Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Truth About Russia in Georgia

The other side.

Michael J. Totten: The Truth About Russia in Georgia
Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

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.

Regional expert, German native, and former European Commission official Patrick Worms was recently hired by the Georgian government as a media advisor, and he explained to me exactly what happened when I met him in downtown Tbilisi. You should always be careful with the version of events told by someone on government payroll even when the government is friendly as democratic as Georgia's. I was lucky, though, that another regional expert, author and academic Thomas Goltz, was present during Worms' briefing to me and signed off on it as completely accurate aside from one tiny quibble.


Anonymous said...

What you have to remember though is that the vast majority of Ossetians would rather DIE than be a part of an independent Georgian state. If the population would rather exist under Russian control, what gives Saakashvili the right to force them into Georgian borders? It seems a little unusual as well that Georgia's response to "seperatist provocation" is the destruction of EIGHTY PERCENT of Tshkinvali. Not the destruction of a military base but the complete annihilation of churces, schools, hospitals and homes. Not to mention killing Russian PEACEKEEPERS. Not Russian soldiers but PEACEKEEPERS that were put in place in conjuction with Georgian peacekeepers to prevent this conflict from escalating like it did in 92'. Is Russia right in retaliating with such an excess of troops and firepower? No. Is Georgia right in launching an imperialistic crusade against Ossetia under the guise of a desire for "democracy"? No. Is the US right in giving 1 Billion AMERICAN tax dollars to fuel what may very well turn into a second cold war? Of course not. No single government is right in this conflict. And it is an absolute shame that innocents have to die over something as trivial as a huge chunk of dirt.

Ron Ballew said...

You didn't read Totten's article did you. Russia set this up and now will not leave S. Ossetia and look to be refusing to leave Georgia proper.