War Breaks Out – Russia v. Georgia

Posted on August 10, 2008 at 1:18 AM by DanNY

War has broken out between Russia and the former soviet socialist state of Georgia.

The Georgian Parliament has declared a State of War to exist in the country following Russian attacks on Georgian military bases, airfields and a port on the Black Sea.

The issue is whether Georgia has control of the state of South Ossetia which is recognized internationally as Georgian territory.
A separatist movement has sprung up among the russian population of South Ossetia in recent years and the United Nations allowed Russia to send in ‘peace-keepers’ to monitor the situation.

The immediate stimulus for the onset of hostilities was the artillery fire which has been raining down on Georgian troops over the past week. The Georgian military mounted an operation to silence the fire and re exert control over the territory. Russia claims that six Russian peacekeepers were killed by the Georgian military in this assault.

Russia immediately responded with airstrikes against Georgian military and economic assets while immediately moving armored vehicles and combat troops across the border. The Russian Black Sea fleet is deploying off the coast of Georgia.

Russia’s president and premier vowed retaliation for what they called “the Georgian aggression” and punishment for those who kill Russian nationals in South Ossetia. President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would “not allow the death of our compatriots to go unpunished.” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on a visit to Beijing, lambasted the Georgian leadership for what he described as “very aggressive actions” that he said killed several Russian peacekeepers.

President George W. Bush called on all sides in the South Ossetian conflict to end hostilities. In his first statement since violence erupted, The US President has said there must be a return to the status-quo. The president said the US is working with its European allies to launch international mediation. He added that his administration was working with all sides in the conflict to restart dialogue.

US Senator John McCain issued a statement on his campaign website regarding the current conflict between Georgia and Russia: “Today, news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. … We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation. Finally, the international community needs to establish a truly independent and neutral peacekeeping force in South Ossetia.”

Senator Barack Obama said in a written statement issued by his campaign “I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.” The statement concluded that “all sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia.”

Russian sources claim the death toll in South Ossetia has reached 2,000 and that the capital of South Ossetia, Tskinvali, is in ruins. Russian air strikes have spread to Abkhazia, another disputed region of Georgia.

Georgia said it had shot down a total of 10 Russian combat aircraft, while Russia says it had lost two planes. Russian Deputy Air Force Commander Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn stated at a news conference on 09 August 2008 that Russian peacekeepers had lost contact with an Su-25 Frogfoot close-support aircraft and a Tu-22 Blinder bomber, and that the fate of the pilots was unknown.

Some photos of the fighting are here.

The UN Security Council remains deadlocked in its attempts to call a cease fire in Georgia. Belgian UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, the council’s president this month, told reporters that several council members expressed “grave concern on the further deterioration of the situation in Georgia.” “It is clear that the conflict has now expanded in other areas than only South Ossetia,” he said. When asked about the council’s attempt to call for a cease-fire, Grauls said it would be nearly impossible for the council to take any actions at the moment. “Regrettably I have come to the conclusion that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to find common ground within the council on a draft statement to the press,” Grauls said.

After Saturday’s consultations, Alejandro Wolff, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, urged Russia to stop its military offensive, withdraw its troops from Georgia and accept international mediation efforts. “The first thing that has to happen is that violence has got to stop and that foreign forces will have to be withdrawn,” Wolff told reporters. But “Russia somehow thinks it is exempt from all the calls to cease violence, from all the calls to withdraw,” Wolff said.

Poland has called for an emergency European Union summit over South Ossetia.
French President Sarkozy has demanded an immediate cease fire.

Georgia has been a staunch ally of the United States in the War in Iraq and has a combat brigade of 2,000 men present in-country making it the third largest coalition ally. The outbreak of the war has forced the Georgian government to recall those troops to aid in the defense of their homeland.
Half of Georgia’s 2,000 troops in Iraq plan to leave the country by Monday to join the fight against separatists in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, with the rest following as soon as possible, their commander said. “First of all we need to remove 1,000 guys from here within 96 hours, after that the rest of the guys,” Colonel Bondo Maisuradze said. “The US will provide us with the transportation,” he added.

The US military said the sudden departure of the soldiers would impact operations in the short-term. The Georgian contingent has been taking part in an operation with US and Iraqi forces to clear the south-eastern corner of Diyala province, north of Baghdad, a known al-Qaeda stronghold. In addition, one battalion is helping to support the Iraqi security forces in Wasit province, south of the capital, near the Iranian border. Asked about the impact on operations, the US military said: “The unplanned redeployment of Georgian forces will have some impact in the near term, however, as with any change in force structure, we will make adjustments to ensure sustainment of coalition operations.” It continued in a statement: “We do not anticipate their departure will result in a significant long-term impact on the overall security situation in Iraq.”

Colonel Maisuradze said that his men were anxious to get home after seeing images on television of the unrest in South Ossetia as Russian forces support separatist militias under assault from Georgian troops. “They want to go home as soon as possible and help,” he said, noting that the experience that Georgian troops have gained of fighting an insurgency in Iraq would benefit them as they tackle the problems in their own country. “We have the same situation in our home as here, though the territory is different, we have no desert,” Colonel Maisuradze said.

Georgia is strategically important as the only independent nation which controls pipelines across its territory carrying oil and gas to Europe from the Caspian Sea area. All other pipelines are controlled by Russia. Control of Georgia would give Russia the ability to cut off that flow at will.


  1. 1 The Truth About Russia in Georgia « Gathering of Eagles: NY

    […] https://nygoe.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/war-breaks-out-russia-v-georgia/ […]

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