South Ossetia

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.

Saakashvili: IIFFMCG report a diplomatic victory for Georgia

From Civil Georgia:

“When in 1921 Russia attacked us and occupied us no international commission was set up then. When they imposed a civil war on us in 1992 and 1993 here no international commission was set up. When acts of sabotage were carried out in 2004, no international commission was set up. We achieved, first of all, setting up an international commission even on their conditions, as they composed the commission with the experts, which were acceptable for them, who had already blamed Georgia in advance. We closed eyes on it and agreed because we believed that they were Europeans and they would not lie.

They said even more truth than I could ever imagine. It is a great diplomatic victory for Georgia.

Some may say what is a conclusion – they say that Georgia did not observe everything and violated something. But it does not matter, because these are conclusions – this commission should have ascertained the facts, which would have been written in history.

Hundreds of thousands of our citizens were expelled from Abkhazia in 1992, and the European Union or more serious organizations have never said that it was ethnic cleansing. Now it is written [in the report] that there was ethnic cleansing.

We had no illusion that Europe – which is preparing for a cold winter and which needs Russian gas – would have said that ‘yes Russia carried out ethnic cleansing, it committed war crimes and Vladimir Putin is to be blamed for it’ – what would have happened in that case? Would they have arrested Putin when he had arrived in Brussels? I think that nobody had such illusion.”

Chavez dictatorship recognizes Abkhazia, S. Ossetia

http://en.rian.ru/world/20090910/156084433.html

From civil.ge:

The Georgian Foreign Ministry condemned the decision by Venezuelan “dictator” Hugo Chavez to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “an extremely unfriendly” move and said it hoped Venezuela would retract its decision after a “democratically elected” government comes into power in that country.

A few hours after Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, made announcement about the recognition at a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on September 10, the Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement which said that “such violation of norms and principles of international law will be counter-productive for Venezuela itself.”

The Foreign Ministry said Tbilisi was sure that the Venezuelan leader made such a decision in exchange for Moscow’s pledge to give Venezuela “hundreds of millions in credit and a great amount of armaments.”

“It is regrettable that Russia’s irresponsible authorities are wasting taxes paid by the population of the Russian Federation, which lives on the verge of poverty, on satisfying ephemeral foreign policy whims,” the statement reads.

More "piracy"

The practice of accusing foreign states of “piracy” that is currently so popular among leaders of the Russian Federation seems to have acquired a new adherent. Via Civil Georgia:

Sokhumi will resort to “proportional measures” to protect vessels en route to Abkhazia if Tbilisi continues their detention, Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said in his appeal to UN, EU and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on August 18.

Georgian coast guard detained a Turkish cargo vessel carrying fuel to the breakaway region’s capital Sokhumi on August 17. The Georgian law on occupied territories bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Tbilisi’s authorization.

Sergey Bagapsh write in his appeal that the detention of the Turkish cargo vessel was “third case of Georgia’s piracy” this year.

Tbilisi, Tskhinvali Accuse Each Other of Opening Fire [civil.ge]

Tbilisi, Tskhinvali Accuse Each Other of Opening Fire

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Aug.’09 / 12:27

Georgian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that two grenades were fired in direction of its police post close to the South Ossetian administrative border late on August 3.

One out of two grenades apparently fire from a hand-held grenade-launcher exploded in an immediate proximity to the police post located in the village of Plavismani at 9:30pm local time on August 3, the Georgian Interior Ministry said. No injuries were reported.

The authorities in breakaway South Ossetia reported late last night that three mortar rounds were fired from the Georgian village of Plavismani in direction of the village of Ortev on the South Ossetian side of the administrative border at 10:05pm local time on August 3. These villages are located in the south-east from the breakaway region’s capital, Tskhinvali.

Related
EU Calls for Restraint over S.Ossetia
EUMM Says No Evidence of Firing towards S.Ossetia
Russia Warns Georgia against ‘Provocations’
Tbilisi Denies S.Ossetia Reports on Shooting
EUMM Calls for Restraint Ahead of War Anniversary

Saakashvili: There will be no war

The following is a translation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s televised address of July 9 2009:   

Of course we have been watching this meeting in Moscow closely, because we know how high the price of this geopolitical situation is for Georgia, for Georgia’s future, for the security of our citizens and for their welfare.

I think that at last everyone now understands what we have been saying – that Russia had been preparing for last year’s war for a long time. Unfortunately Putin’s government, which was ready to attack Georgia, received some very mistaken messages from the West and from our traditional partners.

Much of what happened did so simply because many people did not believe that this attack would take place. It is a fact that the refusal by some of our partners to grant Georgia a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at last year’s Bucharest summit had very grave consequences; I think that they [Russia] drew ambiguous conclusions from the Sochi U.S.-Russia summit – that was not the intention of the U.S. side, and we are very well aware of that, but the conclusion they [Russia] drew was ambiguous. Their [Russia’s] provocation did not receive an adequate response from the West – and that was another factor which played a part in encouraging Putin to carry out the attack [on Georgia].

The attack, you will recall, was followed by a very strong reaction from the European Union and especially from the United States – although it came with several days of delay; and for several days we prevailed, thanks to the heroic resistance of our armed forces; the figures are now available – the enemy’s ground forces were twelve, fourteen times larger, plus 200 aircraft; in fact, we confronted an adversary which as hundred times stronger than us, and our armed forces allowed us to prevail for several days.

After that, the United States became involved, and this prevented the realization of Russia’s main goals – the collapse of the Georgian state, a move into the Georgian capital and the destruction of the Georgian army.

You will be aware that throughout this period Putin did not conceal his disappointment and loudly stated that there was “unfinished business” to attend to, claiming that he had yet to finish the job of taking complete control of Georgia, which in turn meant control of the Caspian region and the restoration of the Soviet Union; and on the other hand he wanted to completely destroy the Georgian armed forces, as the Russians view it as a serious challenge to them.

In this situation, of course, there was some risk – and frankly speaking a serious risk – of a military attack by Russia on Georgia and on the Georgian capital. But I think that the first serious signal sent by our partners was in the UN Security Council, when for the first time since 1993 Russia used its right of veto in respect of a regional conflict, which meant that Russia acted in complete isolation.

Russia failed to pass a resolution on an issue which was very important for Moscow. It failed to trade this issue for some other issues – the practice to which it has usually resorted in the past, including unfortunately in respect of Georgia as well.

Unlike last February, and unlike at the Bucharest summit, Russia has now received a serious signal in New York [at the UN Security Council] – and here I want to mention the good work of our mission at the UN. But we would have sent that signal alone, even without the very strong position that were taken by France and Germany, which were unusual, and without the very uncompromising position of the Americans, which was agreed with us.

Everyone was waiting for the [U.S. President’s] meeting with Medvedev in Moscow. Russia was ready to pay a high political price, to make deals on issues like disarmament, Afghanistan and Iran in exchange for Georgia. They were ready to engage in the classical kind of trading they adopted in the past, and to trade for control of Georgia other issues on which they were prepared to cooperate with the U.S. and its new administration.

If they had managed to succeed in that, or had received an ambiguous message [from the United States], there would have been a repeat of 1921 [when the Bolshevik Red Army occupied Georgia]. We should be under no illusion that that if we declare neutrality, Russia will calm down and give up its plan of controlling the Caspian, the regions of Central Asia and the energy transportation routes. It is not a question of what kind of relations Russia has with Saakashvili or with anyone else. When a country has imperial ambitious, it is a question of strategy.

Our new strategic partner, the United States, has responded to their [Russia’s] attempts to make a trade-off on Georgia with a firm “no”. There has been no trade-off. Georgia has not been sold.

Russia has failed to destabilize Georgia – attempts were made in this regard beginning in February and March this year, and especially of course in April [when a group of opposition parties launched street protests to demand Saakashvili’s resignation]./ It is an internal Georgian political problem, but [Russia] has been involved, and this involvement has included serious funding. But they have failed with this plan.

If this destabilization plan had been successful, it would have been very difficult to secure the support of our partners, because it is very difficult to support a country that is destroying itself and showing suicidal tendencies.

But the plan has failed. Hence today on the one hand we had this failed plan for the internal destabilization of Georgia and on the other hand the hope of a trade-off over Georgia – and this threat has now disappeared.

So today I can say it very boldly: all the fears and expectations connected with the threat have not been realized and all the hopes of revenge and the carrying out of a new military confrontation on the part of our aggressive neighbour, which of course wants to take over Tbilisi, have not been realized.

In Moscow they are very well aware that if the Georgian state survives and Georgia remains a partner of the democratic world, there is not even a one percent chance that Russia will be able to keep our occupied territories – this is the 21st century, when no one recognizes occupation.

Obama stated it clearly: firm support for Georgia’s territorial integrity; firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty over its entire territory, and the establishment of policy in this direction…

…As a result of last year’s aggression, Russia has received an enormous global foreign policy problem; our problem, which was of local [significance] and was not in fact of the first importance, has now become a primary concern of global politics.

So in fact at the expense of the tragedy of our villages [a reference to those areas of breakaway South Ossetia which were under control of the Georgian authorities before the August war], at the expense of the people who died [in the war] – of course those several dozen of villages are a serious loss for us, as they are temporarily occupied; at the expense of these small territorial gains – and for Russia it was a small territorial gain – Russia has received a serious international problem; Georgia will come out of all this even stronger than before.

And today I want to say boldly that all their aggressive plans for the near future have been foiled, and the war they have been planning and dreaming of will be no more.

Red lines in Georgia

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking on China Central TV:

However needless to say that we are ready to and will discuss with our partners all the issues related to the whole security situation in the Caucasus, the issues of both humanitarian and economic nature, being prepared to do this in any venues. The only thing is that we have some kind of “red lines”. One of them I already mentioned- this is our decision to grant recognition. And the second one is our attitude to the present Georgian regime. It is our view that this political regime committed a crime and we shall have nothing in common with it. At the same time after elections that sooner or later will be held in Georgia we surely will be ready to resume deliberations on different issues if the Georgian people elect a new leadership capable of maintaining a friendly dialogue with Russia and with close neighbors of the Georgian state – peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Kavkaz-2009

Russia’s defence ministry has announced that the Kavkaz-2009 military exercises will be held in the North Caucasus from June 29 until July 6. The exercises will involve more than 8,500 personnel, up to 200 battle tanks, 450 armoured vehicles and some 250 artillery systems of various types, the independent Georgian news and information service Civil.ge reports.