Vladimir Kvachkov, the ex-colonel of Russian military intelligence who in June 2008 was finally acquitted of the attempted murder of the Russian politician and businessman Anatoly Chubais, has commented on the performance of Russian forces during the recent Georgia war. Kvachkov is critical of Russian military planning and strategy during the conflict. He believes that the war was essentially a test set by the United States to monitor the fighting capability of Russia’s armed forces. He compares it to the Battle of Khalkhyn Gol during the undeclared Soviet-Japanese Border War of 1939, and believes that while this conflict also appeared to be a military victory, it ended in a similarly negative outcome for Russia. Kvachkov says that for a number of technical reasons, the Georgian army proved to be superior to the Russian one. In particular, the Georgian SU-25s. modernized by the Israeli company Elbit, were able to fly at night, and the Russian air force was unable to put up effective counter-action. The Georgian forces were thus able to inflict heavy casualties on Russian armoured columns, and this superiority continued into the third day of the war. Kvachkov considers that the fatal mistake that Russia made was not to carry the conflict through to the end – if an attack on Tbilisi had been launched, Saakashvili could have been deposed and a new president – probably Igor Giorgadze – installed in his place. In fact, Kvachkov says, the order for such a mission was actually given, but was not followed through because of “a lack of political will”. He says he thinks that Russia made the same mistake as the Americans in the Desert Storm operation. He believes that because it needs these facilities for the campaign against Iran, the US will quickly help Georgia to repair its bombed airfields and bases, which were not that heavily damaged in any case, as Russian air action was not particularly effective. And so pressure will once again mount on Russia – via Georgia – with the main pressure points being Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.