Saturday, August 09, 2008

Russia and Georgia go to War over South Ossetia

It has begun. The Second South Ossetia War has started between Georgia against South Ossetia and its ally Russia. Oddly, everyone thought multi-ethnic South Ossetia was pretty quiet compared to ethnically cleansed, war wanting Abkhazia.

Trouble has been brewing since earlier this month. Sniper fire killed and wounded dozens of Georgians and Ossteians since August first. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced a cease fire but events on the seventh which left one Georgian BMP-2 destroyed and up to twenty-two Osstenians dead and made the cease fire worthless. (See Zone of Control map before conflict)

Saakashvili ordered Georgia to go in and go in hard. My personal assessment is Saakashvili knew Georgia's forces at the border could take the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali from the rebels and their backers, the Russian peace keepers. Saakashvili then probably hoped for a cease fire with the capital in Georgian hands. This would leave the rebels with a few holdings in hilly farmland country but little more.

It was a good plan. Expect for the fact Russia is not about to lose their clients and suffer at the same time. Around a dozen or so Russians were killed in the opening hours. Russia then responded by pouring in troops to retake Tskinvali and possibly destroy the Georgian-backed Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia. Russia also began shelling military positions in Georgia proper along with aerial attacks of Georgian airfields. Al Jezzerah reported Georgia shot down five Russian jets in the fighting though not much anti-aircraft resistence is now available.

Georgia announced its intention to remove 1,000 soliders in Iraq to fight against Russia but it may be too little too late. Russia meanwhile is having a field day showing press videos of T-80 tanks against Georgian light infantry. The United Nations of course does nothing.

On another front, Russia continues to expand cyber warfare capablities with Georgian websites being defaced.

This is a nightmare. Besides the fact war is horrible, this will set all sorts of new boundaries in the Russia versus the West Geopolitical War. If Russia can save South Ossetia and take them away from Georgia then might makes right. It also serves as a warning to those who wish to join NATO. The message would be "Russia can take away pieces of your territory." It could also justify a more Eurasian Serbian government's forceful attempt to take back ethnic Serbian parts of Kosovo.

Geogrian President Saakashvili is not perfect. However, he is very pro-West, anti-terrorism, and pushes democratic reforms so his country may one day join the Europen Union and NATO. If Georgia, a Eurasian country that turned into a European one, fails; then democrats the world over will begin to wonder if the West truely supports them when the going gets rough.


BadTux said...

This is of course Russian payback for Kosovo. According to Russia, Kosovo is part of Serbia and the election where Kosovo declared independence is illegitimate. So they are going to do the same to South Ossetia -- support a separatist movement, go in as "peacekeepers", and hold an election where the people of South Ossetia declare independence. And of course claim Kosovo as the precedent. As you point out, there's not a little bit of hypocrisy involved. But then, hypocrisy is the lubricant that makes politics go 'round.

It's all a game of chess to these people. Tit for tat. The West seizes part of a Russian client state, Russia seizes a part of a Western client state. And all the West is going to do is wring their hands and whine. The U.S. military is fully involved in Iraq and Afghanistan -- there are no forces available to send to Georgia even if there was a will to get involved in a land war with Russia, which there isn't. Western Europe will merely wring their hands because they're dependent upon Russian oil and gas and can't risk getting cut off from that. So Saakashvili is about to find out the same thing that President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu of South Vietnam or President Lon Nol of Cambodia found out -- that Western promises aren't worth the paper they're written on if the promises conflict with the geopolitical realities facing the West. So it goes.

- Badtux the Geopolitical Penguin

Catholicgauze said...

I wish I could say you are wrong. I fear you are right on all counts.