Monday, September 1, 2008

Caucasian Heat: archive

To active file <<<

- CNN just reported that Georgia's media savvy President Saakashvili has revealed that following phone calls were made during the crisis: Gordon Brown, once; Angela Merkel, 5 calls; George Bush, 9 calls; Nicolas Sarkozy, 20 calls. -

Telegraph: "
American flagship docks at Georgia port occupied by Russia"

US warship anchored at the disputed Georgian port of Poti as Russia declared it would not challenge Nato vessels bringing relief to the beleaguered democracy through the Black Sea.

Updated: 5th Sep 2008
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... amidst Russian touch talk that "backing Georgia would be a mistake", a unisono but toothless demand for "scrupulous application of the six-point peace plan"; there is a deadline though, next Monday, or else ...

Euronews: "
EU Summit: EU threatens end to partnership talks with Moscow"

The EU’s 27 leaders, brought together by current EU president France to thrash out a response to the Georgian crisis at the bloc’s first extraordinary summit in six years, has released a joint communique. In it the EU has achieved consensus; there will be no sanctions now, but an immediate threat to postpone important Russia-EU partnership talks due to resume in two weeks. “In agreement with all the EU members we are going to Moscow and Tibilisi on Monday to demand the scrupulous application of the six-point peace plan,” said summit head and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. >>>
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Irish Times: "Russia says backing Georgia would be 'mistake'"

Russia warned the West today against supporting Georgia's leadership and called for an arms embargo against the ex-Soviet republic until a different government is in place. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks are likely to anger the United States and Europe and enrage Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. (...) Moscow wants Mr Saakashvili out of power in Georgia. "If (...) the United States and its allies choose the Saakashvili regime, this will be a mistake of truly historic proportions," he said. (...) His comments came as US Vice President Dick Cheney prepares to leave for a trip to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Italy tomorrow. (...) >>>
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EUX.TV: "Russia Says Ready to Accept EU Police Mission in Georgian Buffer Zones"

Leaders of the 27 countries in the European Union are to agree on Monday to send an EU police mission to Georgia as soon as possible. Russia, meanwhile, said it's ready to accept these EU police monitors also inside the buffer zones with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

(...) Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, told a conference (...) that Russia is willing to accept such an EU police mission inside the buffer zones it has set up near the borders with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (...) the presidents and prime ministers of the 27 member states are expected to agree to "place relations under observation" until the EU-Russia summit that is scheduled for November (...) >>>

More reactions:

- RIA Novosti: "Italy's Berlusconi urges against new standoff with Russia"
- EU Business: "Russia calls on EU leaders to reject NATO"

1st Sep. 2008
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Austin American-Statesman: "Austin family says son not part of Russia-Georgia conflict - Russians say they found Michael Lee White's passport in breakaway province in neighboring Georgia"

(...) In a Moscow news conference Thursday, a Russian general had displayed a blown-up photo showing Michael Lee White's U.S. passport, which he claimed was found in a war-torn, breakaway province of Georgia, a former Soviet republic. (...) In an interview with CNN, Putin said the passport gave him reason to suspect U.S. military involvement in the Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia and "raises the suspicion that someone in the United States deliberately created this conflict in order to worsen the situation." (...) Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian general staff, said Russian troops had found White's passport in the rubble of a village near Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. A Georgian special forces unit had been based in the village, he said. John White said that it's unlikely his brother had recently left the passport behind because, among other reasons, Michael Lee White spent most of August in Austin helping care for his hospitalized father (...) Michael Lee White — reached by e-mail in Guangzhou, China, where he is a lecturer at the Guangdong University of Business Studies — said Saturday that his passport was stolen during a flight from Moscow to New York in December 2005. (...) said he had no idea how the passport ended up in South Ossetia. (...) >>>
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... the UN has confirmed this report ...

Poligazette: "
Georgia: Russia Troops Blocking Refugee Return"

‘Russian troops deep inside Georgian territory are stopping thousands of refugees from returning to their homes, a Georgian official said on Saturday,’ Reuters reports. ‘Russian soldiers were still manning checkpoints in Georgia and patrolling a Black Sea port even after Moscow pulled back much of the force it deployed three weeks ago to crush Georgia’s attempt to take back separatist province South Ossetia.’ (...) Moscow pretends to be reasonable, when it is not. (...) It uses every opportunity it has to bully its neighbor to the South, and to punish it for it considers to be ‘bad behavior’; protecting its own rather than Russia’s interests. (...) >>>
Updated: 31st Aug. 2008
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... in the proceedings instituted by the Republic of Georgia against the Russian Federation the International Court of Justice in The Hague (not to be confused with the International Criminal Court) has let it be known in an unofficial press release dated 15th August that "the hearings on the request made by the Republic of Georgia for the indication of provisional measures have now been fixed for 8-10 September 2008. The Court will at this juncture have to decide whether or not it has prima facie jurisdiction in respect of the case brought by the Republic of Georgia and whether the conditions for the indication of provisional measures are met."
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... Diana Chachua on "Peace in Georgia" relays a pretty comprehensive update of the situation in the country: "
Russia says it has started pulling back from Georgian soil, but there are few if any signs that it means business. Therefore, the war is not over yet. Despite this, Neal Ascherson and Ivan Krastev have on openDemocracy already started taking stock of the possible results of the war. I will join them in these attempts - though all of us should understand that while Russia continues trying to change the situation on the ground through military means, any such assessments can only be rather tentative (...) >>>
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... here's no time lost in acknowledging the Cold War dialectic ... why do we keep on pouring money into that hellhole? ...

Rustavi 2: "Hamas welcomes Russian recognition for Abkhazia, South Ossetia"
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Ynet: "Georgia breaks diplomatic ties with Russia"

Georgia to sever ties with Russia in protest to military presence in its territory, Russia criticizes move. PM Putin warns EU against isolating Russia over Georgia conflict to serve US interests, says it may lead to lack of cooperation on Iranian issue (...) >>>

Updated: 29th Aug. 2008
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Politeia: "
Georgian Crisis: Ten Reasons Why Russia is to Blame"

(...) Russia (...) claims Georgia provoked (...) when 'the regime' dastardly attacked the South Ossetian town of Tskhinvali with heavy artillery on the opening morning of the Beijing Olympics (08/08/08) (...) military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent, Moscow-based defense analyst gives another sequence of events in "The Russian-Georgian War was preplanned in Moscow": "Late in the evening of August 7, a heavy mortar bombardment of Georgian villages near the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali provoked Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to order a major assault. (...) they believe that some KGB remnant in the Kremlin holds the secret to a Cold War period black-op, that enables them to levitate military hardware, as well as large troops contingents into the region practically overnight, by a sheer act of the will (thought creates reality). One just wonders what to make of the rapid deployment of the Black Sea naval task force, and the fact that large contingents of troops were also poured into Abkhazia. (...) This blog coincidentally stumbled upon a one year old item ("The New Russia: Georgia Alleges Second Attack in Four Months," (...) that Russia has been hurling missiles into Georgia since August 2007! (...) the event that the US had to airlift some 2,000 Georgian troops from Iraq after the fact, and not before, is a strong indication there was no premeditated intention of poking the bear on the part of the Georgian Government that was at the time for the most part, enjoying their holidays. And then, there's the comment (...that) the aim, from the start, was to overthrow the Georgian Government and the that trap was laid long ago, actually in April when NATO declined to offer Georgia and Ukraine a Membership Action Plan.(...) After the fact you've also got to relativize away the Human Rights Watch report, and before it the cyber-attacks, which turned out to be private initiatives. And intimidating and targeting the press is of course totally off topic. Also the wider economic and geopolitical pointers must be ignored (...) having done all that successfully, the fact that the playbook is the mirror carbon copy of the Kosovo precedent, must also be ducked. If we turn to Brian Whitmore of Liberty Radio we read: " 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 (...) 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." (...) US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza stated in Tbilisi, "Now we know" the true mission of the Railroad troops in Abkhazia (...) >>>

Updated: 28th Aug. 2008
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... that'll give the military chess players in Moscow something to ponder ... given their own cynical po
sition of 'peace enforcement' the humanitarian angle takes some getting used to ... or are they perhaps confused because of 'unrelated' NATO exercises in the Black Sea region?

RIA Novosti: "U
.S. warships bring aid to Georgia, fueling tensions with Russia"

(...) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the U.S. ships are delivering weaponry for Georgia's armed forces, and has denied that Russian troops are still patrolling Poti. "We are not controlling it, and are not blockading it - this is nonsense," he said in an interview with French TV channel TF1. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. warships are raising tensions in the region. "Battleships do not normally deliver aid, and this is gunboat diplomacy - it does not make the situation more stable," he said.

(...) NATO warships currently stationed in the Black Sea are carrying over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles between them. The Western military alliance began exercises in the sea on Friday involving U.S., German, Spanish and Polish vessels. Lavrov said on Tuesday that "virtually all states that are supplying arms to Georgia are NATO member countries." A senior Russian naval official said on Wednesday that measures are in place to prevent the smuggling of arms in the region.

"We are controlling territorial waters and the adjacent area, ensuring shipping safety, and preventing the smuggling of arms and military vehicles," Vice Adm. Sergei Menyailo, commander of the Novorossiisk naval base said. Russia's General Staff said on Tuesday that there were 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea - three U.S. warships, the Polish frigate General Pulaski, the German frigate FGS Lubeck, and the Spanish navy ship Admiral Juan de Borbon, as well as four Turkish vessels. (...) >>>
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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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