Monday, September 1, 2008

Caucasian Heat: archive

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Georgian Times: "Russia reinforces positions in occupied areas of Georgia"

Russia continues reinforcing positions in Georgia's occupied regions by increasing military contingent in Akhalgori and Perevi. Today they deployed more troops to Akhalgori district by several Ural type trucks. The units of the occupant army are stationed in the villages of Kanchaveti and Tsirqoli. The Russians are patrolling there with trucks and raid the region in tanks. They are forcing local Georgians to take new Russian passports and threaten to resettle from the region if they refuse to do so. (...) >>>

23 Oct 2008
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Information Warfare: "The Russian Cyber Militia"

Georgia was not just invaded by Russian troops last August, it was also hammered on the Internet, with the same Cyber War techniques used against Estonia last year. An investigation by a large team of Internet experts concluded that, as with the attacks on Estonia, the Russian government was not directly involved in the Georgia attacks. The Cyber War attacks on Georgia were coordinated from a non-government web site. If there was any Russian government involvement, it was indirect. For example, the attacks on Georgian web sites began with a very complete list of targets. Not that any of the Russian civilian volunteers couldn't have put such a list together, but this one appeared "general staff" thorough. (...) >>>

21st Oct 2008
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Peace in Georgia: "
Russian Forces Start Removing Checkpoints"

Russia started dismantling some of its checkpoints located outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia, media sources reported early on October 5. The Russian and Georgian officials, as well as EU monitoring mission have also confirmed that the process started.
According to the ceasefire deal Russia should removal all of its checkpoints and withdraw troops from the areas outside breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia by October 10.
According to the EU monitoring mission, the Russian forces dismantled their checkpoint in the village of Ali, northwest of Gori, AFP reported. Signs of withdrawal were observers in several villages located across the Abkhaz administrative border (...) >>>
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Peace in Georgia: "
43 Questions about War to President Saakashvili"

Exactly after 2 monthes since August war in Georgia it's time for asking questions and analizing what heappend. Former Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said she had 43 questions on which she wanted answers from the authorities over the August war with Russia. “The authorities claim that they have answers to all the questions; so, we expect them to give answers publicly within the next few days (...) >>>

8th Oct 2008
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... there goes the cavalry ... words do not begin to describe ...

WSJ: "Russia Blocks EU Monitors in Georgia"

As hundreds of European Union monitors prepared to deploy in Georgia, Russia said it wouldn't allow them to enter a buffer zone surrounding separatist South Ossetia. Tuesday's statement appeared to be another example of Moscow stalling on compliance with a cease-fire reached after the August war with Georgia over South Ossetia. Russia and Georgia agreed to the EU observer mission as part of an updated cease-fire plan following the war, which ended with Russian and separatist forces in control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region backed by Moscow. Moscow agreed to withdraw its forces completely from territories outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia within 10 days of the EU monitors' deployment on Wednesday -- including from a roughly four-mile buffer zone extending south from South Ossetia's edge. But the Russian peacekeeping forces' statement said that as of Wednesday, the EU monitoring will take place "up to the southern border of the security zone." An EU official played down the Russian statement, saying the observers hadn't expected immediate access throughout the zones. >>>

1st Oct 2008
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...considering this paper has regrettably been discontinued we're reproducing here the entire article ...

NYSun: "
Russia Accuses U.N. Agency of Funding Georgian President"

Russia's confrontation with the West is escalating, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accusing the U.N. Development Program of collaborating with the financier George Soros to fund Mikheil Saakashvili's rise to the Georgian presidency.

Russia has long accused Mr. Soros of financing the 2003 Rose Revolution, and Mr. Saakashvili in particular. Yesterday, Mr. Lavrov called for an examination of the ties between Mr. Soros and the UNDP. "At the time, George Soros was sponsoring members of the Georgian government," Mr. Lavrov told reporters, adding that UNDP "funds and finances" were also used to support Georgian officials.

"We should clearly check and establish clear rules for controlling the spending by international organizations," he said. "We should not allow that such organizations be privatized."

The Columbia University-educated Mr. Saakashvili swept into power in a January 2004 election that resulted from the Rose Revolution, ousting a Russian ally, Eduard Shevardnadze, as president.

Russia's war with Georgia over the independence claims of two breakaway Georgian regions, which began in early August, has ratcheted up tensions between America and Russia. Also, Prime Minster Putin reportedly has declined for weeks to take calls from Secretary-General Ban, whose statements on Georgia were seen in Moscow as one-sided.

American officials have raised questions about the relationship between Mr. Soros's Open Society Institute and the UNDP in the past. And as The New York Sun first reported in June 2006, a former UNDP administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, rented a house adjacent to Mr. Soros's estate in Katonah, N.Y., paying the financier what real estate agents in the area characterized as below market rate rent.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Mr. Soros's OSI has concentrated much of its pro-democracy activities in former Soviet republics striving to break with their totalitarian past, with local leaders and their nationalist supporters pledging to sever ties with Moscow.

Information about the UNDP's activities in Georgia is available to all the members of the agency's board, including Russia, a spokesman for the agency, Stéphane Dujarric, told the Sun yesterday. Launched in January 2004, the program in Georgia included "salary top-ups for leading officials," he said, and was designed "to enable the government to recruit the staff it needed, and also to help remove incentives for corruption."

The Georgian president, prime minister, and speaker of the Parliament received monthly salary supplements of $1,500 each; ministers received $1,200 a month, and deputy ministers $700, Mr. Dujarric said.

The program was funded initially by Mr. Soros's OSI, which gave $1 million, while the UNDP gave $500,000. A Swedish government agency later added another $1 million. An "exit strategy" was built into the program, Mr. Dujarric said, and the Georgian government assumed responsibility for the salaries after three years.

Mr. Lavrov's contention that the UNDP must avoid being "privatized" came at the end of a week in which Russia significantly sharpened its rhetoric against America.

At a press conference yesterday and in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, Mr. Lavrov repeatedly denounced Washington's disruption of the existing world order by invading Iraq. "The solidarity of the international community fostered on the wave of struggle against terrorism turned out to be somehow privatized," he said in his assembly speech, referring to the Iraq invasion.

Separately, Mr. Lavrov declined yesterday to provide new details about his country's resumption of military cooperation with Syria, amid reports that the Russian navy sent several ships to the Mediterranean port of Tartus. "This cooperation is conducted in the framework of the international law and does not endanger anyone's security," Mr. Lavrov said. >>>
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... call in the cavalry! ...

EUX.TV: "EU Observers In Position for 'Buffer Zone' Mission

Around 300 European Union observers from 22 EU member states are in place on Tuesday to monitor the withdrawal of Russian troops from areas adjacent to the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The EU mission will operate with a head office in Tblisi and field offices in the central city of Gori, the port town of Poti, and in the city of Zugdidi, near the Abkhaz border. "This mission is purely civilian and that is a big challenge because it operates in an environment that has been marked by violence," German ambassador Hans-Jorg Haber said in a television interview distributed via the EU's Europe by Satellite service. (...) >>>
30th Sep 2008
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... this may be more circumstantial evidence, but here are our ten points:
"Georgian Crisis: Ten Reasons Why Russia is to Blame" ...

NYT: "
Georgia Offers Fresh Evidence on War’s Star"

(...)
Georgia has released intercepted telephone calls purporting to show that part of a Russian armored regiment crossed into the separatist enclave of South Ossetia nearly a full day before Georgia’s attack on the capital, Tskhinvali, late on Aug. 7. Georgia is trying to counter accusations that the long-simmering standoff over South Ossetia, which borders Russia, tilted to war only after it attacked Tskhinvali.

Georgia regards the enclave as its sovereign territory.The intercepts circulated last week among intelligence agencies in the United States and Europe, part of a Georgian government effort to persuade the West and opposition voices at home that Georgia was under invasion and attacked defensively. (...) Georgia also provided audio files of the intercepts along with English translations to The New York Times, which made its own independent translation from the original Ossetian into Russian and then into English. (...)

But at a minimum, the intercepted calls, which senior American officials have reviewed and described as credible if not conclusive, suggest there were Russian military movements earlier than had previously been acknowledged, whether routine or hostile, into Georgian territory as tensions accelerated toward war. They also suggest the enduring limits — even with high-tech surveillance of critical battlefield locations — of penetrating the war’s thick fogs. (...) >>>

16th Sep 2008
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... here's one for the record ... the Russophobe lays bare the Kremlin propaganda spider ...

PJM: "Is Wired Magazine’s ‘Military Correspondent’ a Kremlin Dupe?" (Part I), by Kim Zigfeld (permanent link)

On September 3, Wired magazine published on its website a story by reporter David Axe, who blogs at War Is Boring. (...) It doesn’t appear that he has any expertise in Russia at all, or any military or national security credentials. (...) The story claimed that Georgia had been making military preparations to invade Ossetia before it did so, and further claimed this proved it was the aggressor in the conflict. It attempted to rebut a story published August 16 on Eurasia.net by reporter Brian Whitmore, a seasoned Russia correspondent, which explained how Russia had been gathering a massive invasion force on Georgia’s border for months before the conflict, thus “suggesting that Russia’s military action in Georgia was planned months in advance, awaiting only an appropriate pretext to act.” In a companion piece, Axe accused Georgia of waging a “propaganda war” to cover its alleged aggression.

The sole basis for Axe’s account was an email sent out by one Professor Gordon Hahn and republished by Axe on his blog. We have previously discredited Hahn over at my blog La Russophobe and exposed his persistent pro-Kremlin misinformation about Russia. In a nutshell, he has close ties to Peter Lavelle, who is employed by the Russia Today Kremlin-funded propaganda TV network and whom La Russophobe has likewise previously exposed as a shameless pro-Kremlin shill. German sources are now reporting that Russia Today has censored their Tbilisi correspondent William Dunbar’s reporting on Russian bombing of civilians in the Georgian city of Gori during the recent war, and Dunbar has resigned in protest. Its coverage of Russia’s actions in the crisis has been intensely partisan, to say the least. (...) the Monterey Institute is an actual nest of Russian spies. At the very least, it’s being suckered by them, and helping them to dupe others — like the editors of Wired, for example. >>> Read all for proper understanding >>>

PJM: "Is Wired Magazine’s ‘Military Correspondent’ a Kremlin Dupe?" (Part II), by Kim Zigfeld (permanent link)

12th Sep 2008, updated 21st Sep 2008
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PJs: "Georgia and the Dangers of Putinism", by Arthur Chrenkoff

(...) In the spring of 1940, the Soviet security forces murdered and buried in mass graves some 15,000 Polish officers taken prisoners of war after the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, in accordance with the secret protocols of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. (...) What made Katyn exceptional is the controversy the case attracted ever since the Wehrmacht found and exhumed the bodies in 1943, and the impact the massacre has had on international relations, including, arguably, the genesis of the Cold War. (...) It is once again respectable in the Russian media to return to the old lie that it was the Nazis, not the communists, who were responsible for the Katyn massacre. (...)

(...) my thoughts turned to Georgia. Once you get over the irony of being lectured that the right to ethnic self-determination trumps national sovereignty and territorial integrity by someone who had despoiled Chechnya, you might be forgiven for thinking rather melodramatically that something more than people died on the streets of Gori. Perhaps it was the great geopolitical hope of the past two decades that Russia would turn out to be a normal country, like most other post-communist states. That hope was arguably dying the death of thousand cuts over the years (...) invading a sovereign democratic neighbor must surely count as the Rubicon of sorts.

Soon on the heels of the Georgian incursion came the nuclear blackmail delivered to Poland by a middling military apparatchik. There is both more and less than it seems to the threat that Poland risks a nuclear attack as a consequence of signing onto America’s missile shield program. (...)

Note: Putin has encouraged and overseen the blossoming of a chauvinistic and jingoistic climate of opinion that represents a curious mélange of communist and tsarist themes. (...) Putin said, only three years ago, that the collapse of the Soviet Union “was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [twentieth] century.” Au contraire , the existence of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century. With a possible caveat regarding the Soviet role in the defeat of Hitler, anyone who believes otherwise is morally and intellectually stunted. Yet, for all his apprenticeship at the KGB (...) Putin does not care about the Soviet Union or communism as such. He cares about power and Russia. (...) If communism was, according to Lenin, Soviet power plus electrification; Putinism is Tsardom with nukes. Question remains how far Vladimir the Great decides to push it. >>>

Updated: 5th Sep 2008
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... birth of Caucasian Kosovo twin ...

ABC News: "Sarkozy brokers Russian withdrawal agreement"

Russia has agreed to remove its military forces from Georgia proper within a month, under a new European Union agreement brokered by French President Nicholas Sarkozy. (...) After three hours of talks, Mr Medvedev said he would withdraw his troops from Georgia but not from its two breakaway provinces. He said this would be done by the second week of October but that it would be conditional on the deployment of 200 EU monitors to the region.

There was also agreement that Russia would move its checkpoint outside the Georgian port city of Poti within a week. Mr Medvedev defended Russia's controversial decision to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying that that move was "irrevocable". Further international talks on the conflict will be held in Geneva on October 15. (...) >>>

Updated: 8th Sep 2008
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Michael Totten: "The Truth About Russia in Georgia"

(...)
Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war. (...) >>>

Updated: 6th Sep 2008

CNN: "
Russia lashes out as U.S. ship arrives in Georgia"

A U.S. Coast Guard ship carrying humanitarian aid docked in the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi Wednesday, as Georgia's Western allies renewed their criticism of Russia amid escalating tensions. The cutter Dallas bypassed its original destination, the Georgian port of Poti, which is controlled by Russian troops still in the country despite a cease-fire deal to end conflict between the two countries. (...) Russia has, in turn, criticized the U.S. program to deliver $20 million of aid to Georgia. One general labeled the move "devilish," according to The Associated Press.
"The heightened activity of NATO ships in the Black Sea perplexes us," AP quoted Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn as saying in Moscow. More than 50 U.S. military flights have landed in Georgia. In addition, the USS McFaul recently arrived at Batumi with 155,000 pounds of bottled water, milk, baby food and other items, the U.S. Navy said. The U.S. says it has delivered sanitation facilities, tents, bedding, dry and canned goods and other items to Georgia. Western nations and organizations meanwhile stepped up their condemnation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions in Georgia. (...) >>>

- Nebraska TV explains why the vessel was diverted (repeatedly) from Poti to Batumi >>>
- Pilot Online has a nice, personal story involving the McFaul >>>

Updated: 27th Aug. 2008
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Georgian Daily has the timeline of the run up to Georgian crisis as presented by the Government
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... the following factual annexation - in defiance of international law - apparently also violates the French brokered cease-fire ... Condi remarked it will be DOA in the Security Council - no matter, an accomplished fact is an accomplished fact, thanks to Kosovo ...

Bloomberg: "Russia Recognizes Independence of Georgian Regions"

Russia recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, deepening a rift with the West and striking a blow against NATO's eastward expansion. ``I signed decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,'' President Dmitry Medvedev said on television from Sochi today. ``Russia calls on other states to follow its example.'' Western governments condemned the move. (...) >>>

Here's what the Russian papers say ...

Updated: 26th Aug. 2008
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... since we are looking at a mirror image of Kosovo, and it is known that the number of casualties is heavily exegerated on both sides in any case, chances are we have another PR related genocide on our hands ... it must be said that the entire crime of genocide - which btw goes to intent - is highly devaluated by these frivolous accusations ...

Herald Sun: "Russia claims proof of genocide"

Russian investigators say they have proof Georgian forces committed genocide in their attack on the rebel region of South Ossetia this month. "It has been fully established that between August 7 and 12, Georgia's armed forces invaded the territory of the unrecognised republic with the aim of fully annihilating the Ossetian ethnic group living in South Ossetia," Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin told state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. (...) >>>

Updated: 26th Aug. 2008
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More cartoons by Gary Varvel on Townhall
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Stuff.co.nz: "Russia cruiser to test weapons in crowded Black Sea"

Russia's flagship cruiser has re-entered the Black Sea for weapons tests hours after the Russian military complained about the presence of US and other Nato naval ships near the Georgian coast. The 'Moskva' had led a battle group of Russian naval vessels stationed off the coastline of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia during Russia's recent conflict with Georgia and sank smaller Georgian craft. The assistant to the Russian Navy's commander-in-chief told Russian news agencies the cruiser had put to sea again two days after returning to its base at the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. "'Moskva' has today departed toward the Black Sea Fleet's naval training range to check its radio-controlled weapons and onboard communications systems," Captain Igor Dygalo was quoted as saying by Interfax. (...) >>>
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Monsters and Critics: "Russia backs independence for Georgia's rebel regions"

Russian lawmakers on Monday unanimously passed a resolution backing the independence of Georgia's rebel regions, a move sure to deepen a rift with the West over Moscow's military actions in the former Soviet state. In an emergency session, the two houses of parliament unanimously voted in a motion urging President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent. (...) >>>

Updated: 25th Aug. 2008
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Radio Free Europe: "U.S. Warship Delivers Humanitarian Aid to Georgia, While Russian Troops Remain"

A U.S. warship carrying humanitarian aid has arrived in Georgia, as authorities assess the damage to the country's main east-west rail line after a fuel train hit a mine and exploded. The guided missile destroyer USS McFaul entered Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi, carrying humanitarian goods such as blankets, hygiene kits, and baby food. It's the first delivery of U.S. aid to Georgia by sea. (...) Other U.S. vessels are scheduled to follow later this week. The United States has already delivered aid by military cargo plane.

The United Nations says the conflict has displaced 150,000 people in Georgia, including South Ossetia. (...)
Russia, ignoring Western demands to remove its remaining troops from Georgia's heartland, are still in control of the key Georgian port of Poti, some 80 kilometers north of Batumi. (...) infrastructure at Poti was severely damaged during the fighting, preventing ships the size of the USS McFaul from using the port at this time (...) Tbilisi had reached a deal with Moscow for the withdrawal of the Russian soldiers from Poti on August 24, but Russian officials said they could not confirm this. Russian forces also continue to man checkpoints near the strategic town of Gori, in central Georgia. Russia says its remaining troops are peacekeepers (...) Moscow maintains its current positions are in accordance with the six principles of a French-brokered cease-fire plan, an assertion contradicted by Georgian, U.S., and European leaders. (...)

Georgian officials are assessing the scale of the damage from the fuel train blast, which has added to simmering tensions and could potentially disrupt a key trade route for oil exports from Azerbaijan to European markets. (...)
an investigation is under way and that other mines had been found on the tracks. Georgian forces also removed a large artillery shell that had been jammed under the tracks and covered with stones. (...) authorities have begun to de-mine areas previously occupied by Russian forces. But he said the latest incidents show that the authorities will have to expand the scope of their efforts. (...) >>>
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The Star: Russia's 'victory' may prove costly"

(...) The Kremlin poured 10,000 troops into Georgia and had nothing but contempt for what it called "empty words" and "hints and mumbling" from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While Russian troops finally wound down their occupation yesterday, their tank treads have reshaped the geopolitical landscape. But Putin's victory may prove costlier than he reckoned. U.S. President George Bush and his likely successors now face calls to "contain" Russia, after having treated it as a trading partner and an ally on terror since the Cold War ended.

While NATO is divided (...) has suspended the NATO-Russia Council (...) has upgraded ties with Georgia, and reaffirmed that Ukraine and Georgia are future candidates for membership in the military alliance. At the UN, Russia is under pressure to respect Georgia's sovereignty. While Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has drawn justified criticism for sparking the crisis, Washington and its allies still support him, intent on preventing Russia from making Georgia a client state.

The Western allies also plan to help rebuild Georgia's infrastructure and rearm it with anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons so that it can better defend itself. Pointedly, the U.S. has used military planes to send in aid. There have been calls as well to kick Russia out of the Group of Eight club of industrial nations. And to bar Russia from the World Trade Organization. This won't boost investor confidence. If the Kremlin had hoped to intimidate former Soviet countries with sizeable Russian minorities from seeking closer ties with the U.S. and its allies, the plan may backfire.

Russia's support for separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will likely spur other countries to seek U.S. security guarantees to deter Russian interference in their affairs. Within NATO, the U.S. has just struck a deal with Poland to base missile defences there, over Moscow's furious opposition. Russia is undeniably a force to be reckoned with. It has used its diplomatic, economic and technological clout to lean on Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania and other former satellites. And it can make trouble for the U.S. by selling arms to places such as Syria and Iran, and by refusing to help thwart terror and nuclear proliferation. (...) Russia will emerge from this crisis energized, but more isolated at the UN, facing a new and more hostile U.S. administration, and with neighbours who are scrambling to arm themselves against a bully. (...) >>>

Updated: 24th Aug. 2008
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IHT: "NATO ships enter Black Sea for exercises"

NATO warships entered the Black Sea on Thursday for what the alliance said were long-planned exercises and routine visits to ports in Romania and Bulgaria. The move is not linked to the tensions over Russia's invasion of Georgia (...) Three warships — from Spain, Germany and Poland — sailed into the Black Sea on Thursday. They are due to be joined by a U.S. frigate, the USS Taylor, later this week. They are "conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning," said Vice-Adm. Pim Bedet, deputy commander at allied maritime headquarters in Northwood, England. (...) >>>
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... Governments, security services, everyone must have been comatose in the run up to the incursion. Blogger Diana Chachua is relaying an article on Radio Liberty ...

Peace in Georgia: "Did Russia Plan Its War In Georgia?" by Brian Whitmore

Less than one month before Russia's armed forces entered Georgia on August 8 and held massive military training exercises in the North Caucasus involving 8,000 servicemen and 700 pieces of military hardware. At center stage in those maneuvers -- which took place in the second half of July, not far from Georgia's border -- was Russia's 58th Army, the very unit that would later play a key role in the incursion. Those exercises were just one link in a chain of incidents suggesting that Russia's military action in Georgia was planned months in advance, awaiting only an appropriate pretext to act.

Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says the aim, from the start, was to overthrow Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and his pro-Western government.
"This was prepared long ago (...) April -- the month in which Felgenhauer claims Russia made its decision to invade -- was also the month when the NATO military alliance declined to offer outright a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine at its annual summit in Bucharest. In an August 14 article published in the "Novaya gazeta" weekly, Felgenhauer, who is credited with maintaining close sources in the Russian military, claims Moscow's plan began taking shape shortly after Georgia and Ukraine were denied a MAP.

(...)
Such interpretations contradict the official narrative of the war promoted relentlessly by the Kremlin in the domestic and international media -- that Russian forces acted only in order to defend Russian citizens and peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia from Georgian soldiers intent on "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" in the breakaway region. For now, there is no smoking gun to prove Russia methodically plotted its incursion into Georgia (...) >>> read it all

Updated: 22nd Aug. 2008
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Times Online: "Divided they stand: Nato searches for a strategy to confront Russia"

The Russian Army continued to occupy Georgia in defiance of the West yesterday as Nato leaders gathered to hammer out a united response to the new military threat from Moscow. There was no sign of a withdrawal from Georgian soil despite a declaration from Moscow that a pullout had begun. The Georgian Government in Tbilisi countered that Russian forces were still trying to take more territory. Nato foreign ministers will meet in Brussels todayt o confront the first Russian invasion of a neighbour since the end of the Cold War. The United States, Britain and many Eastern European states are pressing for a tough stance but France, Germany and others are reluctant to alienate Moscow. (...) >>>

Updated: 19th Aug. 2008
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The People's Cube: "Red Primer for Children and Diplomats"

(...) The Soviets' love for their fellow men never recognized borders. The new Ukrainian Republic was allowed to join the new Russian Soviet Republics..."voluntarily."

The independence of the new Georgian Republic was also granted by the Soviets in 1921. To "guarantee" this "independence," the Soviets incorporated Georgia into the Soviet Union eight months later, after Red Army invasion. (...) >>>

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... this relic is dating back exactly one year: 15th August 2007

The Standard: "The New Russia: Georgia Alleges Second Attack in Four Months - Missile Lands in Georgian Village"

Georgia has accused Russia of an "undisguised aggression," claiming two Russian Su24 jets entered Georgian airspace on August 7 and fired (or "ditched", according to other reports) a missile that landed near a house in the village of Tsitelubani.

The missile did not explode. (See The New York Times and the BBC for August 7 coverage.)

Georgia has called for an emergency UN meeting. Russia has denied all allegations.

The United States has called the act a "provocation" and the European Union has urged all sides to show restraint.

Meanwhile, the good people at The Economist have put the incident in context.

But there's much more context.

Well... A Second Missile Attack

As The Wall Street Journal notes, this was the second time in four months that Georgia has lodged a complaint with the international community regarding a Russian attack. (...)

Probably nothing to worry about... (...) >>>

Updated: 18th Aug. 2008
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... ambiguously worded article ...

Prague Daily Monitor: "Four dozen Czechs sign condolence book for Georgian victims"

Czech President Václav Klaus condemned Georgia's attack on its separatist province South Ossetia, the murdering of civilians in the area and the massive intervention by the Russian military in an interview for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. He refused to draw parallels between the situation in Georgia and the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. (...) western politicians who pushed through the recognition of independent Kosovo (...) indirectly contributed to the war conflict in the Caucasus. The recognition of Kosovo has created a precedent which Russia used for its military intervention in the Georgian separatist regions >>>

Updated: 18th Aug. 2008
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Human Rights News: "Georgian Villages in South Ossetia Burnt, Looted"

Human Rights Watch researchers in South Ossetia on August 12, 2008, saw ethnic Georgian villages still burning from fires set by South Ossetian militias, witnessed looting by the militias, and learned firsthand of the plight of ethnic Ossetian villagers who had fled Georgian soldiers during the Georgian-Russian conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. In South Ossetia, Human Rights Watch researchers traveling on the evening of August 12 on the road from the town of Java to Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, witnessed terrifying scenes of destruction in four villages that used to be populated exclusively by ethnic Georgians. According to the few remaining local residents, South Ossetian militias that were moving along the road looted the Georgian villages and set them on fire. Human Rights Watch saw numerous vehicles carrying South Ossetian militia members, as well as Russian military transports moving in the direction of Tskhinvali. (...) >>>

Updated: 16th Aug. 2008
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New York Times: "Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks"

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace. Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: “win+love+in+Rusia.” Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.

Researchers at Shadowserver, a volunteer group that tracks malicious network activity, reported that the Web site of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, had been rendered inoperable for 24 hours by multiple D.D.O.S. attacks. They said the command and control server that directed the attack was based in the United States and had come online several weeks before it began the assault. As it turns out, the July attack may have been a dress rehearsal for an all-out cyberwar once the shooting started between Georgia and Russia. According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a known cyberattack had coincided with a shooting war. But it will likely not be the last (...) >>>

Updated: 15th Aug. 2008
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... dezinformatsiya ...

EUX.TV: "Russia Accuses EUX.TV of 'Dirty Propaganda'"

The Russian embassy at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels has accused EUX.TV, the Europe channel, of "Russophobe" reporting that supports "dirty propaganda aims."

Reacting per email to an analysis article on the EUX.TV website, Alexey Zaytsev, press officer at the Russian Mission to NATO, said an article published on Tuesday shows the webtv channel's "interest in anti-russian campaign very clear." The article involved, written by EUX.TV editor Raymond Frenken, was published under the headline "Russia's Contempt for Free Press Kills Dutch Journalist". Click to read it.

It analysed media coverage of the war in Georgia in the light of the killing earlier that day of Dutch RTL Nieuws journalist Stan Storimans, who was reporting from the Georgian town of Gori. The article mentioned a number of examples of questionable reporting both on the Russia Today TV channel and on CNN to underline the need for independent reporting from inside a conflict zone. "I'm not in the mood to analyse your Russophobe scribblings," (...) >>>

Updated: 14th Aug. 2008
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Video of a 12th August rally in Tbilisi, attended by the Presidents of the other independent states of the Russian 'near abroad.'

... the following Black Five articles are a central source of detailed information ... some in the new Europe, the former Warsaw Pact countries, are in near panic (can you blame them?) ...

Black Five: "The Devil Went To Georgia"

And the devil is in the details. Putin has made quite clear that the only acceptable solution for him is annexing the Sudetenland, er, South Ossetia (and quite possibly Abkhazia, which might also require the Georgian port of Poti) and a Georgia with essentially no military power and back firmly under Moscow's control. I.E. forget democracy, forget elections, and most of all forget NATO and any thought of becoming Westernized. Yet, is that all that he is after? (...) For those that are still fixated on the idea that Georgia started this and Russia simply responded, answer me how what appears to be multiple combined-arms groups just happened to be able to respond so quickly, including the sortie of parts of the Black Sea fleet? It takes a lot of time, planning, and even movement and stockpiling of logistics to make that happen. The troubling question raised is how was it missed (...) the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia issue a joint statement condemning Russia and its actions. (...) >>>

... and a few observations from the old, liberal school: "

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Fundamentally at stake is what kind of role Russia will play in the new international system. Unfortunately, Putin is putting Russia on a course that is ominously similar to Stalin's and Hitler's in the late 1930s. Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has correctly drawn an analogy between Putin's "justification" for dismembering Georgia -- because of the Russians in South Ossetia -- to Hitler's tactics vis a vis Czechoslovakia to "free" the Sudeten Deutsch.

Even more ominous is the analogy of what Putin is doing vis-a-vis Georgia to what Stalin did vis-a-vis Finland: subverting by use of force the sovereignty of a small democratic neighbor. In effect, morally and strategically, Georgia is the Finland of our day

The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin's control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/ Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdepedent world (...)

Updated: 11th Aug. 2008
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SF Gate: "Georgia's oil pipeline is key to U.S. support"

(...) The pipeline that crosses Georgia can pump slightly more than 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, or more than 1 percent of the world's daily crude output. The 1,100-mile pipeline carries oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea fields, estimated to hold the world's third-largest reserves. Its potential vulnerability was already in the spotlight after it was sabotaged this week, apparently by Kurdish separatists. Most of the oil is bound for Western Europe, where gas prices are even higher than the $4 and more a gallon that U.S. consumers are now paying. With only so much oil to go around, what the pipeline carries affects prices elsewhere. The United States also hopes it will be a model for other development projects that could have a more direct effect on the U.S. market. (...) >>>

Reuters: "Russian jets targeted major oil pipeline-Georgia"

Russian fighter jets targeted the the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline which carries oil to the West from Asia but missed, Georgia's Economic Development Minister Ekaterina Sharashidze said on Saturday. (...) There have been no independent verifications (...) >>>

Updated: 10th Aug. 2008
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Politeia: "The Heat is on in the Caucasus"

A handful of orthodox thinkers have been warning for years of the dangers of Kosovo breaking away from Serbia, to no avail: how can any number of separatist actions be avoided with that precedent in mind? Ironically it was only Russia that supported Serbia in seeking to preserve its territorial integrity, but the postmodern tranzies wanted Kosovo's independence. Today in Georgia the shoe is on the other foot with Russia in the role of NATO, playing the humanitarian card. But no one is prepared as yet to interpret the Ossetian bit for independence as a 'Lockean revolution.' (...) >>>

Updated: 10th Aug. 2008
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Georgia and the South Caucasus: "BACKGROUND: Russian Invasion of Georgia," by George Gvishiani

Please distribute to all relevant platforms on the facebook or on other websites this statement of the Georgian Embassy in the US (they are my friends). File is attached and main text is in this e-mail below. I've just talked with Government in Tbilisi and with our Embassy here ... Almost all Gov. sites are down. Here is the text. Russian planes are hitting Poti where we have main communication points. (...) During the last 24 hours military forces of the Russian Federation in coordination with the Russian-supported and supplied South Ossetian militia launched combined air and ground attacks on Georgian territory. This act of aggression is tantamount to an invasion and declaration of war against Georgia and comes at a time when Georgia has been trying to integrate itself with Euro-Atlantic institutions and strengthen its democracy and free market economy. Ground attacks by Russian and South Ossetian military forces have taken place (...) >>>

Updated: 9th Aug. 2008
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Danger Room: "Did the U.S. Prep Georgia for War with Russia?"

Georgia and Russia are careening towards war. And the U.S. isn't exactly a detached observer in the fight. The American military has been training and equipping Georgian troops for years. The news thus far: Georgia, which has been locked in a drone war over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia, has launched an offensive to reclaim another breakaway territory, South Ossetia. Latest reports indicate that Georgian forces are laying siege to Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. And Russia, which has backed the separatists, is sending in the tanks. So why should we care? Oh, just the prospect of a larger regional war that could drag in Russia – and involve the United States as well. When I last visited South Ossetia, Georgian troops manned a checkpoint outside Tskhinvali -- decked out in surplus U.S. Army uniforms and new body armor. (...) One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. “We’re giving them the knife,” he said. “Will they use it?” >>>

Updated: 9th Aug. 2008
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Middle East Forum: "The Rise of the Chechen Emirate?" by Dmitry Shlapentokh


Chechnya has been at war with Russia for generations. By 1999, when the second Chechen war broke out, two resistance groups had emerged: nationalists and jihadists. While long simmering below the surface, the schism between the two camps erupted publicly in 2006 on the Internet after Akhmed Khalidovich Zakaev, the moderate foreign minister of the shadow Chechen government, argued that the goal of the Chechen resistance should be an independent Chechen state modeled after Western democracies and integrated into the global community. Movladi Udugov, a jihadist and editor of Kavkaz Center, the best-known online resistance publication, vehemently disagreed and declared that for real Muslims, spiritual bonds should be more important than blood ties. He argued that he would rather embrace ethnic Russians who had converted to Islam than Chechens who had strayed from their religion. There was no point modeling society after Western states, he contended, because all non-Muslim states, or those that are Muslim only in name but not in essence, are corrupt. Instead, Chechens should fight for the establishment of a global caliphate. (...) >>>

Updated: 15th July 2008

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