Russian_invasion_of_Georgia

Putin: invasion of Georgia was pre-planned

According to a Russian Army General, former First Deputy Defence Minister and Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky, a decision to invade Georgia was made in May 2008, several months before the events of August that year. Baluyevsky makes the claim in a 47-minute documentary that has been released on YouTube, part of which can be watched here.

According to Pavel Felgenhauer

Putin’s press service immediately confirmed the “Lost Day” as a genuine documentary. After a meeting with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, in the Kremlin, Putin confirmed to journalists the accuracy of some of the “Lost Day” allegations. According to Putin, the plan to invade Georgia was prepared in advance and “the Russian side acted within the framework of that plan.” The General Staff of the Armed Forces prepared the plan of military action against Georgia “at the end of 2006, and I authorized it in 2007,” continued Putin. 

EU ‘Concerned’ over S-300 Missiles in Abkhazia

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Aug.’10 / 18:30

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she was "concerned" about Russia’s announcement that it had deployed S-300 air-defense system in Abkhazia "without the consent of the government of Georgia."

"The deployment of such a weapon system in Abkhazia would be in contradiction with the six-point ceasefire agreement as well as implementing measures [agreement signed on September 8, 2008] and would risk further increasing tensions in the region," she said in a statement on August 13.

"I call on Russia to fully implement all its obligations under the ceasefire agreement. The EU reiterates its firm support for the security and stability of Georgia, based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, recognised by international law."

Russia has had S-300s in Abkhazia for 2 years

Via civil.ge:

Russia’s announcement about deploying sophisticated air-defense system, S-300, in breakaway Abkhazia might not be a new development, as Russia has maintained such systems there since 2008, August war, U.S. Department of State said.

"It’s our understanding that Russia has had S-300 missiles in Abkhazia for the past two years." State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said at a news briefing in Washington on August 11.

"We can’t confirm whether they [Russia] have added to those systems or not. We will look into that. This by itself is not necessarily a new development. That system has been in place for some time," he added.

Reuters reported quoting unnamed Pentagon official that the U.S. could not yet confirm the deployment of new missiles and was seeking further information.

"But the absence of transparency and international monitoring in Abkhazia makes this difficult," the official said.

Hammarberg in the Caucasus

Jamestown Eurasia Blog’s Giorgi Kvelashvili writes about the four Georgian schoolboys who were kidnapped by Russian occupation forces in Georgia’s Tskhinvali region on November 4, and are still being held in custody:

On November 27, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg arrived in Tbilisi and his meetings with various Georgian officials as well as those with the authorities in Tskhinvali will continue until December 4.

Georgian parliamentarians both from the ruling party and the opposition had severely criticized him for not doing enough for the release of the kidnapped schoolboys in particular and not issuing a special statement for almost one month after their kidnapping.

Both Georgia and Russia are members of the Council of Europe and despite the fact that this organization has already several times acknowledged that the Russian Federation is in breach of the August 2008 Russo-Georgian ceasefire agreement, mediated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, little, if any, action has been taken to punish Russia for violating Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The first attempt by Hammarberg to enter Tskhinvali on November 29 failed after he was stopped on the “border” by Russian forces and, according to the Georgian media, several shots were fired from the city.

The next day Hammarberg was more fortunate and managed to hold talks in Tskhinvali, but nonetheless came back to Tbilisi empty-handed. 

For more on Hammarberg’s apparent difficulty in tackling Russian and Moscow-backed authorities in the Caucasus, this time in Chechnya, see Prague Watchdog.

Russia "testing reactions"

Georgia’s President Saakashvili has pointed to the irony of the presence of Russia’s President Medvedev at the recent anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall:

“What does it mean – welcoming the Russian President in Berlin as if he were a big democrat to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, while Erich Honecker [the last leader of German Democratic Republic] was not doing even one tenth of what [Russia] is doing now; Honecker was eventually apprehended by the Europeans… And now they [the Europeans] have him [Medvedev] sitting smiling next to them; it won’t work – shaking one hand with them [Europeans] and capturing children with the other.”

By “capturing children”, Saakashvili was referring to the recent detention of four Georgian teenagers by South Ossetian forces. Saakashvili appealed to leaders of the countries of the EU to react more decisively to Russia’s provocative actions:

“The Russians are testing the reactions of others, what others will do in response to Russia’s provocations. What happens next will depend on cases like this.”

Vanhanen: Finland needs "deeper ties" with Russia

Via Bloomberg (October 9):

The conclusion in Finland was that we have to deepen our relations to Russia and that we have to try in all ways to bind Russia better and better to Europe,” [Finland’s Prime Minister] Vanhanen said today in an interview at his office in Helsinki. “So, more cooperation with Russia; that was the conclusion we made after the Georgia war.”

Hat tip: Mari-Ann Kelam

Murder mystery

In the Moscow Times, Yulia Latynina discusses a murder with no killer:

Imagine Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot gathering the relatives of a murder victim together to reveal the identity of the killer and saying, “You know, all of you are such complex people, and you’ve all committed so many misdeeds, that the person simply died as a result of your collective wrongdoing.” If a murder has been committed, there must be a killer.

How can a commission come to the unbelievable conclusion that a person was murdered as a result of collective responsibility? Here is how:

According to the report, Georgia claimed that it gave notice of a large-scale concentration of Russian forces on Georgian territory prior to Aug. 7, when the five-day war began. Russia denies Georgia’s allegation, and the Kremlin asserts that Russian forces entered South Ossetia well after Georgia started military operations in the breakaway republic.

Who is correct? It might strike you as funny, but the commission doesn’t know. It couldn’t confirm that Georgia’s assertions “are well-founded,” despite the significant number of “witnesses, including Russian” witnesses who confirmed it.

Calling a spade a spade

Svante E. Cornell, writing in the WSJ about “what would be necessary for a spade to be called a spade” in the IIFFMCG report on the 2008 August war:

…the report is far more devastating in its dismissal of Russia’s justification for its invasion—in fact surprisingly so for an EU product. As will be recalled, Russia variously claimed it was protecting its citizens; engaging in a humanitarian intervention; responding to a Georgian “genocide” of Ossetians; or responding to an attack on its peacekeepers. The EU report finds that because Russia’s distribution of passports to Abkhazians and Ossetians in the years prior to the war was illegal, its rationale of rescuing its “citizens” is invalid as they were not legally Russian. It also concludes that Moscow’s claim of humanitarian intervention cannot be recognized “at all,” in particular given the Kremlin’s past opposition to the entire concept of humanitarian intervention.

The list goes on. The report finds Russian allegations of genocide founded in neither law nor evidence. In other words, they’re not true. And whereas the report does acknowledge a Russian right to protect its peacekeepers, it finds that Moscow’s response “cannot be regarded as even remotely commensurate with the threat to Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.” On the other hand, it faults Russia for failing to intervene against the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia and Abkhazia that took place during and after the war. Finally, it castigates Russia’s recognition of the independence of the two breakaway territories as illegal, and as a dangerous erosion of the principles of international law.

Read it all.