DISPATCHES FROM MOON OF ALABAMA, BY “B”
Repost: Saakashvili Wants War? He Will Get It.
This is a repost. The original was published 10 years ago, just a few hours after that little war in Georgia began.
Despite yesterday’s announced ceasefire, the government of Georgia today launched an all out military attack on the breakaway region South Ossetia in northern Georgia.
There are multiple reasons for this conflict. South Ossetia declared itself independent in the early 1990s. Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group with some 60,000 living in South Ossetia and some 500,000 living in North Ossetia which is a part of Russia. Most people in South Ossetia have a Russian passport and there are UN mandated Russian peacekeepers there.
In the bigger picture Georgia is supported by ‘the west’ as part of an energy transport corridor from the Caspian to the Black Sea.
In 2003 the U.S. engineered Rose revolution brought the U.S. trained lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili to the top of Georgia. He since ruled with a dubious civil rights record. When opposition demonstrations in November 2007 became too big he imposed a state of emergency and suppressed the media.
Why Saakashvili decided to escalate this conflict right now is a bit mysterious. He may hope that the Olympics will distract from the conflict. He seems to have some ‘western’ support for this escalation:
At the request of Russia, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in New York but failed to reach consensus early Friday on a Russian-drafted statement.
The council concluded it was at a stalemate after the U.S., Britain and some other members backed the Georgians in rejecting a phrase in the three-sentence draft statement that would have required both sides “to renounce the use of force,” council diplomats said.
For internal reasons as much as on foreign policy ground Russia will not allow Saakashvili to take over South Ossetia. It will either support the Ossetians with weapons which may lead to a prolonged guerrilla war, or it may even invade on its own.
Saakashvili already claims Russian intervention in form of air assaults and uses this as a pretext for mobilization of reserves. I’d take that with some grains of salt as it sounds like coming from the Gleiwitz radio station. If three Russian planes really bombed Georgia, they would have left damage. So far none was shown.
Saakashvili may hope for physical help from ‘the west’, but neither NATO nor the EU has any appetite to support his escapades.
What led him to this miscalculation?So far the repost. Saakashvili’s little war unfolded pretty much as foreseen above. After the Georgian artillery attack on Russian peacekeepers the Russian army responded and within five days Georgia was defeated and disarmed. The status quo ante was reinstated. Saakashvili ate his tie (vid).
After the short war Russia diligently analyzed its losses and failures. The war gave impetus to the development of new weapons and tactics. Russian airplanes were equipped with new electronics. Better communication and coordination within the ground troops was emphasized. The high operational capabilities the Russian military demonstrates in Syria would not exist to their extent had that little war not happened.
The other side of the war – the U.S., NATO and Georgia – seems to have learned nothing from it.
Documentary on this short war, which still collected lives and created its own heroes.
The above is a fine, no-frills documentary (this is no Hollywood, for sure) showing the Russian counter-offensive in South Ossetia, filmed at the grunt level. The concluding scene, an homage to one of the Russian heroes, is heart-rending.
Published on Oct 25, 2016
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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