Friday, August 08, 2008

Georgia says Russian tanks mean 'war' in South Ossetia

Georgia says Russian tanks mean 'war' in South Ossetia - Times Online: "Russia sent troops and dozens of tanks into the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia today, throwing the two former Soviet neighbours into a sudden yet undeclared state of war.

In the most serious regional crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, at least 50 tanks – and possibly many more – rumbled through the Roki tunnel, which cuts through the Caucasus mountains separating South Ossetia from the Russian province of North Ossetia.

'One hundred and fifty Russian tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles have entered South Ossetia,” President Saakashvili of Georgia told reporters in Tbilisi. “This is a clear intrusion on another country’s territory. We have Russian tanks on our territory, jets on our territory in broad daylight.'

Mr Saakashvili added that Georgian forces had downed two Russian jet fighters over Georgian territory.

Georgia mobilised its reservists yesterday and launched a military offensive to regain control over South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia after it gained independence."
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http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1358
Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, Aug. 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax.

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin threatened a “military response.”

Former Soviet Georgia called up its military reserves after Russian warplanes bombed its new positions in the renegade province.

In Moscow’s first response to the fall of Tskhinvali, president Dimitry Medvedev ordered the Russian army to prepare for a national emergency after calling the UN Security Council into emergency session early Friday.

Reinforcements were rushed to the Russian “peacekeeping force” present in the region to support the separatists.

Georgian tanks entered the capital after heavy overnight heavy aerial strikes, in which dozens of people were killed.

Lado Gurgenidze, Georgia's prime minister, said on Friday that Georgia will continue its military operation in South Ossetia until a "durable peace" is reached. "As soon as a durable peace takes hold we need to move forward with dialogue and peaceful negotiations."

DEBKAfile’s geopolitical experts note that on the surface level, the Russians are backing the separatists of S. Ossetia and neighboring Abkhazia as payback for the strengthening of American influence in tiny Georgia and its 4.5 million inhabitants. However, more immediately, the conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region.

The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.

Saakashvili need only back away from this plan for Moscow to ditch the two provinces’ revolt against Tbilisi. As long as he sticks to his guns, South Ossetia and Abkhazia will wage separatist wars.

DEBKAfile discloses Israel’s interest in the conflict from its exclusive military sources:

Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean.

Aware of Moscow’s sensitivity on the oil question, Israel offered Russia a stake in the project but was rejected.

Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday.

In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia, finally threatening a crisis in bilateral relations. Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilisi was “defensive.”

This has not gone down well in the Kremlin. Therefore, as the military crisis intensifies in South Ossetia, Moscow may be expected to punish Israel for its intervention.
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http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/russia/articles/20080808.aspx
War With Georgia
August 8, 2007: A week of fighting in Georgia (on Russians southern border in the Caucasus) was apparently a Georgian attempt to finally defeat ethnic separatists in the breakaway area of South Ossetia (population 50,000). Georgia announced that it had liberated the separatist area. Russia has not yet announced if it will go to war to support the, apparently, defeated South Ossetian separatists.


There is a second such area; Abkhazia (population 200,000). Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, and a hostile relationship (going back centuries) with Russia. In response to this bad attitude, Russia has backed the rebels of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (which are on the Russian border) since the early 1990s. Georgia was part of the Soviet Union (and Russia) for over two centuries. Georgians tolerated this for a long time as the only way to keep the Moslem Turks out of Christian Georgia. But with the end of the Cold War, this was no longer an issue and the Georgians wanted the Russians gone. The Russians considered the Georgians ungrateful and unreliable (for allowing Chechen rebels to hide out in neighboring Georgian mountains.)


The fighting in South Ossetia and Abkhazia had stopped over a decade ago, because Georgia could not muster sufficient military force to regain control of the two breakaway border areas. Then a UN brokered peace deal brought in several thousand Russian peacekeepers. About ten days ago, there were were reports of gunfire and mortar shells exploding in South Ossetia. In the last few days, Georgian Su-25 ground attack aircraft were seen hitting targets in South Ossetia. Artillery shells were reported to have hit a Russian peace keeper barracks. Russia announced that it was sending more peacekeeping troops to South Ossetia. Russian aircraft were reported to have bombed targets just inside Georgia. Russia was unable to get the UN to pass a resolution demanding that Georgia cease efforts to get back control of its territory.

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