the most indelible memory.

Georgians have nursed their humiliation ever since. Although Mikheil Saakashvili has done little for the refugees since he came to power early in 2004 - apart from move them out of their hostels in central Tbilisi to make way for property development - he has spent 70% of the Georgian budget on his military. At the start of the week he decided to flex his muscles.

Devoted to achieving Nato entry for Georgia, Saakashvili has sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - and so clearly felt he had American backing. The streets of the Georgian capital are plastered with posters of George W Bush alongside his Georgian protege. George W Bush avenue leads to Tbilisi airport. But he has ignored Kissinger's dictum: "Great powers don't commit suicide for their allies." Perhaps his neoconservative allies in Washington have forgotten it, too. Let's hope not.

Like Galtieri in 1982, Saakashvili faces a domestic economic crisis and public disillusionment. In the years since the so-called Rose revolution, the cronyism and poverty that characterised the Shevardnadze era have not gone away. Allegations of corruption and favouritism towards his mother's clan, together with claims of election fraud, led to mass demonstrations against Saakashvili last November. His ruthless security forces - trained, equipped and subsidised by the west - thrashed the protesters. Lashing out at the Georgians' common enemy in South Ossetia would certainly rally them around the president, at least in the short term.

Last September, President Saakashvili suddenly turned on his closest ally in the Rose revolution, defence minister Irakli Okruashvili. Each man accused his former blood brother of mafia links and profiting from contraband. Whatever the truth, the fact that the men seen by the west as the heroes of a post-Shevardnadze clean-up accused each other of vile crimes should warn us against picking a local hero in Caucasian politics.

Western geopolitical commentators stick to cold war simplicities about Russia bullying plucky little Georgia. However, anyone familiar with the Caucasus knows that the state bleating about its victim status at the hands of a bigger neighbour can be just as nasty to its smaller subjects. Small nationalisms are rarely sweet-natured.

Worse still, western backing for "equip and train" programmes in Russia's backyard don't contribute to peace and stability if bombastic local leaders such as Saakashvili see them as a guarantee of support even in a crisis provoked by his own actions. He seems to have thought that the valuable oil pipeline passing through his territory, together with the Nato advisers intermingled with his troops, would prevent Russia reacting militarily to an incursion into South Ossetia. That calculation has proved disastrously wrong.

The question now is whether the conflict can be contained, or whether the west will be drawn in, raising the stakes to desperate levels. To date the west has operated radically different approaches to secession in the Balkans, where pro-western microstates get embassies, and the Caucasus, where the Caucasian boundaries drawn up by Stalin, are deemed sacrosanct.

In the Balkans, the west promoted the disintegration of multiethnic Yugoslavia, climaxing with their recognition of Kosovo's independence in February. If a mafia-dominated microstate like Montenegro can get western recognition, why shouldn't flawed, pro-Russian, unrecognised states aspire to independence, too?

Given its extraordinary ethnic complexity, Georgia is a post-Soviet Union in miniature. If westerners readily conceded non-Russian republics' right to secede from the USSR in 1991, what is the logic of insisting that non-Georgians must remain inside a microempire which happens to be pro-western?

Other people's nationalisms are like other people's love affairs, or, indeed, like dog fights. These are things wise people don't get involved in. A war in the Caucasus is never a straightforward moral crusade - but then, how many wars are?

• Mark Almond is a history lecturer at Oriel College, Oxford mpalmond@aol.com

http://www.amleft.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 09, 2008

lenin: The "New Cold War" Escalates

One of his implicit themes is the tragedy of the peoples of Russia and Georgia caught up in a great game beyond their control, a great game of violence and political manipulation worsened by the cynical involvement of the US and Europe. His summary of US involvement in the removal of the previous regime in Georgia, and the subsequent implementation of neoliberal IMF policies of fiscal austerity and deregulation, provides essential background context.

Labels: American Empire, Georgia, IMF, Neoliberalism, Russia

### posted by Richard

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A Dirty Adventure (Part 4)

UPDATE: Doesn't look like things are going well on the ground for the Georgians. A day after invading South Ossetia, they now want a cease fire. No doubt the US and the Europeans will fall into line. Or, is just more pretense? Meanwhile, there are some indications that the Russians may be targeting facilities involved in the transport of oil and natural gas, such as the oil export terminal at the port of Pori.

INITIAL POST: The US, France and Britain support Georgia in the United Nations:

But one phrase calling on all parties to “renounce the use of force” met with opposition, particularly from the United States, France and Britain. The three countries argued that the statement was unbalanced, one European diplomat said, because that language would have undermined Georgia’s ability to defend itself. Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, circulated a revised draft calling for an immediate cessation of hostility and for “all parties” to return to the negotiating table. By dropping the specific reference to Georgia and South Ossetia, the compromise statement would also encompass Russia.

Go back and read it carefully. How does a statement to renounce the us of force prevent Georgia from defending itself? I obviously doesn't, but it would put pressure on Georgia to stop offensive military operations in South Ossetia.

We've seen this movie before. It is, as I predicted late last night, a repeat of the situation in the summer of 2006, when Israel conducted a campaign of air strikes in Lebanon, and the US and Britain rejected proposed UN resolutions that called for a cease fire. Expect the US, France and Britain to reject the new Belgium draft as well, as they will oppose any draft that does not place blame on the Russians, and responsibility for making concessions on them, in the hope that the war will go in favor of the Georgians. Again, as with the Israeli assault upon Lebanon, it is probably a forlorn hope, because there will be strong nativist popular Russian support for this conflict, as they perceive it as necessary to defend the people of South Ossetia against not just Georgia, but US and European sponsored aggression.

The situation is really quite shocking. The US and two of the dominant countries in the European Union are facilitating violent policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and, now, Georgia. They are making demands upon Iran that increase the chances of war there as well. Germany is supportive in all instances, except this new Georgian adventure, probably because of its closer ties with the Russian Federation.

Few seem to understand that a red line has been crossed in South Ossetia. The US and the EU, with the assistance of Israel, is now openly using military force is in their political and economic competition with the Russians in the Caucasus and Central Asia. I try to avoid millenialist sensibilities, but, for the first time, I have become fearful that there is a horrifically destructive global conflict looming over the horizon. As US, Europe and Israel methodically go about increasing the number of tinder boxes, we can only hope that these conflicts somehow resolve themselves nonviolently. It is increasingly difficult to imagine that might happen.

Labels: American Empire, Europe, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, Russia, United Nations

### posted by Richard

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A Dirty Adventure (Part 3)

A good column on the situation by Mark Ames, posted on The Nation website, if one has the patience to sift through the obligatory The Nation requirement that about half of it serve the purpose of implicitly promoting Obama by attacking McCain on the subject:

Today, Georgian forces from that same Senaki base are part of the invasion force into South Ossetia, an invasion that has left scores--perhaps hundreds--of dead locals, at least ten dead Russian peacekeepers, and 140 million pissed-off Russians calling for blood.

Lost in all of this is not only the question of why America would risk an apocalypse to help a petty dictator like Saakashvili get control of a region that doesn't want any part of him. But no one's bothering to ask what the Ossetians themselves think about it, or why they're fighting for their independence in the first place. That's because the Georgians--with help from lobbyists like Scheunemann--have been pushing the line that South Ossetia is a fiction, a construct of evil Kremlin neo-Stalinists, rather than a people with a genuine grievance.

A few years ago, I had an Ossetian working as the sales director for my now-defunct newspaper, The eXile. After listening to me rave about how much I always (and still do) like the Georgians, he finally lost it and told me another side to Georgian history, explaining how the Georgians had always mistreated the Ossetians, and how the South Ossetians wanted to reunite with North Ossetia in order to avoid being swallowed up, and how this conflict goes way back, long before the Soviet Union days. It was clear that the Ossetian-Georgian hatred was old and deep, like many ethnic conflicts in this region. Indeed, a number of Caucasian ethnic groups still harbor deep resentment towards Georgia, accusing them of imperialism, chauvinism and arrogance.

One example of this can be found in historian Bruce Lincoln's book, Red Victory, in which he writes about the period of Georgia's brief independence from 1917 to 1921, a time when Georgia was backed by Britain:

the Georgian leaders quickly moved to widen their borders at the expense of their Armenian and Azerbaijani neighbors, and their territorial greed astounded foreign observers. 'The free and independent socialist democratic state of Georgia will always remain in my memory as a classic example of an imperialist small nation," one British journalist wrote.... "Both in territory snatching outside and bureaucratic tyranny inside, its chauvinism was beyond all bounds."

On Thursday, following intense Georgian shelling and katyusha rocketing into Tskhinvali, refugees streamed out of South Ossetia telling reporters that the Georgians had completely leveled entire villages and most of Tskhinvali, leaving "piles of corpses" in the streets, over 1,000 by some counts. Among the dead are at least ten Russian peacekeepers, who fell after their base was attacked by Georgian forces. Reports also say that Georgian forces destroyed a hotel where Russian journalists were staying.

In response, Russian jets bombed Georgian positions both inside South Ossetia and into Georgia proper, attacking one base where American military instructors are quartered (no Americans were reported hurt). By mid-afternoon Moscow time, as local television showed burning homes and Ossetian women and children huddling in bomb shelters, armored Russian columns were crossing into Georgian territory, and Georgia's President called for a total mobilization of military-aged men for war with Russia.

The invasion was backed up by a PR offensive so layered and sophisticated that I even got an hysterical call today from a hedge fund manager in New York, screaming about an "investor call" that Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze made this morning with some fifty leading Western investment bank managers and analysts. I've since seen a J.P. Morgan summary of the conference call, which pretty much reflects the talking points later picked up by the US media.

These kinds of conference calls are generally conducted by the heads of companies in order to give banking analysts guidance. But as the hedge fund manager told me today, "The reason Lado did this is because he knew the enormous PR value that Georgia would gain by going to the money people and analysts, particularly since Georgia is clearly the aggressor this time." As a former investment banker who worked in London and who used to head the Bank of Georgia, Gurgenidze knew what he was doing. "Lado is a former banker himself, so he knew that by framing the conflict for the most influential bankers and analysts in New York, that these power bankers would then write up reports and go on CNBC and argue Lado Gurgenidze's talking points. It was brilliant, and now you're starting to see the American media shift its coverage from calling it Georgia invading Ossetian territory, to the new spin, that it's Russian imperial aggression against tiny little Georgia."

The really scary thing about this investor conference call is that it suggests real planning. As the hedge fund manager told me, "These things aren't set up on an hour's notice."

Are Wall Street fund managers and investors stupid enough to believe that a new Cold War is a good idea? Evidently so. Because that's the objective of the Georgian leadership and their American and Israeli supporters in the defense and intelligence services. As for the rest of us, they could care less. Why should they? We haven't done anything for a quite awhile to compel them to do so. We can, however, be certain that we will hear very little of the fact that the Georgian military has been trained by the US (so far, only in the context of allying fears that some US officers may have been killed or wounded during a Russian air attack), and nothing about the sales of Israeli weapons to Georgia.

One gets the troubling sense that the US, France and Britain, among others, are going to adopt the same response that they did after the Israel conducted a campaign of air strikes upon Lebanon around this same time in the summer of 2006: use the United Nations to pressure the side subject to the attack to make concessions to the aggressor. The Lebanese victims of Israeli airstrikes, over 1,300 people, plus the prospect of subsequent deaths and injuries as a result of cluster bombs, meant nothing to them in the face of more cynical, abstract, geopolitical concerns of the imperialist kind, and the lives of South Ossetians will be equally irrelevant.

Labels: American Empire, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, Mainstream Media, Russia

### posted by Richard

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Friday, August 08, 2008

A Dirty Adventure (Part 2)

Turns out the that Israelis have been supplying the US trained Georgian army with weapons. It was reported that they stopped such sales a few days ago:

Israel has decided to halt all sales of military equipment to Georgia because of objections from Russia, which is locked in a feud with its tiny Caucasus neighbor, defense officials said Tuesday.

The officials said the freeze was partially intended to give Israel leverage with Moscow in its attempts to persuade Russia not to ship arms and equipment to Iran. They spoke on condition of anonymity as Israel does not officially publish details of its arms sales.

Russia has repeatedly refused to comment on reports its is selling S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.

Among the items Israel has been selling to Tbilisi are pilotless drone aircraft. Russian fighters shot one down in May, according to UN observers.

Other types of weaponry include the following:

. . . . Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an independent military expert based in Tbilisi. Former Israeli generals also serve as advisers to the Georgian military.

Interesting. Israeli arms sales to Georgia are purportedly halted, and the Georgians invade South Ossetia in less than a week. There are also reports today that the Georgians have shot down Russian aircraft, which brings this story from April to the top of the queue:

Russia asked Israel last week whether it had supplied Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Georgia, for it to use in military operations against secessionists from Abkhazia.

An Israeli security source confirmed that the UAVs being used by Georgia are manufactured by Israeli firm Elbit. A diplomatic source in Jerusalem said that the Russians did not have proof of this, however, and that the request for clarifications was based on suspicions. He added that Israel does not sell any attack weapons to countries that border with Russia and only sells them defensive equipment.

Georgia accused Russia of using a MiG-29 to shoot down one of its UAVs over Abkhazia and produced a video to back up its claim. The video was shot by the UAV seconds before it was shot down, and it shows a MiG-29. Georgia's president said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and demanded an end to the "unjustified aggression against Georgia's sovereign territory."

Of course, the subject that keeps intruding into this saga is Iran. Is the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia meant to pressure the Russians into severing economic and military ties with the Iranians? The Israelis supposedly halted arms sales to Georgia in an effort to persuade the Russians to refuse to supply Iran with a new air defense system. Did that effort fail, or was it merely a pretense before the launching of the Georgian invasion?

Perhaps, the invasion has also been prompted by competition between the US, Russia and Europe over access to hydrocarbons in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Along these lines, consider this July 30th article by former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar:

From the details coming out of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and Moscow over the weekend, it is apparent that the great game over Caspian energy has taken a dramatic turn. In the geopolitics of energy security, nothing like this has happened before. The United States has suffered a huge defeat in the race for Caspian gas. The question now is how much longer Washington could afford to keep Iran out of the energy market.

Gazprom, Russia's energy leviathan, signed two major agreements in Ashgabat on Friday outlining a new scheme for purchase of Turkmen gas. The first one elaborates the price formation principles that will be guiding the Russian gas purchase from Turkmenistan during the next 20-year period. The second agreement is a unique one, making Gazprom the donor for local Turkmen energy projects. In essence, the two agreements ensure that Russia will keep control over Turkmen gas exports.

The consequences for the US are reportedly significant:

Until fairly recently Moscow was sensitive about the European Union's opposition to the idea of a gas cartel. (Washington has openly warned that it would legislate against countries that lined up behind a gas cartel). But high gas prices have weakened the European Union's negotiating position.

The agreements with Turkmenistan further consolidate Russia's control of Central Asia's gas exports. Gazprom recently offered to buy all of Azerbaijan's gas at European prices. (Medvedev visited Baku on July 3-4.) Baku will study with keen interest the agreements signed in Ashgabat on Friday. The overall implications of these Russian moves are very serious for the US and EU campaign to get the Nabucco gas pipeline project going.

Nabucco, which would run from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, was hoping to tap Turkmen gas by linking Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan via a pipeline across the Caspian Sea that would be connected to the pipeline networks through the Caucasus to Turkey already existing, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

But with access denied to Turkmen gas, Nabucco's viability becomes doubtful. And, without Nabucco, the entire US strategy of reducing Europe's dependence on Russian energy supplies makes no sense. Therefore, Washington is faced with Hobson's choice. Friday's agreements in Ashgabat mean that Nabucco's realization will now critically depend on gas supplies from the Middle East - Iran, in particular. Turkey is pursuing the idea of Iran supplying gas to Europe and has offered to mediate in the US-Iran standoff.

The geopolitics of energy makes strange bedfellows. Russia will be watching with anxiety the Turkish-Iranian-US tango. An understanding with Iran on gas pricing, production and market-sharing is vital for the success of Russia's overall gas export strategy. But Tehran visualizes the Nabucco as its passport for integration with Europe. Again, Russia's control of Turkmen gas cannot be to Tehran's liking. Tehran had keenly pursed with Ashgabat the idea of evacuation of Turkmen gas to the world market via Iranian territory.

Bhadrakumar skillfully exposes the Russians and the Iranians as commercial competitors even as they remain involuntary geopolitical allies. For our purposes, however, the essential thread that emerges from his analysis is the urgency for the US (and the Israelis) to act quickly to disrupt Russia's ability to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to the European market. Otherwise, the US will be forced, to the great dismay of Israel, to broker a deal with Iran so as obtain access to Iranian natural gas to break the Russian monopoly.

Hence, we now see a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia about a week after the Russian announcement of its natural gas agreements with Turkmenistan. If one accepts this reasoning, the invasion of South Ossetia is a strong signal that the US prefers confrontation with the Russians over negotiating a new commercial relationship with the Iranians. In other words, it suggests that the US still sees war as the ultimate solution of its disagreements with them.

The invasion also suggests that the US is incapable of choosing an ally in the region, and persists in the hope that it can economically and militarily dominate both the Russians and the Iranians, and through them, just about every country in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Such arrogance is likely to be ruinous for all involved. A dirty adventure, indeed.

(Hat tip to Big Bopper for pointing out the Israeli connection.)

Labels: American Empire, Central Asia, Georgia, Israel, Russia, War with Iran

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A Dirty Adventure (Part 1)

Georgia invades South Ossetia:

Georgia launched a major military offensive Friday to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, prompting Moscow to send tanks into the region in a furious response that threatens to engulf Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, and Russia in all-out war.

Hundreds were reported dead in the worst outbreak of hostilities since the province won defacto independence in a war against Georgia that ended in 1992. Witnesses said the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali was devastated.

"I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars," said Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, who had fled with her family to Dzhava, a village near the border with Russia. "It's impossible to count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged."

And the Russians respond:

The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday afternoon that it would protect Russian citizens in the territory and Russian peacekeepers who came under fire in Tskhinvali.

“The Georgian leadership has unleashed a dirty adventure,” the ministry said in a statement, posted on its Web site. “The blood shed in South Ossetia will remain on the conscience of these people and their entourage. We will not allow anyone to do harm to our peacekeepers and citizens of the Russian Federation.”

But are Georgians solely responsible for this dirty adventure? One wonders, especially in light of this passage from the Associated Press article, a fact conveniently omitted from New York Times coverage:

More than 1,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers were at the base last month to teach combat skills to Georgian troops. Georgia has about 2,000 troops in Iraq, making it the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain.

The White House on Friday urged Russia and Georgia to peacefully resolve their dispute over South Ossetia.

"We urge restraint on all sides — that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters.

Curiously, the US is not capable of condemning a Georgian invasion and Guernica like air attack upon Tskhinvali, but then, that would be expecting a lot after US Marines just got done training Georgian forces. Instead, the White House just urges restraint, which is what it usually does when an ally has launched an attack and the other side moves to defend itself.

The Russians have been angry for quite awhile about proposals to admit Georgia into NATO. Now, Georgian troops have attacked South Ossetia after having been trained by the US. The Russians no doubt believe, with good reason, that the US greenlighted the invasion. If I were Georgian, I'd be very concerned, because it is probable that the Russians are about to teach them a terrible lesson about the consequences of hubris.

Labels: American Empire, Georgia, NATO, Occupation of Iraq, Russia

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Ex-Georgian Foreign Minister: Caucasus War Western Geostrategic Plot

http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/28742

Russia Today

August 10, 2008

U.S. can be partly blamed for war – ex-Georgian FM

[Zurabishvili was born and raised in France and worked

for the French government, including as a liaison to

NATO, so her comments are all the more interesting.]

-"There are many Americans in Georgia training the

military forces of the country and monitoring the

situation. As I understand, they also supervise the

strategic corridor – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil

pipeline.

"The main purpose behind the conflict is the further

strategic orientation of Georgia and an opportunity

for the West, I mean the USA and the EU, to count on

Georgia and the Caucasus in ensuring the strategic

provision of oil".

A number of experts agree that the military conflict

between Georgia and South Ossetia is not in Russia’s

interests.

The Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salome

Zurabishvili says the United States could be partly

responsible for the violence in South Ossetia.

In an interview with the Agence France-Presse news

agency she commented on the possible reasons behind

the military conflict.

"There are many Americans in Georgia training the

military forces of the country and monitoring the

situation. As I understand, they also supervise the

strategic corridor – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil

pipeline.

"The main purpose behind the conflict is the further

strategic orientation of Georgia and an opportunity

for the West, I mean the USA and the EU, to count on

Georgia and the Caucasus in ensuring the strategic

provision of oil".

Professor Gerhard Mangott, from the Department of

political science at the University of Innsbruck,

shared his opinion on who stands to gain from the

military escalation in the conflict zone.

"The military assault in South Ossetia was launched

deliberately, and the question is by whom?

"Definitely, not by Russia, as it’s not in the

country’s interests,” he said.

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Israel concerned about Georgia conflict

By HERB KEINON

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Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is to convene a meeting of senior ministry officials on Sunday to deal with the Russian-Georgian flare-up, amid concern that Israeli arms sales to Georgia could harm relations with Russia.

Slideshow: Pictures of the week The situation in South Ossetia is widely believed to be one of the topics of discussion over the weekend in Beijing between President Shimon Peres and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

That meeting took place prior to Putin leaving China and flying to southern Russia to apparently oversee the situation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in what is thought to have been an indirect reference to Israel, lashed out against Georgia's Western allies.

"Those who have been supplying arms to Georgia, they should feel part of the blame for the loss of life," The New York Times quoted Lavrov as saying. He also was quoted as saying that foreign leaders "who have been appeasing Mr. [Georgian President Mikhail] Saakashvili's intentions, and helped create the feeling of impunity inside the Georgian [leader], should think twice about whether this is right."

Israeli diplomatic officials said Lavrov's comments were aimed at the US, Ukraine and Israel, which all have supplied Georgia with arms.

Ma'ariv, in an investigative report on Friday that diplomatic officials said was "highly accurate," said Israeli companies had sold some $300 million worth of military equipment to Georgia.

According to the report, Israeli defense officials were embarrassed in April when an Israeli-manufactured drone was shot down by the Russians, and again in May when another drone, and a state-of-the-art Israeli rocket system called Lynx, were on display at a Georgian military parade.

The Ma'ariv report said former government minister and Tel Aviv mayor Roni Milo was heavily involved in arms sales to Georgia, as a representative of Elbit and the Israeli Military Industries, and that Brig.-Gen (res.) Gal Hirsch, one of the senior officers who left the IDF after coming under blistering criticism following the Second Lebanon War, was heavily involved in the country in providing training for infantry and elite units.

According to the Ma'ariv story, the Russians sent a letter to Livni asking Israel to refrain from selling state-of-the-art weaponry to Georgia, and stating that Moscow had acceded to similar requests by Jerusalem in the past.

Israel has repeatedly asked Russia not to sell top-line weapons systems to Syria and Iran. According to the report, the Defense Ministry, which at first was hesitant - hoping to parley this into leverage to keep the Russians from selling weaponry to Iran or Syria - then acceded to the Foreign Ministry's request.

Israel, according to diplomatic officials, now only sells defensive weapons to Georgia.

In light of the escalating situation in Georgia, the Foreign Ministry issued an advisory against travel to the area, and has called on Israelis already there to contact the embassy in Tbilisi, or the situation room at the Foreign Ministry, to let them know their whereabouts. The Foreign Ministry also decided to send reinforcements to the embassy there to deal with the situation.

In recent years, Georgia has become a popular destination for Israeli trekkers. Coincidentally, Israel's new envoy to Georgia, Yitzhak Gerberg, was scheduled to leave for his new post on Saturday. Despite the situation on the ground, he left as scheduled

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Ex-Georgian Foreign Minister: Caucasus War Western Geostrategic Plot

http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/28742

Russia Today

August 10, 2008

U.S. can be partly blamed for war – ex-Georgian FM

[Zurabishvili was born and raised in France and worked

for the French government, including as a liaison to

NATO, so her comments are all the more interesting.]

-"There are many Americans in Georgia training the

military forces of the country and monitoring the

situation. As I understand, they also supervise the

strategic corridor – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil

pipeline.

"The main purpose behind the conflict is the further

strategic orientation of Georgia and an opportunity

for the West, I mean the USA and the EU, to count on

Georgia and the Caucasus in ensuring the strategic

provision of oil".

A number of experts agree that the military conflict

between Georgia and South Ossetia is not in Russia’s

interests.

The Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salome

Zurabishvili says the United States could be partly

responsible for the violence in South Ossetia.

In an interview with the Agence France-Presse news

agency she commented on the possible reasons behind

the military conflict.

"There are many Americans in Georgia training the

military forces of the country and monitoring the

situation. As I understand, they also supervise the

strategic corridor – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil

pipeline.

"The main purpose behind the conflict is the further

strategic orientation of Georgia and an opportunity

for the West, I mean the USA and the EU, to count on

Georgia and the Caucasus in ensuring the strategic

provision of oil".

Professor Gerhard Mangott, from the Department of

political science at the University of Innsbruck,

shared his opinion on who stands to gain from the

military escalation in the conflict zone.

"The military assault in South Ossetia was launched

deliberately, and the question is by whom?

"Definitely, not by Russia, as it’s not in the

country’s interests,” he said.

I agree, Maggie - look out for explosions severing the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. The US intention is plainly to portray the Russian retaliation as nothing less than a bid to control this route. By this means will reluctant European states be swung behind the incorporation of Georgia into NATO.

Paul

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