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jelly

Caucasus conflict

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Hart

Agent17: So is USA just going to stay in Iraq? When are they pulling out, cause arent the planning to?

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D- Ice

Everyone keeps mentioning the threat of an 'All-out War'. I don't understand that, aren't they already in an all-out war? What else do you call soldiers fighting, tanks and military jets bombing places? And hows all-out war supposed to be different from that?

Thanks.

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Hart
Everyone keeps mentioning the threat of an 'All-out War'. I don't understand that, aren't they already in an all-out war? What else do you call soldiers fighting, tanks and military jets bombing places? And hows all-out war supposed to be different from that?

Thanks.

They're not using the full extent of their forces yet.

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Barciur
Everyone keeps mentioning the threat of an 'All-out War'. I don't understand that, aren't they already in an all-out war? What else do you call soldiers fighting, tanks and military jets bombing places? And hows all-out war supposed to be different from that?

Thanks.

They're not using the full extent of their forces yet.

And there is no other involvement - if NATO gets in with their forces, that's what probably could be called "all-out-war".

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agent17
Agent17: So is USA just going to stay in Iraq? When are they pulling out, cause arent the planning to?

Not from what I have heard, although I have not been able to fully track the situation in Iraq the last I have heard is that there are only plans in place to remove certain forces in Iraq, there is no plan in place to abandon Iraq at this time from what I have heard. Also, it should be worth noting that both presidential candidates call for additional troops to be stationed in Iraq. Obviously McCain would be calling for more troops than Obama, in any case it does not look like the conflict in the Middle east will stop any time soon.

 

At the moment the United States has confirmed that it is avoid a conflict with Russia, even though President Bush called for Russia to back down.

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Breaking Bohan
Maybe Russia thinks they're doing the right thing, even if it looks bad over here due to terrible reporting (CNN).  Check out what Putin said: 

In a meeting with refugees, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin characterized Georgia's actions as "complete genocide," according to his office's Web site. Putin also said Georgia had effectively lost the right to rule the breakaway province � an indication Moscow could be preparing to fulfill South Ossetians' wish to be absorbed into Russia.

 

The risk of the conflict setting off a wider war also increased Saturday when Russian-supported separatists in another breakaway region, Abkhazia, also targeted Georgian troops by launching air and artillery strikes to drive them out.

------

I guess we have no idea if this is really true or not, but maybe some more insight will be available soon.  After all doesn't Bush trust Putin?  And if its good enough for him it should be good enough for us proles, no?

 

Edit:  stopping genocide is a good reason to use military force, generally

But then you believe other possibly terrible reporting.. ;/

Well, who can say, it certainly is possible, but one should not be too quick to lock their thinking into one position in a dogmatic manner before all the facts are out. I was disgusted with CNN because they barely mentioned the conflict in 2 days of coverage - it was wall-2-wall Edwards' sex scandal.

 

It frankly appears that both sides didn't put a whole lot of thought into what they were doing ... unless the Russians do intend just to take the country over and annex the land (if that is so ... well then they're doing a fairly good job)

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Hart

 

Agent17: So is USA just going to stay in Iraq? When are they pulling out, cause arent the planning to?

Not from what I have heard, although I have not been able to fully track the situation in Iraq the last I have heard is that there are only plans in place to remove certain forces in Iraq, there is no plan in place to abandon Iraq at this time from what I have heard. Also, it should be worth noting that both presidential candidates call for additional troops to be stationed in Iraq. Obviously McCain would be calling for more troops than Obama, in any case it does not look like the conflict in the Middle east will stop any time soon.

 

At the moment the United States has confirmed that it is avoid a conflict with Russia, even though President Bush called for Russia to back down.

Wait, just found it, this is from "lets discuss the news" topic further down:

 

 

Also, Iraq and US trying to pound out an agreement to get all foreign troops the hell out of there by 2010 (which would be good, IMHO).

 

Starting in 2010, they hope to have the last soldiers leave by 2013.

 

Could be a good idea, as they're not really acheiving anything there at the moment.

 

On topic: @Breaking Bohan: Its because quite a lot of the public (for some reason) like hearing about sex scandels than serious news. icon13.gif

 

Going to bed, hopefully i'll be able to read some good posts tomorrow icon14.gif

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Barciur

Link

 

 

BERLIN - The number two at the German foreign ministry on Saturday said Georgia is breaking international law by launching military action to reclaim South Ossetia.

 

Gernot Erler said Tbilisi had breached a 1992 ceasefire agreement struck with Russia over the renegade Caucasus enclave, monitored essentially by Russian peacekeepers.

 

"In this sense, it is also a question of a violation of international law as soon as you start to go down the road of military action," Erler told German radio station NDR Info.

 

Erler acknowledged prior provocation of the Georgian leadership from Russian-backed South Ossetia's separatists, but said he understood Russia's reaction.

 

While South Ossetia remains sovereign Georgian territory, Russia has taken over the role of providing economic support to the region, Erler noted.

 

From a Russian perspective, peacekeeping troops have therefore been attacked.

 

"It's an insane, bloody war which will surely do nothing to resolve the problem of this separatist Ossetian province," added Erler, deputy to Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

 

Several more members of their Social Democratic party, as well as the opposition Greens, have adopted a critical attitude towards Tbilisi, in contrast to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

 

Merkel is due to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, not far from the border with Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, on Friday.

 

Georgia declared a "state of war" on Saturday as Russia bombed the country and their armies battled for control of the separatist region of South Ossetia.

 

Alongside another former Soviet republic, Ukraine, Georgia was prevented from obtaining candidate status for NATO membership at an alliance summit earlier this year.

Edited by Barciur

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agent17
Agent17: So is USA just going to stay in Iraq? When are they pulling out, cause arent the planning to?

Not from what I have heard, although I have not been able to fully track the situation in Iraq the last I have heard is that there are only plans in place to remove certain forces in Iraq, there is no plan in place to abandon Iraq at this time from what I have heard. Also, it should be worth noting that both presidential candidates call for additional troops to be stationed in Iraq. Obviously McCain would be calling for more troops than Obama, in any case it does not look like the conflict in the Middle east will stop any time soon.

 

At the moment the United States has confirmed that it is avoid a conflict with Russia, even though President Bush called for Russia to back down.

Wait, just found it, this is from "lets discuss the news" topic further down:

 

 

Also, Iraq and US trying to pound out an agreement to get all foreign troops the hell out of there by 2010 (which would be good, IMHO).

 

Starting in 2010, they hope to have the last soldiers leave by 2013.

 

Could be a good idea, as they're not really acheiving anything there at the moment.

 

On topic: @Breaking Bohan: Its because quite a lot of the public (for some reason) like hearing about sex scandels than serious news. icon13.gif

 

Going to bed, hopefully i'll be able to read some good posts tomorrow icon14.gif

Yeah, unfortunately the United States always wants to prove itself as a super power and doe not want to back out of a conflict unless they win for sign a peace declaration, otherwise it would make the United States look inferior, and weak.

 

On the topic of the news today, all I saw was the bullsh*t involving the sex scandals, and the death of Bernie Mac. Although some people could consider them pressing issues. It hardly compares to a potential major conflict.

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D- Ice
Everyone keeps mentioning the threat of an 'All-out War'. I don't understand that, aren't they already in an all-out war? What else do you call soldiers fighting, tanks and military jets bombing places? And hows all-out war supposed to be different from that?

Thanks.

They're not using the full extent of their forces yet.

And there is no other involvement - if NATO gets in with their forces, that's what probably could be called "all-out-war".

Thanks Hart and Barciur. Sounds pretty strange neither side is using their full military force - even after all the bombings and fighting - Georgia even pulling it's 2,000 troops from Iraq.

 

I really hope no other side gets involved militarily, as that's just putting more gasoline on the fire. Also with NATO having more than enough trouble in both Iraq and Afganistan, I highly doubt anyone would be dumb enough to join right into a war against one powerful regular army or another.

 

From here, both sides seem to be equally matched, so that must be good because no (relatively well) developed countries have ever engaged in direct regular warefare since WW2. Hopefully it wont last too long, and no chance of WW3. tounge.gif

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Breaking Bohan

Seriously, there is only one outcome if these figures from BBC are correct:

GEORGIA

Total personnel: 26,900

Main battle tanks (T-72): 82

Armoured personnel carriers: 139

Combat aircraft (Su-25): Seven

Heavy artillery pieces (including Grad rocket launchers): 95

RUSSIA

Total personnel: 641,000

Main battle tanks (various): 6,717

Armoured personnel carriers: 6,388

Combat aircraft (various): 1,206

Heavy artillery pieces (various): 7,550

Source: Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments

 

 

----

The Russians may just want to feel tough and push some people around, blow some shat up and wave their vodka-sopped members in the faces of the world. It's a good thing Bush and Putin are such close friends, or we could be next!

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agent17
Seriously, there is only one outcome if these figures from BBC are correct:

GEORGIA

Total personnel: 26,900

Main battle tanks (T-72): 82

Armoured personnel carriers: 139

Combat aircraft (Su-25): Seven

Heavy artillery pieces (including Grad rocket launchers): 95

RUSSIA

Total personnel: 641,000

Main battle tanks (various): 6,717

Armoured personnel carriers: 6,388

Combat aircraft (various): 1,206

Heavy artillery pieces (various): 7,550

Source: Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments

 

 

----

The Russians may just want to feel tough and push some people around, blow some shat up and wave their vodka-sopped members in the faces of the world. It's a good thing Bush and Putin are such close friends, or we could be next!

Those statistics are probably accurate, I have seen similar earlier.

 

Obviously Georgia won't stand stand a chance in a Full-scale war, which is why Georgia is asking for Western help.

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K^2

 

Even if Russia wins it will still be a defeat. They're picking on a smaller country and that's all anyone will ever see.

Which is why Russia would very much like it if United States gets involved. Russian aviation and anti-aircraft V.S. the same from America. Just like the "good old times" in the Korea. In the end, both sides will suffer great losses, and both will declare a complete victory over ruins of what once was another country.

 

Neither country will be able to truly win. United States cannot run a full operation in such a remote location. They will not risk an aircraft carrier in Black Sea, so they'll have limited air support from Turkish bases. They will also have limited ground troops and tanks. Russia will not be able to use advantage of numbers because of older equipment. Su25 cannot fight against an F22, but then again, the F22 cannot approach Russian anti-aircraft systems that use passive radar and remain even more undetectable than F22 itself. Russian forces will eventually be kicked out of South Ossetia by US tanks, but not before Georgian military pretty much ceases to exist, being forced to leave South Ossetia alone. Not that there will be a lot left there either.

 

So it will all go back to pre-war status, except for Georgia being very badly screwed. Which is all that Russia needed in the first place. So they'll claim they won. United States will have shown technical superiority, and having driven Russians out of Georgia, they'll claim they won.

 

So yeah, if US wants to send in their forces, they'll be more than welcomed there.

 

Edit: On the plus side, maybe US will drive Georgian cars another 50 years from now.

Edited by K^2

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Breaking Bohan
Even if Russia wins it will still be a defeat. They're picking on a smaller country and that's all anyone will ever see.

Which is why Russia would very much like it if United States gets involved. Russian aviation and anti-aircraft V.S. the same from America. Just like the "good old times" in the Korea. In the end, both sides will suffer great losses, and both will declare a complete victory over ruins of what once was another country.

 

Neither country will be able to truly win. United States cannot run a full operation in such a remote location. They will not risk an aircraft carrier in Black Sea, so they'll have limited air support from Turkish bases. They will also have limited ground troops and tanks. Russia will not be able to use advantage of numbers because of older equipment. Su25 cannot fight against an F22, but then again, the F22 cannot approach Russian anti-aircraft systems that use passive radar and remain even more undetectable than F22 itself. Russian forces will eventually be kicked out of South Ossetia by US tanks, but not before Georgian military pretty much ceases to exist, being forced to leave South Ossetia alone. Not that there will be a lot left there either.

 

So it will all go back to pre-war status, except for Georgia being very badly screwed. Which is all that Russia needed in the first place. So they'll claim they won. United States will have shown technical superiority, and having driven Russians out of Georgia, they'll claim they won.

 

So yeah, if US wants to send in their forces, they'll be more than welcomed there.

 

Edit: On the plus side, maybe US will drive Georgian cars another 50 years from now.

Why would we want their cars?

 

I really don't understand that; however, the rest of your analysis makes sense! smile.gif

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D- Ice

 

Seriously, there is only one outcome if these figures from BBC are correct:

GEORGIA

Total personnel: 26,900

Main battle tanks (T-72): 82

Armoured personnel carriers: 139

Combat aircraft (Su-25): Seven

Heavy artillery pieces (including Grad rocket launchers): 95

RUSSIA

Total personnel: 641,000

Main battle tanks (various): 6,717

Armoured personnel carriers: 6,388

Combat aircraft (various): 1,206

Heavy artillery pieces (various): 7,550

Source: Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments

 

 

----

The Russians may just want to feel tough and push some people around, blow some shat up and wave their vodka-sopped members in the faces of the world.  It's a good thing Bush and Putin are such close friends, or we could be next!

Please man, I'm loosing more respect for you and your cause everytime you post. What the f*ck is with all your racist sh*t against Russian?

 

They are just soldiers, and they get their orders like all others from corrupt and incompetent politicians. They aren't doing it because they like it, so stop implying all Russian soldiers are barabaric, evil scum, because they are no worse than Georgian soldiers or any other people world-wide.

 

I know I am sounding harsh, and like I'm provoking a flame-war, but I just had enough of this bigotry. Every post you posted, even before this section was moved, was spewing racist hate-mongering.

You know, if anything, your insulting and derogitory comments are doing nothing but making the extremist Russian claim that "Georgia is a Nazi state" seem more believable.

 

So please man, try and calm down and not direct your anger at everyone. I understand it must be difficult especially if you have relatives there, and that's why I never posted this until now, but just try and control your anger. I know this is rich coming from me, lol, but I'm certain you'll get more support if you do it.

 

Take care man, and all my hopes and prayers with everyone caught up in this fight.

 

@K^2: That is a very sceptical view my friend, and it is all the more alarming coming from a well-informed and well-read person like you, because it just makes it all the more feasible. I really hope nothing like that happens, and they'll sort it out much sooner rather than later, for the sake of everyone involved in the war.

Edited by D- Ice

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Breaking Bohan

Well, this sounds like an official "land grab":

BBC:

Mr Putin said Georgia was committing "complete genocide".

 

He said the territorial integrity of Georgia had "suffered a fatal blow", suggesting that it was unlikely that South Ossetia would re-integrate with the rest of Georgia after the conflict.

 

He said the conflict had created at least 34,000 refugees.

 

This figure wildly conflicts with that cited by the UN refugee agency, which it says is based on information supplied by both sides.

 

The UN estimates that about 2,400 people have fled South Ossetia to other parts of Georgia while between 4,000 and 5,000 have crossed the border into Russia.

 

Redrawing the map

 

---------

 

@DICE: Dude, read the sentence, I said "may": that indicates that it MAY or MAY NOT be the case - I don't know. We all want what's best for everyone --- so lets just chill.

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K^2

 

@K^2: That is a very sceptical view my friend, and it is all the more alarming coming from a well-informed and well-read person like you, because it just makes it all the more feasible. I really hope nothing like that happens, and they'll sort it out much sooner rather than later, for the sake of everyone involved in the war.

Look on the bright side. There is a pretty good chance That US doesn't get involved at all. In which case, everything ends up working out almost the same, but with fewer losses of life. Georgia suffers less destruction, and South Ossetia might be annexed to Russian Federation. Most likely, forming a single Ossetia, rather than North and South as it is now.

 

United States will be viewed as letting the allies down, though. Which will somewhat weaken US authority in Europe. But I'm not sure it is worth the trouble for US.

 

I know South Ossetia voted to be completely independent, but they seem to like the idea of being part of Russian Federation a lot better than being part of Georgia, so maybe it won't be so bad for everybody. Especially if you consider that Russian Federation already contains a few autonomous regions that are very loosely tied to the federal government. Then again, I'm not sure Russians will want to annex them completely anyways. They might simply want to make a friendly independent state out of it. This will already put enough pressure on Georgia, probably will result in change of power in Georgia, and the odds of Georgia becoming part of NATO any time soon will go to nill. That seems to be the main "real" reason that Russia got involved.

 

Note that all this seems to be pretty standard for any situation where a powerful country attacks a weaker one. There are three primary reasons they get involved.

 

1) Liberation of the people. This one is waved around as a principal goal, but is really just to get public support.

2) Immediate financial benefits. Like oil, for example.

3) Long term benefits from show of power, exercise of the military, etc.

 

Note that all three of these were present both here and with US involvement in Iraq. Without having all three, it will not be worth the trouble for the country. What's interesting is that even though "liberation" is usually a B.S. PR reason, some good comes out of it occasionally.

 

Georgia will not be able to hold on to South Ossetia. Yeah, it's their territory officially, but it hasn't been under their control for over a decade, and there is no way it will be any time within the next few decades. If Georgia is allowed to keep trying to take control, which is really just their leaders of going through the motions on "delivering" on promises of unified Georgia, all it will result in is more and more deaths. So while Russian true motives for this war are questionable, if this will result in official separation of South Ossetia from Georgia, I will view it as one good thing that came out of this war.

 

Well, this sounds like an official "land grab":

I'm still not so sure about it. I know Russia really wants Georgia to lose South Ossetia. So it is a land grab in that sense. But I really am not sure that they want it for themselves. Pretty much everyone but the current Georgian administration benefit from South Ossetia gaining independence. But yeah, there is a chance that Russia will try to annex the territory. We'll see.

 

Why would we want their cars?

I drive a Korean car. It is cheap and fairly reliable. Pretty much every country where United States have had serious military involvement starts making good cars eventually. First German cars, then Japanese, now Korean. They slowly go from really cheap to really reliable, and people keep buying them for one of these reasons. I'm waiting for dirt cheap Vietnamese cars to flood the market any time now, with Iraqi cars in a couple of decades, and maybe Georgian cars later yet, if US gets involved.

 

I hope you noticed that I'm not entirely serious about this bit. But the trend is there.

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Breaking Bohan
@K^2: That is a very sceptical view my friend, and it is all the more alarming coming from a well-informed and well-read person like you, because it just makes it all the more feasible. I really hope nothing like that happens, and they'll sort it out much sooner rather than later, for the sake of everyone involved in the war.

Look on the bright side. There is a pretty good chance That US doesn't get involved at all. In which case, everything ends up working out almost the same, but with fewer losses of life. Georgia suffers less destruction, and South Ossetia might be annexed to Russian Federation. Most likely, forming a single Ossetia, rather than North and South as it is now.

 

United States will be viewed as letting the allies down, though. Which will somewhat weaken US authority in Europe. But I'm not sure it is worth the trouble for US.

 

I know South Ossetia voted to be completely independent, but they seem to like the idea of being part of Russian Federation a lot better than being part of Georgia, so maybe it won't be so bad for everybody. Especially if you consider that Russian Federation already contains a few autonomous regions that are very loosely tied to the federal government. Then again, I'm not sure Russians will want to annex them completely anyways. They might simply want to make a friendly independent state out of it. This will already put enough pressure on Georgia, probably will result in change of power in Georgia, and the odds of Georgia becoming part of NATO any time soon will go to nill. That seems to be the main "real" reason that Russia got involved.

 

Note that all this seems to be pretty standard for any situation where a powerful country attacks a weaker one. There are three primary reasons they get involved.

 

1) Liberation of the people. This one is waved around as a principal goal, but is really just to get public support.

2) Immediate financial benefits. Like oil, for example.

3) Long term benefits from show of power, exercise of the military, etc.

 

Note that all three of these were present both here and with US involvement in Iraq. Without having all three, it will not be worth the trouble for the country. What's interesting is that even though "liberation" is usually a B.S. PR reason, some good comes out of it occasionally.

 

Georgia will not be able to hold on to South Ossetia. Yeah, it's their territory officially, but it hasn't been under their control for over a decade, and there is no way it will be any time within the next few decades. If Georgia is allowed to keep trying to take control, which is really just their leaders of going through the motions on "delivering" on promises of unified Georgia, all it will result in is more and more deaths. So while Russian true motives for this war are questionable, if this will result in official separation of South Ossetia from Georgia, I will view it as one good thing that came out of this war.

 

Well, this sounds like an official "land grab":

I'm still not so sure about it. I know Russia really wants Georgia to lose South Ossetia. So it is a land grab in that sense. But I really am not sure that they want it for themselves. Pretty much everyone but the current Georgian administration benefit from South Ossetia gaining independence. But yeah, there is a chance that Russia will try to annex the territory. We'll see.

 

Why would we want their cars?

I drive a Korean car. It is cheap and fairly reliable. Pretty much every country where United States have had serious military involvement starts making good cars eventually. First German cars, then Japanese, now Korean. They slowly go from really cheap to really reliable, and people keep buying them for one of these reasons. I'm waiting for dirt cheap Vietnamese cars to flood the market any time now, with Iraqi cars in a couple of decades, and maybe Georgian cars later yet, if US gets involved.

 

I hope you noticed that I'm not entirely serious about this bit. But the trend is there.

Nice point on the cars - and I could use a new car. I think your spot on about US involvement in this conflict as the situation currently stands; lately however, the US seems to really excel at letting people down at home and abroad. I think Bush is still at the Olympics - while Putin is flew to the conflict earlier today. The White House appears to be far away from pushing the panic button here - although depending on how brutal things get, it is not impossible to imagine the conflict could spread. We shall have to see how events unfold.

 

I can see Russia providing "protection" for S.O. and thereby taking it under its control. Whether Russia allows them full independence at some later date is more uncertain.

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K^2
I can see Russia providing "protection" for S.O. and thereby taking it under its control. Whether Russia allows them full independence at some later date is more uncertain.

Right. I just think it will be better for South Ossetia either way. Better than status quo, anyways, and most certainly better than if the global public lets Georgia think that they can do whatever they want with the region and get away with it.

 

A bit off topic, but:

 

The Weather Channel is not very helpful when I just want to see the area radar ... why should it take 20 minutes to see if there is going to be rain in Ohio?

Because it is Ohio. The only way to know if its going to rain in 20 minutes is to wait 20 minutes. And if you don't like that it rains, you just have to wait another 20 minutes. I live in Kent, by the way.

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TFatseas

I'm bringing this up again.

 

 

Number 1) Russia claims they want South Ossetia to be independent.

 

Number 2) Georgia claims they support full autonomy for South Ossetia, but they don't believe for a second that Russia won't really control it.

 

This is a textbook example of where good diplomacy should be able to create a new UN observer / international Peacekeeper mission to separate the two parties - Russia and Georgia, while allowing South Ossetia true autonomy. Russia shouldn't be able to argue against this - since they claim that is the only reason their troops have been there, anyway.

 

If Russia does not support such a concept, it will be made painfully clear to the world what they are really after. The world needs to call their bluff.

 

 

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Breaking Bohan

 

I can see Russia providing "protection" for S.O. and thereby taking it under its control.  Whether Russia allows them full independence at some later date is more uncertain.

Right. I just think it will be better for South Ossetia either way. Better than status quo, anyways, and most certainly better than if the global public lets Georgia think that they can do whatever they want with the region and get away with it.

 

A bit off topic, but:

 

The Weather Channel is not very helpful when I just want to see the area radar ... why should it take 20 minutes to see if there is going to be rain in Ohio?

Because it is Ohio. The only way to know if its going to rain in 20 minutes is to wait 20 minutes. And if you don't like that it rains, you just have to wait another 20 minutes. I live in Kent, by the way.

Rock on - I went to school near there ... the Weather Channel neglects us.

 

On topic: that is certainly an optimistic view to take ... yet it may prove to be right on the mark. Its difficult to discern what will be the best for anyone in the long run ... but we'll wait and see!

 

Edit: @Tfatseas: well they think they can do it, i assume, because nobody is going to stop them and they obviously have the capability to do so. Do they have legal justification to do so? That is less clear ... and from what I've seen so far, their rationale seems a bit thin.

Edited by Breaking Bohan

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TFatseas

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The war that Russia wants

Svante Cornell

 

For months, Moscow's successive provocations in Georgia have left observers suspecting that it was provoking a war in the Caucasus. It seems to have finally gotten what it wanted. The Kremlin's blatant aggression puts at stake not only the future of the most progressive state in the former Soviet Union, but the broader cause of European security.

 

In recent years, the Kremlin had escalated its interference in Georgia's territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia - bombing Georgian territory twice last year, illegally extending Russian citizenship to residents there, and appointing Russian security officers to their self-declared governments. South Ossetia's government in particular is practically under Moscow's direct control, with little if any ability to act independently.

 

But this flare-up is a direct consequence of Russia's deliberate and recent efforts to engage its small neighbor in military conflict. In April, Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a decree effectively beginning to treat Abkhazia and South Ossetia as parts of the Russian Federation. This land grab was a particularly galling move because Russia is in charge of both the peacekeeping operations in the conflict zones, and the negotiations over their political resolution. The mediator had now clearly become a direct party to the conflict.

 

Moscow then sent paratroopers, heavy weapons and other troops into Abkhazia. Although these measures constituted military occupation of Georgian territory, Georgia failed to respond militarily. Instead, with European aspirations in mind, Georgian leaders listened to western calls for restraint, and put their faith in half-hearted western diplomatic initiatives.

 

Having failed to provoke Georgia to a war in Abkhazia, the Kremlin then tried in South Ossetia. Its proxies, the Ossetian separatist forces, escalated their attacks on Georgian posts and villages, making a response inevitable. Predictably, Moscow claimed a right to intervene, pouring Russian tanks into the area and bombing Georgian territory - including the country's capital. But why would Russia seek a war in the Caucasus, and why does it matter?

 

Georgia's position astride the western access route to the Caspian sea's energy reserves and Central Asia give it geopolitical significance. Moreover, Georgia represents exactly what Moscow does not want to see on its borders: a country both independent and increasingly democratic. Moscow instead seeks submission, preferably by authoritarian rulers that it can manipulate.

 

Yet the decisive factor was Georgia's efforts to gain Nato membership, a move in tune with the country's progress in consolidating democratic rule. Angela Merkel's statement that a country with unresolved conflicts can't enter Nato helped, too: it sent Russia a signal that it could prevent Georgia's Nato membership simply by stirring conflict.

 

Moscow's military adventure has far-reaching implications. To leaders in Ukraine and the Baltic states, it sends signals that it seeks to re-establish control in the former Soviet space. Probably correctly, leaders there assume they are next in line. More deeply, Russia's land grab threatens to return parts of Europe to the politics of territorial control of previous generations, negating the promise of integration and cooperation that the EU represents.

 

Russia's behaviour is incompatible with its aspirations to be a respected world power. Indeed, thoughtful people will find parallels between this and earlier incidents of Russian land seizures when it thought people were looking elsewhere. – the Baltic crisis of 1939, Finland, and post-second world war Iran come to mind. With most western leaders at the Olympics or on holiday, Moscow's efforts to establish a fait accompli in the Caucasus cannot be allowed to stand.

 

So far, the West's reaction has been inadequate. Rather than standing up for their own principles, western leaders think they can improve Russia's behaviour by appeasement, fearful of threatening relations with an undeniably powerful Russia. But by doing so, western leaders have unwittingly encouraged the most irresponsible elements in Moscow, whetting the hardliners' imperial appetites by not attaching any costs to their excesses. That in turn inexorably leads to a worsening of Russia's relations with the West.

 

Paradoxically, standing up to Moscow is not only the right thing to do in this crisis, but the best way to improve relations with Russia in the long term. For only a Russia that abandons its imperial agenda and respects its neighbors, irrespective of size, can be a true partner for the west.

 

It is now important for western leaders to realise that their silence so far has only encouraged Moscow's aggressive behaviour, and that they must now stand in solidarity with Georgia – in deeds, not only in words. Whether they do so will determine the future not only of the Caucasus, but also for Europe's security.

 

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Georgia: The return of Cold War diplomacy

 

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 10/08/2008

 

Have your say      Read comments

 

Russia's ruthless attack on Georgia is a dramatic and depressing reminder of the willingness of the Soviet Union (and, before it, imperial Russia) to pursue its foreign policy across the borders of sovereign nations.

 

It is true that Georgia - unlike, say Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 - walked into a trap.

 

What did it imagine would be Moscow's response to its own assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of the Russian-supported breakaway province of South Ossetia? Did the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, not realise that he was providing his enemy with an excuse not just to invade the rebel province but also to launch air strikes on central Georgia?

 

 

Yet the excuse is not a valid one. Russia's behaviour is indefensible.

 

Moscow's concern for the human rights of South Ossetia's ethnic Russians counts for little compared to its determination to increase its global prestige.

 

The problem with Georgia, seen in this context, is not that it encompasses a Russian enclave: it is that Georgia controls the oil and gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey that offers Europe a degree of independence from Russian energy blackmail.

 

No one was surprised to hear claims yesterday that Russian jets tried to bomb that pipeline.

 

The Kremlin is paranoid about the energy resources on which so much of its power depends: witness its acquiescence in the seizure of control of BP's Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, which Russian oligarchs pulled off with impunity (although not without undermining Russia's stock market and its ability to win future foreign investment). Therefore it is paranoid about a fully independent Georgia.

 

 

As yesterday's air and artillery strikes on Gori reminded us, we should not underestimate the sheer jumpiness of Russian nationalists. They cannot forget for a moment that the border with Nato has moved several countries closer in the past few years.

 

Countries that enjoy membership of the Western alliance - by virtue of meeting its democratic criteria - enjoy a high degree of protection from old-style Russian imperial power games. Georgia does not enjoy that security: this year, Nato turned down Mr Saakashvili's request for provisional membership, and now (as President Bush warned his fellow leaders) Moscow has taken advantage of that rebuff.

 

How can the current crisis be resolved?

 

Mr Bush was obviously right to call for an immediate end to Russian bombings, and to emphasise the territorial integrity of Georgia: it might seem an obvious point to make but, irrespective of its ethnic makeup, South Ossetia is not part of Russia.

 

Dragging Moscow to the negotiating table will be a tremendous test of American and European diplomacy, and one with very significant implications for the future.

 

This is in some respects a test case. Should Russia continue down the path it seems to have chosen - of threatening its neighbours' sovereignty, manipulating energy supplies and misappropriating the assets of foreign companies - then the West must be willing to react with a degree of acerbity, cunning and self-confidence that it has not manifested since the nerve-racking decade that preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

Russia may have seized the headlines from China, with whom it shares some features of a nationalist ideology. But, unlike its eastern neighbour, it is not a manufacturing superpower - in fact, the very idea is laughable.

 

The Russian resurgence is built on natural resources and sustained by a military machine that can reduce Georgian towns to ruins but is dwarfed by those of Nato.

 

Its fears of encirclement by pro-Western countries are perfectly understandable: a Nato that incorporates democratic and responsible regimes in Ukraine and Georgia would be in a position to contain Moscow's ancient but tiresome and anachronistic imperial ambitions for the foreseeable future.

 

The first thing Nato should do is provide a clear and unified call for an immediate ceasefire.

 

It should also increase its rhetorical support for Russia's other neighbours - who must be feeling very anxious - and show willingness to threaten diplomatic actions that would weaken Russian prestige, such as reviewing its membership of the G8.

 

The project to admit Ukraine and Georgia to Nato should be revived rather than abandoned: Mr Saakashvilli may have led his country into an unwinnable war, but the events of recent days prove just how important it is that Georgia re-establishes its credentials as a stable, pro-Western power that can be trusted to look after an oil pipeline.

 

The situation in South Ossetia is complex, but the lesson we should derive from it is simple.

 

If an infantile Russia wants to revert to Cold War diplomacy, then fine: the West is up to the challenge.

Edited by TFatseas

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Barciur

 

  Russian jets have bombed a military airfield close to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, a Georgian official said.

 

Alexander Lomaia, of Georgia's national security council, said the attack was designed to "damage the runway".

 

Tbilisi said Russia had brought 6,000 troops into Georgia by land and 4,000 by sea in preparation for a dawn raid.

 

Earlier, Russian PM Vladimir Putin accused Georgia of genocide against the South Ossetian people, as fighting in the breakaway region intensified.

 

He said Georgia was seeking "bloody adventures" and defended Moscow's military action to intervene directly.

 

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili has called for an immediate ceasefire to stop what he described as an "annihilation" of his country's democracy.

 

In the absence of independent verification, there are conflicting figures about the casualties suffered on both sides but the numbers appeared to rise sharply on Saturday.

 

Based on Russian and South Ossetian estimates, the death toll on the South Ossetian side was at least 1,400. According to Moscow, all but a few of the dead were civilians.

 

Georgian casualty figures sustained during the three days of fighting ranged from 82 dead, including 37 civilians, to a figure of around 130 dead.

 

'A fatal blow'

 

Mr Putin flew to the Russian city of Vladikavkaz, close to the border with South Ossetia, where he met those who had fled the violence.

 

Mr Putin said Georgia was committing "complete genocide".

 

He said the territorial integrity of Georgia had "suffered a fatal blow", suggesting that it was unlikely that South Ossetia would re-integrate with the rest of Georgia after the conflict.

 

He said the conflict had created at least 34,000 refugees.

 

This figure wildly conflicts with that cited by the UN refugee agency, which it says is based on information supplied by both sides.

 

The UN estimates that about 2,400 people have fled South Ossetia to other parts of Georgia while between 4,000 and 5,000 have crossed the border into Russia.

 

Redrawing the map

 

As the bloodshed continues, a joint delegation of the US, EU and the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe is heading to Georgia in the hope of brokering a truce.

 

It comes as a third emergency session of the UN Security Council ended without an agreement on the wording of a statement calling for a ceasefire.

 

 

 

But emissaries from the US and Europe who are Nato members may not be seen as honest brokers by the Kremlin when it comes to Georgia, BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says.

 

The danger now is that Russia will not only use this crisis to demonstrate its military power in the region, but argue it is time to redraw the map, she adds.

 

Moscow has said there can be no "consultations" with Georgia unless Georgian forces withdraw to the positions they held outside South Ossetia before Thursday.

 

Meanwhile Russian jets have bombed several towns, including the central Georgian city of Gori, where Georgian troops had been massing to support forces engaged in South Ossetia.

 

Georgian TV has also shown pictures of damage to the Black Sea port of Poti, the site of a major oil shipment facility, after a reported Russian air strike.

 

President Saakashvili told the BBC on Saturday that Moscow wanted to take control of energy routes to Europe and accused it of "war crimes" against civilians.

 

His parliament has approved a presidential decree declaring that the country is in a state of war for 15 days.

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gta_player5

The West and its allies have simply stated that they will not condone the actions of the Russians and this has not affected the Russian government at all. If the U.S. and its allies were to threaten Russia with military involvement (god forbid, at this point) what do you think are the chances that the Russian military would fall back in the face of the most powerful coalition in the world today?

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Barciur

The only country I think could really beat Russia alone would be Isreal...

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K^2
The only country I think could really beat Russia alone would be Isreal...

United States and China are the only ones who could do it reliably. There are a hand full of countries that would have a chance. Israel isn't one of them.

 

Number 2) Georgia claims they support full autonomy for South Ossetia, but they don't believe for a second that Russia won't really control it.

Which is why Georgia bombed the hell out of their capitol city??? Right...

 

Separatists fight Georgia because Georgia does not give them autonomity. Georgia keeps sending troops in, and they keep fighting the separatists. This has been going on and off for a decade. And suddenly, Georgia just wants to let them be autonomous? Wake up! I mean, I know Russia is bending truths left and right, but Georgian government is downright lying right now.

 

I agree, though, that what this really needs is a UN peace keeper force in South Ossetia that will make sure that neither Georgia nor Russia tries anything funny in the region. But this cannot happen until South Ossetia gets recognized as a sovereign state, which is what all this really about. United States wants Georgian support, so they and the rest of NATO aren't doing jack to help the situation.

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TFatseas

 

Which is why Georgia bombed the hell out of their capitol city??? Right...

 

Thats retribution.

 

 

Can you show where the Georgians are lying? Only the Russians look like they're lying.

 

 

Edited by TFatseas

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Barciur
The only country I think could really beat Russia alone would be Isreal...

United States and China are the only ones who could do it reliably.

I don't think US or China could do it alone... in a coalition yes but not alone..

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K^2
Which is why Georgia bombed the hell out of their capitol city??? Right...

 

Thats retribution.

 

 

Can you show where the Georgians are lying? Only the Russians look like they're lying.

Again, if bombing a city with Grad is your idea of retribution, then invading a country for hundreds dead of your citizens is perfectly fine as retribution as well.

 

Georgians claim they have done nothing, and Russia just went and invaded them. It is, in fact, a lie, since Georgia knew perfectly well that they were bombing a city full of Russian citizens. It is not the only thing they have lied about. They have lied about casualties (claiming only a few dozen dead in initial bombing, when in fact they have killed over a thousand people) claiming that they have shot down 5 Russian planes (that was before they shot down the second one) claiming they have not carried out an act of aggression against Russia when they have shelled Russian peace keepers with targeted fire (that was before Russia moved its troops in). So yeah, lies all around.

 

In fact, just listen to any statement made by President of Georgia or their Minister of International Affairs, and then compare these statements with objective facts given by any competent reporting agency. You'll see that it isn't just twisting of facts or an error. You'll see that they are intentionally lying to make it seem like they are a poor innocent country that got assaulted by big bad Russia, and that UN and US should go in and save them. (That's what they actually say, yes.)

 

Russians just twist the facts about. Yeah, the news papers in Russia lie as well, but at least you won't see the President or Prime Minister simply lie into the camera. They do use half-truths and some stretching of facts, of course, but this is to be expected in such situation.

 

Now, do you need direct sources, or can you look them up yourself? Don't be lazy. There is plenty of footage of Georgian President lying to the camera all over the net.

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TFatseas

See heres another problem, I believe that the Russians giving the Ossetians full citizenship is illegal.

 

On what basis can the Russians give citizenship of people in another country, Georgia? Not to mention they have NEVER been a part of the Russian Federation. They are not even ethnic Russians.

 

I can't even find a reason in Russia's own legislation.

Here

 

 

Georgia knew perfectly well that they were bombing a city full of Russian citizens.

 

They were provoked, Russian backed Rebels provoked them. South Ossetia's government is practically under Moscow's direct control.

 

 

They have lied about casualties (claiming only a few dozen dead in initial bombing,

 

Really? I read a thousand dead already by the morning of the eighth.

 

 

claiming that they have shot down 5 Russian planes (that was before they shot down the second one)

 

Russia only admits to two, do you believe everything they say? Their media has a terrible track records. They are mouthpieces of the FSB.

 

I don't take anything Russia says as truth.

 

 

claiming they have not carried out an act of aggression against Russia when they have shelled Russian peace keepers with targeted fire

 

What right did those 'peacekeepers' have to be in Georgian territory? Territory even Russia recognized until two days ago. It's rather obvious that Russia wants both South Ossetia and Georgia.

 

Georgia has been trying to talk to the separatists for a peaceful negotiation. But recently the separatists have stopped all talks and stepped up attacks.

 

And you can't do targeted fire with BM-21's.

 

 

objective facts given by any competent reporting agency.

 

That's subjective.

 

 

they are a poor innocent country that got assaulted by big bad Russia

 

They are, Russia has no place in Georgian internal affairs, so called 'Russian citizens' or not. Nor should Russia in a 'peacekeeping' role be bombing civilian targets inside Georgia.

 

 

UN and US should go in and save them. (That's what they actually say, yes.)

 

I know, and we should.

 

 

Yeah, the news papers in Russia lie as well, but at least you won't see the President or Prime Minister simply lie into the camera.

 

Thats hilarious.

Edited by TFatseas

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