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Russia Invades South Ossetia, Georgia Shoots Down Russian Planes

Russian tanks have moved into the disputed Caucasus region of South Ossetia, dramatically escalating already high tensions with Georgia.

n this picture made off APTN video footage, Georgian multiple rocket launchers are seen at a position south of Tskhinvali, Friday morning, Aug. 8, 2008. The capital of Georgia\'s separatist region of South Ossetia came under heavy fire early Friday, just hours after Georgia\'s president declared a unilateral cease-fire. (AP Photo/APTN) Russian television reports that Russian troops are moving into South Ossetia.

The development comes hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Georgia that its attack on South Ossetia will draw retaliation.

Channel 1 television showed a convoy of Russian tanks that it said entered South Ossetia. The convoy was expected to reach the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, in a few hours.

This is still a holdover from the breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s and has de facto sovereignty over large parts of its territory. While neither Georgia nor the international community recognizes the secession as legitimate, Russia has been sympathetic.

Tensions came to a head with Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the push to offer Georgia a membership action plan and eventual inclusion into NATO. Russia immediately began throwing its weight around in both South Ossetia and another breakaway province, Abkhazia.  It appears that Russia is now making its play.

Given that NATO all but promised Georgia eventual membership at its Bucharest summit mere months ago, ignoring Russia’s move here is unthinkable.

UPDATE: George claims it has shot down two Russian planes.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry spokesman says that Georgian forces have shot down two Russian combat planes. Shota Utiashvili says the planes were downed while they were raiding Georgian territory, but wouldn’t give their type or any further details.

Russia’s Defense Ministry denied an earlier Georgian report about one Russian plane downed. It had no immediate comment on the latest claim.

Georgia launched a massive attack Friday to regain control of South Ossetia, using heavy artillery, aircraft and armor. Russia’s television reported that a convoy of Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia.

This is getting ugly, fast.

UPDATE: It has.

Georgian troops launched a major military offensive Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, prompting a furious response from Russia — which vowed retaliation and sent a column of tanks into the region.

More than two dozen were reported dead in the worst outbreak of hostilities since the province won defacto independence in a war that ended in 1992. Ten Russian peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded when their barracks were hit in Georgian shelling, said Russian Ground Forces spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov. Russia has soldiers in South Ossetia as peacekeeping forces but Georgia alleges they back the separatists.

The Times of London‘s headline says it all: “Georgia says Russian tanks mean ‘war’ in South Ossetia.”

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.”

The feeling is mutual:

We cannot allow the deaths of our countrymen to go unpunished. The guilty parties will receive the punishment they deserve,” President Medvedev of Russia told a meeting of his security council in the Kremlin. “I am obliged to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, no matter where they are located.”

More as things develop…

UPDATE (Dave Schuler)

The Russian language press is reporting that two Russian tank columns have begun shelling Georgian positions near the town of Tskhinvali.

Update (Dave Schuler)

The online Russian language press is just full of this story. The prevailing take is that Russian forces are hurrying to defend the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, ten or more of whom have been the victims of Georgian aggression.

UPDATE (James Joyner):   CNN is reporting, “The U.S., NATO and European Union have all called for an end to the fighting. U.S. President George Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday discussed the conflict in Georgia, the White House confirmed.”

Meanwhile, Joshua Keating argues, “However this ends, Georgia’s bid to join NATO is now effectively dead. In that sense, Russia has already won and the months of ratcheting up the pressure in the breakaway province seem to have paid off.”  I don’t know whether that’s true; indeed, it could shame recalcitrant European governments into backing Georgia.

One thing’s for sure, though:  While NATO is many things in the post-Cold War environment, it is first and foremost a military alliance committed to the mutual security of its members.  If the U.S. and Western Europe aren’t prepared to use force upon the invasion of Georgia by Russia, then we’ve got no business even considering inviting them to join the Alliance.

UPDATE (James Joyner):  Danger Room’s Nathan Hodge has two interesting essays on the conflict: Ground Zero in the New Caucus Conflict and Did the U.S. Prep Georgia for War with Russia?

The upshot here is that 1) this has been coming to a head for years and recent events have stoked them and 2) military power is fungible.  The U.S. is rightly impressed with the amazing pace of reform Georgia has achieved under President Saakashvili and we have been supplying them with arms and equipment in order to get them up to speed as an ally.

Officially, SSOP was supposed to prepare Georgians for service in Iraq. But Georgian trainees I spoke to in 2006 at the Krtsanisi training range saw things a bit differently. A female sergeant told me: “This training is incredibly important for us, because we want to take back Georgia’s lost territories.”

In fairness, Russia has helped stoked regional tensions, backing separatist governments in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And the Russian media have done a fair job of demonizing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and raising the general level of hysteria (the word “fascism” gets thrown around a lot). Clearly, a Georgia that aspires to NATO membership — and that does not bend to Moscow’s will — irritates the Kremlin to no end.

Quite right.  I think Russia’s wrong on that front; NATO has moved on and countering Russia is simply not its aim these days.  But, given its history, it’s not hard to understand why Russia feels otherwise.

FINAL UPDATE: More discussion in future posts, including this morning’s Kosovo and South Ossetia.

__________________________

Per John Cole’s request in the comments, more background below the fold.

Also, while this disclaimer is always true and is listed in the About section of the blog, I should especially emphasize on this post, given its controversial subject matter, that views expressed in this post are strictly those of the post authors and do not necessarily convey any endorsement by their employers.


From BBC:

Escalating tensions between Georgia and its breakaway province of South Ossetia have erupted into serious fighting.

The separatist administration in South Ossetia has been trying to gain formal independence since breaking away in a civil war in the 1990s.

Russia has troops in the region, on a peacekeeping mandate. But Moscow also supports the separatists.

What is the status of South Ossetia?

South Ossetia has run its own affairs since fighting for independence from Georgia in 1991-92, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It has declared independence, though this has not been recognised by any other country.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, back under full Georgian control.

Why do Ossetians want to break away?

The Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group originally from the Russian plains just south of the Don river. In the 13th Century, they were pushed southwards by Mongol invasions into the Caucasus mountains, settling along the border with Georgia.

Georgia map

South Ossetians want to join up with their ethnic brethren in North Ossetia, which is an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation.

Ethnic Georgians are a minority in South Ossetia, accounting for less than one-third of the population.

But Georgia rejects even the name of South Ossetia, preferring to call it by the ancient name of Samachablo, or Tskhinvali, after its main city.

What triggered the latest crisis?

Tension has risen since the election of President Saakashvili in 2004. He offered South Ossetia dialogue and autonomy within a single Georgian state – but in 2006 South Ossetians voted in an unofficial referendum to press their demands for complete independence.

In April 2008 Nato said Georgia would be allowed to join the alliance at some point – angering Russia, which opposes eastward expansion of Nato. Weeks later, Russia steps up ties with the separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In July Russia admitted its fighter jets entered Georgian airspace over South Ossetia to “cool hot heads in Tbilisi”. Occasional clashes escalated, until six people were reportedly killed by Georgian shelling. Attempts to reach a ceasefire quickly collapsed.

Could Russia become directly involved in war?

Russia insists it has been acting as a peacekeeper in South Ossetia, rejecting Georgian accusations that it has been supplying arms to the separatists.

However, it has vowed to defend its citizens in South Ossetia – of which there are many. More than half of South Ossetia’s 70,000 citizens are said to have taken up Moscow’s offer of a Russian passport.

Russia may view limited military intervention as less risky than recognising South Ossetia’s independence, which could lead to all-out war with Georgia.

What about Georgia’s links to Nato?

President Saakashvili has made membership of Nato one of his main goals. Georgia has a close relationship with the United States and has been cultivating its ties with Western Europe.

There are those who believe that Mr Saakashvili may be hoping to draw Nato into a conflict with Moscow, making their alliance a formal one.

But analysts say it is difficult to perceive Nato allowing itself to be drawn into a direct conflict with its Cold War rival, when it managed to avoid that for so long.

Reuters offers some scenarios:

* Georgia, whose army and reservists total around 18,000 soldiers, swiftly completes its assault on breakaway South Ossetia before Russia can mobilise a major military response.

A Georgian victory could spark an exodus of non-Georgians to Russia. The majority of the breakaway region’s roughly 70,000 population feel close to Russia and are ethnically distinct from Georgians.

Should Georgian troops quickly establish control over the territory it could prove more difficult for the Russians, diplomatically, to seize back control of the province by sending in its own forces.

* Failure by Georgia to quickly establish full control over South Ossetia could allow Russia, which has a peacekeeping mandate in the region, time to launch a counter-offensive, arguing that it needs to protect its own peacekeeping forces as well as civilians, most of whom have Russian passports.

Georgian officials say Russian armour is already pouring into the region from across the border. Hundreds of volunteers from Russia and another Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, were reported to be making their way to South Ossetia.

* If Georgian troops fail to retake South Ossetia, Tbilisi could be vulnerable to political and diplomatic pressure from the United States and Europe to halt its offensive. The European Union is wary of antagonising Russia, one of its main sources of energy. Some European members of NATO, also wary of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s record in clamping down on opponents, have resisted moves to put Georgia on a fast track to membership. Russia fiercely opposes NATO membership for its former Soviet satellite.

* Outright defeat for Georgian forces, with a retreat to pre-conflict positions, would be a humiliation for Saakashvili. He has made it a priority to win back control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another rebel region on the Black Sea. Defeat could also boost his domestic opponents and raise doubts about Georgia’s pro-market reforms and drive to align itself more closely with the West.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. […] better way to note the opening day of the Olympics than with a new war. James Joyner reports that Russi has tanks rolling over the border into the Caucasus region of South Ossetia in Georgia. […]

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  2. Boyd says:

    South what?

    Seriously, though, does this really have to potential to turn into anything beyond a minor tiff between neighbors?

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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    World War I began as a minor act of terrorism by somebody from a small province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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  4. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    This is in Europe’s back yard, which is going to get them involved to some degree. If it escalates even further, the Europeans will be needing help.

    Hmmm… I wonder where they will turn for help?

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  5. Marina says:

    First of all, Georgia attacked South Ossetia, not Russia. Second, all the Georgian equipment is supplied by the US and we have our bases there. Third, there was an agreement for cease fire, but Georgians continued the bombing and the republic of South Ossetia is no more… And it can turn UGLY

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  6. John Cole says:

    Anyone have a link to a good analysis of this situation, devoid of BS and partisan spin?

    Translation- an expert who is not a blogger.

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  7. Anderson says:

    Russia has learned its lesson: invade its neighbors *during* the Olympics, and then you don’t get a boycott.

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  8. Marina says:

    Yea, me. Talked to family out there. South Ossetia has been bombed all night. Russia is holding off on the border.

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  9. William d'Inger says:

    The breakup of the Soviet empire was just a hiccup for Russian imperialism which has been going on for centuries. Russia will eventually rule all that territory again someday. Georgia is just the first step on their road to recovery, and South Ossetia is just a convenient excuse.

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  10. […] again draws parallels with Kosovo and is concerned about the situation, wondering if NATO will have no choice but to intervene. This is still a holdover from the breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia declared its […]

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  11. Russia Invades Georgia, Left Forgot Their “Stop War With Georgia” Banners…

    But, hey, Russia going to war with another country is probably OK. It is only when the US and much of the rest of the civilized war is “keeping all options on the table,” particularly the USA, that there is a problem. Especially when it is …

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  12. Xenos says:

    Is there any precedent for a country to invade another country, not just during the Olympic Games, but during the opening ceremony?

    What sort of nationalistic response is the Kremlin trying to gin up by risking getting its athletes ejected by the IOC?

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  13. Michael says:

    Why doesn’t the newspaper and blog analysis of this outbreak of fighting make mention of the Georgian/Azerbaijani/Israeli attempts to develop an oil pipline from the Caspian Sea to Turkey, bypassing Russia entirely? That would seem to me to lead to military conflict more than “ethnic tensions” or even Georgia’s flirtation with NATO membership.

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  14. Michael says:

    World War I began as a minor act of terrorism by somebody from a small province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    That may have been the match that set Europe ablaze, but the powers involved had been heaping kindling for some time before that.

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  15. […] OTB has done the heavy lifting for those who want to understand what’s going on in the escalating conflict. […]

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  16. […] are going to war. I am just too depressed and ill-informed on the region to even talk about it, but James Joyner has some helpful […]

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  17. Marina says:

    What is frustrating is Xenos assuming Russia invaded South Ossetia. Read news articles outside of this blog and you will learn the opposite is true. It is disgraceful that anyone would attack during Olympics, and Georgian President “Saakashvili agreed the timing was not coincidental” (a quote from Associated Press).

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  18. Beldar says:

    Dr. Joyner wrote,

    If the U.S. and Western Europe aren’t prepared to use force upon the invasion of Georgia by Russia, then we’ve got no business even considering inviting them to join the Alliance.

    I don’t follow your logic. If Georgia had indeed become a member of NATO, then yes, treaty obligations would have bound both the U.S. and the European nations who are in NATO to respond.

    But Georgia isn’t a NATO member, nor has it been promised entry. That’s the precise situation that the Russians (I originally wrote “Soviets” and had to change that) are exploiting. Is NATO, or are its member nations (including the U.S.) even committed, by treaty or otherwise, to the territorial claims of Georgia to include this region?

    The Bear is still a bear, and it’s biting. But as always, it bites when it’s convinced it can get away with it and profit by it. And here, I think Putin has correctly concluded that NATO’s European members won’t do more than fume, and that the U.S. acting alone won’t do more than that, either.

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  19. Michael says:

    Below quotes are all from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080808/ap_on_re_eu/georgia_south_ossetia_29

    Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases Friday

    If Russia thinks air superiority is necessary, this will likely be getting worse.

    South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity claimed hundreds of civilians had been killed.

    This is the largest figure I’ve heard so far, much more than previous reports. Given the source, though, its accuracy is questionable.

    Marina:

    Saakashvili agreed the timing was not coincidental, but accused Russia of being the aggressor. “Most decision makers have gone for the holidays,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Brilliant moment to attack a small country.”

    Saakashvili is suggesting that the timing was chosen by the Russians, not himself.

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  20. Wayne says:

    “but the powers involved had been heaping kindling for some time before that.”

    True but it is not like the U.S. Russia and China relations have been that chummy. Russia has had an issue with us getting close to e Georgians for some time. We haven’t exactly made friends with the Chinese with all the bashing we been doing to them lately. Not that we shouldn’t condemn other countries action but there are proper techniques to do so without seeming petty. Also the MSM have put out the expression that our military is now weak and more importantly our will is weak. The first part isn’t true but I not sure on the second part.

    When you go around trying to make everyone your ally, you run a great risk of getting drawn into a bad situation. Not saying we shouldn’t have made overtures to Georgia. Hopefully this situation won’t blowup.

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  21. James Joyner says:

    But Georgia isn’t a NATO member, nor has it been promised entry.

    The declarations at the Belgrade summit in April stated that Georgia would one day be a member of NATO but demurred on offering a membership action plan as President Bush and others wanted. This was entirely because of European fears of Russian reaction.

    Is NATO, or are its member nations (including the U.S.) even committed, by treaty or otherwise, to the territorial claims of Georgia to include this region?

    We recognize Georgia as a sovereign member of the United Nations and South Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of that state. We declared ourselves committed to defending territorial integrity from foreign invasion with the 1991 Gulf War.

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  22. […] is fast-moving and rapidly escalating. (Russia Today has a good timeline going. James Joyner has a good roundup at OTB, too.) From the AP, Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases […]

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  23. […] James Joyner writes: If the U.S. and Western Europe aren’t prepared to use force upon the invasion of Georgia by […]

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  24. Beldar says:

    Dr. Joyner, it seems as though history is repeating itself, then, at least in the premises:

    On January 12, 1950, United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave a speech declaring that America’s Pacific defense perimeter was made up of the Aleutians, Ryukyu, Japan, and the Philippines, implying that America might not fight over Korea. Acheson said Korea’s defense would be the responsibility of the United Nations.

    The Soviets went along with their North Korean client state in interpreting that as a signal that America wouldn’t fight to repel an overrun of South Korea by the North.

    And of course there’s always been an argument that U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie similarly “invited” Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait by saying that the U.S. had “no opinion” on the subject of Iraq’s border dispute with Kuwait. As with Acheson’s comments, Saddam may have been hearing what he wanted to hear, and certainly both North Korea and Iraq misjudged America’s will and its ability to lead broad coalitions to resist those invasions.

    But I don’t think Russia and Putin have misread the European NATO members’ intentions or, more precisely, their lack of resolution, at all. Whether it’s turning off natural gas pipelines or the more old-school method of sending a column of armor, the Russians are going to continue to intimidate and dominate their border (former client) states.

    I literally cannot imagine either NATO or the UN acting effectively to stop Russian military intervention now. Nor can I see the U.S. doing anything other than rhetoric (at least in the short term). It’s Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Afghanistan redux. Do you disagree, as a matter of realpolitik?

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  25. Xenos says:

    Marina-

    I am aware there are two sides to the South Ossetia issue. Still, there is an international border that is being crossed by Russian tanks. Even if Georgia is an aggressor, it is not tempting sanction by the IOC.

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  26. Michael says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080808/wl_nm/georgia_ossetia_dc_39

    Russian armored vehicles have entered the northern edges of the capital of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, the separatists’ press service reported on its website on Friday.

    No confirmation from Georgia, so apply salt as desired.

    A South Ossetia minister said more than a thousand people had died in overnight shelling by Georgian forces of their capital Tskhinvali, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

    Another order of magnitude increase in casualty reports. Again, no way to verify, truth being the first casualty of war and all that.

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  27. Tom says:

    Dr. Joyner,

    Correction – you mean we are committed to defending territorial integrity when it fits current ideas about our strategic interests.

    Territorial integrity was seen as a myth to be blithely ignored in our interventions in Kosovo and Iraq.

    This is all the natural result of the decision to recognize Kosovar independence. Why must the Ossetians submit to the Georgian yoke (let’s remember Stalin was not a Russian, but a Georgian, after all), while the Kosovars are given sovereignty?

    I am struck by all the Western headlines. Not “Georgia attacks South Ossetia,” but “Russia invades Georgia,” as if the Russians were the ones who had kicked off this new round of aggression.

    It is disturbing, but not surprising. It is just another example of the systematic Cold War reflexes which continue to rule the press and the polity, distorting the truth in pursuit of perceived national interest.

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  28. Michael says:

    I am struck by all the Western headlines. Not “Georgia attacks South Ossetia,” but “Russia invades Georgia,” as if the Russians were the ones who had kicked off this new round of aggression.

    Nobody recognized South Osettia’s independence from Georgia, so saying “Georgia attacks South Ossetia” would be like saying “Canada attacks Quebec”, which doesn’t make much sense.

    However, if the United States send a column of tanks across the border to support Quebec separatists, then the headline of “US invades Canada” would be accurate.

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  29. Dave Schuler says:

    South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity claimed hundreds of civilians had been killed.

    The Russian language press is quoting Kokoity as saying that 1,600 people have been killed.

    BTW, not even the Russian Federation recognizes the sovereignty of South Ossetia although I wonder if that’s about to change. The Russian coverage of this story is certainly treating South Ossetia as though it were a country separate from Georgia.

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  30. Tom says:

    To Michael

    “Georgia attacks South Ossetia” makes just as much sense as “Serbia attacks Kosovo” would have, at least 2 years ago.

    I daresay that if the Spanish embarked upon such an adventure in the Basque territory, it would also be labeled by many quite correctly as an “attack”.

    When one takes off the military-strategic allegiance blinders, the phrase makes perfect sense.

    It is only when one chooses selective enforcement of sovereignty rules that one’s mind becomes so enfeebled that the phrase becomes unintelligible.

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  31. James Joyner says:

    I literally cannot imagine either NATO or the UN acting effectively to stop Russian military intervention now. . . . Do you disagree, as a matter of realpolitik?

    No.

    I can imagine us pushing for some sort of sanctions against Russia, although even that’s doubtful. Which really calls into question the Bush administration’s strong insistence that we bring Georgia into NATO. If we’re not going to consider an attack against them as an attack against us, then we have no business inviting them into NATO.

    you mean we are committed to defending territorial integrity when it fits current ideas about our strategic interests.

    Territorial integrity was seen as a myth to be blithely ignored in our interventions in Kosovo and Iraq.

    I think that’s right as far as it goes. In both cases, though, we at least had ostensible cover in terms of UN Security Council resolutions. Russia doesn’t have that in this case.

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  32. Tom says:

    At least The Moscow Times headline is the neutral “South Ossetian Conflict Escalates”

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  33. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Does Georgia possess any remnants of the Soviet Nuclear arsenal?

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  34. […] note with a jaundiced eye, James reporting on events in the former Soviet state of Georgia. Things seem to be on course to getting very hot indeed over the weekend. But I have some doubts […]

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  35. Tom says:

    Georgia never had any nukes.

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  36. Nikolay says:

    It’s Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Afghanistan redux.

    Well, the difference is, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland (i.e. their citizens) didn’t want USSR to invade them, while Ossetians obviosly side with Russia. I mean, they were de facto independent from Georgia for 16 years — that makes some difference, doesn’t it?

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  37. Imagine, if you would, that a foreign government gave its citizenship to the residents of Long Island, and then claimed the right to protect those citizens from New York State or the United States. That’s the game Russia is playing in South Ossetia.

    Georgia has cycled about 5-10 battalions through Iraq so far, now US trained and combat tested. They’re light infantry and it’s unclear how effective they would be in an anti-armor role. OTOH, the terrain does not favor armor.

    We just finished a regional military exercise in Georgia. It’s possible that the Georgians felt that their troops were as ready as they ever would be.

    The troops being used by Russia appear to be units that were used in Chechnya, where they leveled the country.

    Russia is meddling in Georgia, an in other freed nations such as Moldova and the Baltic states. In every case, the pretext is Russian citizens or Russian speakers in the non-Russian nations. Sudetenland, anyone?

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  38. […] 2 (Fri., 4:48 p.m.): Good info here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Timing is everythingRussian tanks enter South […]

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  39. Marina says:

    Tom – thanks for your comment.
    As far as “Canada attacks Quebec” – I can easily see this headline. And I can see the US crossing the border especially if we had peacekeeping forces in Quebec that were being bombed by Canadian troops armed by Russians… Heck, that would have been a much better excuse than the one we used to invade Iraq.

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  40. Marina says:

    Or, better yet, take Mexico as an example. Not Canada. Looks more and more realistic, this scenario.

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  41. […] to allow civilians to evacuate.Around the blogosphere, Daniel Nexon, Robert Farley, Doug Merril, James Joyner, and Nathan Hodge have all been following this closely. Watch this space for […]

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  42. Russian Citizen says:

    South Ossetia situation was planned and implemented by USA, it is loud and clear. Georgia started this act to involve Russian troops in this conflict right at the time of Olympic games, this is clearly act of rot provocation and attempt of USA to make Russia look like aggressor in Chinese eyes. Don’t trust USA, dont’ trust Georgia. Russian troops are there to stop kills of Russian citizens – there are 90% of russian citizens in South Ossetia. So is Russia and aggressor? NO NO NO, Russia wants to stop bloodshed and keep peace.

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  43. Tom says:

    Chuck –

    You’re blithely ignoring the fact that things were so bad with the Georgians that the Ossetians felt better under the Russians.

    Things are much more complicated down there.

    Equating the USA and Georgian sovereignty on a purely abstract level and making the sovereignty concept absolute is always strived for, but never obtained.

    Maine is not full of Canadian passport holders, and if it were, there would be a reason behind it.

    Did you protest the NATO invasion of Kosovo? Or did NATO have had good reasons for violating Serbian sovereignty? If so, then it certainly seems that Russia has pretty good reasons for violating Georgian sovereignty now:

    The threat to its citizens and even more grave the threat of the ongoing march of the world’s greatest military alliance to encircle it.

    Much better to draw the line in Georgia than if NATO forces Ukraine to disintegrate: that could
    be a real mess!

    George H W Bush promised Gorbachev that NATO would not be expanded if Gorbachev let go of Eastern Europe. The Russians kept their part of the bargain and the Clintons (led by Albright) betrayed them, and Yeltsin in particular, taking advantage of Russian weakness.

    Further NATO expansion will not be the cakewalk that the earlier expansion was.

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  44. Michael says:

    Or, better yet, take Mexico as an example. Not Canada. Looks more and more realistic, this scenario.

    I chose Quebec for a reason. Though Mexico during the Texas war of independence does seem a very close analogy.

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  45. Oleksandr says:

    Hello,

    you might be interested in Georgian and Russian news sources in English and how Eastern European blogs react on the conflict:
    http://demchenko.info/war-in-georgia-south-osetia-news-sources-and-new-media-activism/

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  46. Aleks says:

    “World War I began as a minor act of terrorism by somebody from a small province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.”

    Well, the Austro-Hungarians did insist on on picking up someone else’s territory as their own glorious playground for their empire. I suppose one could say that they shot themselves in the foot…or was it a bomb?

    As for the Georgia thing, NATO and co. pushed Russia as far as they dared and then some more. It is not as if the Russians weren’t going to push back at some point. Has someone per chance miscalculated?

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  47. As per Mr. Joyner’s request, we changed the name of our blog from Blue Girl, Red State to

    They Gave Us A Republic.

    What I think has been missed is this story from the BBC, dated all the way back to the end of May, this year:

    Russia is sending a unit from the army’s railway force to the breakaway province of Abkhazia, the country’s defence ministry has said.
    The 300 unarmed troops are needed to help carry out repairs on the network, said the head of Abkhazia’s railways.

    Those troops were sent to begin laying the groundwork for the movement of Russian heavy military equipment into the region.

    So if they started that process in May, just after the downing of the drone aircraft, how is it that we think this was a spur of the moment reaction to Georgian troops?

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  48. Alex says:

    It is not true. Georgia started war against separatists at night before Olympic Games. They killed 1400 civilians. About 50% of people in South Ossetia has Russian citizenship.
    Russia has now way just to protect people. I was terribly impressed when I read CNN. they lie. Now I think there is NO DEMOCRACY IN THE USA if your main media lie.

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  49. Tom says:

    The Chinese seem to be plenty displeased with the turn of events.

    Making Bush sit squirming for 3 hours right next to Vova Putin with only Laura to protect him must have been an exquisite agony, isolated at the end of the row alone with no one to talk to. Alone on screen for 4 billion to gawk at, and trying desperately to keep up his beloved swagger.

    It was a perfect picture of the situation the US has been reduced to in the world.

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  50. A Bama Blog says:

    War breaks out between Georgia and Russia…

    What timing. Yesterday, I suggested that the U.S. could stand to be a little more cautious in its support for Georgian accession into NATO. Today, we saw a stunning example of why such caution is warranted.

    James Joyner has a link-rich rundown of …..

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  51. cirby says:

    It is not true. Georgia started war against separatists at night before Olympic Games. They killed 1400 civilians.

    Well, according to one source. Not a reliable one, either.

    …and the Russians have been preparing for the invasion for quite a while. They managed to get 150 armored vehicles 100 km into South Ossetia in less than a day. No, this isn’t possible. They’ve been preparing for this for MONTHS.

    And for those of you who think they haven’t invaded yet (talking to you, Marina), we’ve had video of the Russian tanks rolling in to South Ossetia since yesterday, less than 24 hours since the Georgian attack.

    Come back to us when your news sources don’t include ones controlled by Moscow…

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  52. […] Russia Invades South Ossetia, Georgia Shoots Down Russian Planes […]

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  53. From Russia With Love, Pt 2…

    Yesterday started reporting the Russia-Georgian conflict.  Reporting seems very limited coming out of the area though Russian news is all over it, blaming the Georgians for an unprovoked attack on Russian "peacekeepers".  Georgians …

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  54. […] Russia Invades South Ossetia, Georgia Shoots Down Russian Planes This entry was written by BobG in Vancouver and posted on August 9, 2008 at 10:58 am and filed under about death, blogging, photos/images, the news, thinking about politics. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment. « An exceptional collection of photos Beijing 08/08/08 […]

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  55. Russian Citizen says:

    I’m form Russia, I have relatives in Georgia.
    Just saw BBC news. I’m shocked, BBC news reports are all lies. How is that?

    Why are they lying?
    Georgia’s leadership is fascism, they don’t want peace, they killed ossetians back in 90-s and they want to kill them now.
    Stop this lies or God will stop you.

    Why you don’t say that it is Georgian troops who used heavy artillery and attacked South Ossetia on 8th August?

    Why you don’t say that more than 2000 south ossetia civilians are killed as a result.

    Why you don’t say that more than 30 thousands ossetians leaved their homes to save from Georgia’s genocide?.

    Why you don’t say that it’s Georgia’s troops who attacks refugees?

    It’s Russia who tries to save them and keep piece in the region.

    I have relatives in Georgia and I’m not just supporting Russia. I can tell for sure that BBC and CNN news reports are all lies.

    I’m against Georgia’s militarism and fascism. Please stop this lies, please stop this madness.

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  56. Open Mind says:

    The Caucasus region has been in conflict for a very very long time. For decades, boundary issues have been waged between some combination of Georgia, South Ossetia, Russia, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, and Chechnya. These are multiple sub-plots being played out simultaneously. Remember the bombing of the school in Beslan several years ago? That was instigated by the Ingush in North Ossetia and largely was a continuation of their claim for territories they claim belong to them which are currently assigned to North Ossetia which is under the arm of Russia. These are historical clashes of cultures, religions, and territorial boundaries. This territory is dangerously close to the middle east. So, yes, this is an extremely complex and dangerous turn of events.

    My relatives are from North Ossetia. South Ossetia is a very poor country that – should they truly desire to break away from Russia – would have a great deal of difficulty financially sustaining and defending itself. It is largely an agrarian-based economy. They certainly have no means of defending themselves from an attack by Georgian troops. The only hope they have for protection is to have the Russian troops come to their defense. Currently, displaced South Ossetians are flooding over the borders into North Ossetia seeking refuge.

    Let us remember that the Bush administration is anxious to get/keep a military toe-hold in Georgia, as it is a strategic access point into the middle east. He is supporting their bid into NATO for his own potential gains or gains he feels are critical however misguided his ideas may or may not be. The US seems to be reluctantly to learn the lesson that you need to be careful who you crawl into bed with as they can be the most dangerous of bed partners in the not-too-distant future.

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  57. Open Mind says:

    I believe the media and others are misinformed as to what the people of South Ossetia are attempting to achieve. They are not wanting to break away from Russia. There intent is to unify with North Ossetia and become part of the Russian Federation. Georgia’s intent is to claim South Ossetian territory as their own.

    See the following article by the BBC:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3797729.stm

    “…(South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoiti) businessman and former communist, holds Russian citizenship.

    He has angered Tbilisi by stating his aim to be the unification of North and South Ossetia within the Russian Federation. He describes Russia as the main guarantor of stability in the Caucasus and has strong ties with the like-minded Abkhaz leadership.

    He has warned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against aggressive Georgian nationalism and insists that the people of South Ossetia do not regard themselves as part of Georgia.”

    See this article by the AP:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i7wB5Uxre-eHOI61jE5CZyRbV5QgD92EHPAG0

    Once again, oil interests intermingle with military aggressions. Let us also not lose sight that the Bush family is an oil family and Putin has significant interests in Gazprom of Russia.

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  58. RequiredName says:

    Geez, we can manipulate hundreds of soldiers to shoot at each other, but we can’t get a couple of parishes to just unite and become one political system (combine north and south) and let them be a small nation?

    Is lack of air conditioning making them loose their minds? Too hot for sex, therefore excess male hormones driving them all nuts? What the hell is Russia worried about, do you think you have to get any closer than Turkey? Can we take the word of the Russians that some should not be trusted with weapons? Sounds like the last thing that needs to be oppressed is the press?

    Get a grip people.

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  59. Michael says:

    Geez, we can manipulate hundreds of soldiers to shoot at each other, but we can’t get a couple of parishes to just unite and become one political system (combine north and south) and let them be a small nation?

    Getting people to stop fighting is infinitely more difficult than getting them to start fighting.

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  60. Marina says:

    “Too hot for sex, therefore excess male hormones driving them all nuts?”

    Actually, it’s economy, stupid. Majority of the population is struggling to make ends meet. Drugs and alcohol are the means of escape. People, especially young people, do not have an escape from the current bleak economic conditions but to drink themselves to death, drive fast cars on the mountain roads or fight for whatever course sounds best at the time. If you have nothing to loose… That’s the story behind most of the violence in the world.

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  61. Mimi says:

    I doubt its the soldiers who have the problems stoping fire. Its the Georgian president who needs to answer for his crimes. Can anyone explain to me why the US is protecting this war criminal whereas it let another be hanged publicly? Please explain to me why presidents of some countries cannot be blamed for their actions but others can.
    And why is a lot of the European and American press talking about Georgian casualties but says nothing about the 2000 who died in South Osetia and those who have suffered shell shock.
    Can someone explain to me how after all this any country who stands by and watches all those people die (Georgian or otherwise) can be calling for peace when they cower in the background?
    I think Russia did the right thing by protecting South Ossetia. My sources claim that this is indeed what happened and that attacks on Georgia only took place on a millitary base levels.

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  62. Michael says:

    And why is a lot of the European and American press talking about Georgian casualties but says nothing about the 2000 who died in South Osetia and those who have suffered shell shock.

    When we talk about Georgian casualties, we are including South Ossetian casualties because, wait for it, South Ossetia is a part of Georgia.

    I think Russia did the right thing by protecting South Ossetia.

    So you say. I can’t help but think you’d have a different opinion if you were on a different side of the invasion.

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  63. Obioma Igwenyere says:

    I think that Russia is trying to play down on the sovereignity of the Republic of Georgia.Every nation stands to enjoy her independence through the exercise of her severeign powers devoid of external entanglements.Please,Putin and Dimitry should withdraw their forces from Georgia.Europeans should guide against sub- imperialism in the East.

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  64. […] know enough to comment intelligently, but for those who are interested, James Joyner has a comprehensive summary of what’s gone on so far and what it means. One thing I’ll say is that it’s stuff […]

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