August 12, 2008
Tbilisi, Georgia–Following pressure from the United States and the European Union, Russia has haulted it’s war efforts but troops remain in this sovereign nation, for how long no one knows.
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of hypocrisy in a tough statement that reflected both the measure of his anger at the West and the U.S. He is upset at America because we invaded Iraq. But there is a vast difference between Russia’s conquests and America’s. We ousted a tyrant and within a short time America will be pulling out our troops without taking anything, including oil revenue, from the Iraqi people. We are an invited guest at this time. Russia is not.
The U.S. has invested billions of dollars in Iraqi infra-structure and security and the money drain from America to Iraq continues despite many conservatives who believe we should exact moneys spent on infra-structure and security from Iraqi oil revenues as pay-back.
America has fought many wars, but has never done so for territorial conquest or to expand our borders. To wit: Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, Germany, Italy, and the whole of Western Europe. On the other hand, Russia, a reduced-size country of about 140 million people, is acting like the bully on the corner stealing candy-pops out of the mouths of children. It has constantly wanted to expand, and for periods of time in its history it has done just that, by bully force.
Since the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviets lost their Baltic provinces and other states such as Georgia surrounding Russia, the Soviets have been angry and have wanted to regain territory. It is my view that this is what this conflict is about and it will be tough to drive Russia out of Georgia. Putin is an expansionist dictator, despite the pseudo-democratization that supposedly took place in Russia. Putin has consolidated power to the extent that he is a dictator without restraint or term limits in a country without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, or really free markets.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people have been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees said hundreds had been killed.
Here’s the history of what has been called the South Ossetian War:
The 2008 South Ossetia war is a military conflict that started on August 8, 2008 involving Georgia, South Ossetian and Abkhazian secessionists and the Russian Federation.
1. Russian army moved from Abkhazia and took control of a Georgian base near Senaki. 2. Thousands of South Ossetia Civilians fled north following Saturday’s attacks. 3. Russia attacked Tbilisi airport and the Baku-Tbilsi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia are territories within Georgia that declared independence from Georgia and have been acting in a de facto independent capacity since the early 1990s. Neither state has been diplomatically recognized by any member of the United Nations. In the early 2000s, it was reported that 95 percent of population in South Ossetia were Russian citizens. The conflict began on August 8, 2008 after Georgia launched a military offensive to surround and capture the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali immediately after a ceasefire. Georgia claimed to have been provoked by South Ossetian attacks, which South Ossetia denies.
Later the same day, Russia responded by moving its troops across the Georgian border, bringing ground forces into South Ossetia and Abkhazia and launching air strikes on targets elsewhere in the country. The Russian government’s stated justification for entering Georgian territory was to protect its own citizens and to prevent “a genocide by Georgian forces”. As Georgia retreated from its offensive in South Ossetia, it claimed it was defending itself from “Russian aggression.” Georgians killed at least 1000 South Ossetian people before the Russians intervened. Russia responded to the charge in the United Nations, saying Georgia had started the war by conducting a military operation against South Ossetia, which Georgia does not deny. Georgia insisted it had earlier been provoked by attacks by South Ossetian militants, which South Ossetia denies.
Most international observers have called for a peaceful solution to the conflict The European Union and the United States expressed a will to send a joint delegation to try to negotiate a cease-fire. Russia ruled out peace talks with Georgia until the latter withdrew from South Ossetia and signed a legally binding pact renouncing the use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazi.
Both separatist provinces are backed by Russia. Russian officials had given signals that the fighting could pave the way for them to be absorbed into Russia. That’s what Dictator Putin and his puppet president, Demitry Medvedev, want.
Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Ossetians are a disntinct Iranic ethnic group whose origin lies along the Don River. They came to the Caucasus after they were driven out of their homeland by Mongol invasions in the 13th century. Some of them settled in territory now known as North Ossetia, which is now part of Russia, and South Ossetia, which is recognized by all members of the United Nations as part of Georgia. South Ossetia currently has a Georgian ethnic minority of about one fifth (14,000) of the total population (70,000). The region, which is one and a half times the area of Luxembourg[(roughly 6 percent of the total territory of Georgia) broke away from Georgia in the 1991–1992 war (in which more than 2,000 people are believed to have died because, as the BBC says, South Ossetians wanted to unite with the rest of their ethnic group in North Ossetia and did not want to accept being citizens of the Georgian government in Tbilisi. A force with 500 troops each from Russia, North Ossetia-Alania (part of Russia), South Ossetia and Georgia monitored a 1992 truce. Georgia accuses the Russian troops of siding with the separatists, which Moscow denies.
Sporadic clashes between separatist and Georgian forces have killed dozens of people in the previous few years. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili proposed an alternative peace accord, under which South Ossetia would be given “a large degree of autonomy” within a federal state. The separatist leaders note they want instead full independence.
Restoring South Ossetia and Abkhazia—a region with a similar separatist movement—to Georgian control has been a major goal for Saakashvili since the Rose Revolution. Additionally, since 2002, the U.S. Army has been providing substantial amounts of support and training to Georgia. The Georgian budget contains military costs estimated at just under US$1 billion or about 4.5 percent of GDP (purchasing power parity), while Russian military spending jumped to US$40 billion, with a 16 percent increase over last year. Russia has the largest army in Europe, estimated at just over one million.
The full independence of South Ossetia was supported by 99 percent of South Ossetia’s civil population according to the South Ossetian independence referendum with 95.2 percent of the population participating in the referendum.
Some sources claim that the South Ossetian separatist government is “dependent on Russia”, although these sources do not provide any reliable evidence or reference. These sources also say that the South Ossetian separatist government “is funded by Moscow”, which “supplies two thirds of their annual budget” and the Russian state-controlled gas company Gazprom has made “investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars” in South Ossetia.
Author’s note: Gazprom, if you will remember, was an independent company created with private funding in Russia–much of it from foreign banks and people–before Putin nationalized it. So much for private enterprise in Russia. Putin saw a good thing and said, “Mine!” This is just one more evidence of the acquisitiveness and illegitimacy of the Russian leader swine. People who invest in Russia are throwing their money away. If the business succeeds, there’s a good chance Putin will put his hands on it.
Most of the residents of South Ossetia are Russian citizens holding Russian passports: according to the British media source BBC, “more than half of South Ossetia’s 70,000 citizens are said to have taken up Moscow’s offer of a Russian passport.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev states that 90 percent of South Ossetia residents possess them. Russia has argued this justifies intervention to protect its citizens, within its peacekeeping mission.
Let joint American-European arbitors do their work, and they will if Russia allows it. My suggestion to George Bush, as stated earlier in Angstblogger.blogspot.com is that he insist the Russians leave the sovereign nation of Georgia immediately or he will call for an emergency meeting of NATO with the sole purpose of voting on the inclusion of Ukraine in NATO.
This should scare the pants of Putin to the point where he will immediately withdraw his troops and agree to pay war damage reparations to war-torn Georgia.