Theodore's World: Putin and Georgia

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August 18, 2008

Putin and Georgia

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the following map shows, that buffer for Russia disappeared.

August 8th and 9th , 2008

On August 8th, large columns of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry entered Georgia into South Ossetian through the Roksky Tunnel that penetrates the Caucasus Mountains. These forces, with heavy Russian air support, drove south and after a fierce counterattack by the Georgians was defeated, drove towards the Sough Ossetian capitol of Tskhinvali. Georgian air fileds and military bases all around the country came under attack, during which between 4 and 10 Russian aircraft were shot down.
In Beijing, where both U.S. President George Bush, and Russian Prime Minister (and defacto leader in many eyes) Vladimir Putin, were in attendance, as word of the Russian attack was reported, President Bush immediately held tense, one on one discussions with Prime Minister Putin in Beijing to try and immediately difuse and resolve the crisis.


August 9th, and 10th 2008

On August 9th the Russian troops opened a second front in Georgia by landing troops in amphibious operations and air transport landings in the other Georgian seperatist province of Abkhazia. These forces, assisted by Russian paratroopers, immediatly began pushing eastward and southward, dividing the country.
The rapid availability and deployment of these two invasion forces by Russia makes it clear that the Russian government had planned, deployed and staged these operations well in advance, raising the natural question regarding whether Russia instigated the attacks/shelling of Georgian villages and positions by South Ossetian forces to provoke the response by Georgia, which Russian then used as a pretext for an already planned invasion.
Fighting was fierce, Russian progress was rapid. On the 9th and 10th the Russians drove into and through the South Ossetian capitol of Tskhinvali, having used air support to loosen Georgian positions and then drive them back with their armored columns, artillary, and the use of SS-21 ballistic missiles.

President Bush statement:

"I'm deeply concerned about the situation in Georgia. The United States takes this matter very seriously. The attacks are occurring in regions of Georgia far from the zone of conflict in South Ossetia. They mark a dangerous escalation in the crisis. The violence is endangering regional peace. Civilian lives have been lost, and others are endangered. This situation can be resolved peacefully. We've been in contact with leaders in both Georgia and Russia at all levels of government. Georgia is a sovereign nation and its territorial integrity must be respected. We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops. We call for an end to the Russian bombings, and a return by the parties to the status quo of August the 6th. The United States is working with our European partners to launch international mediation, and with the parties to restart their dialogue. Russia needs to support these efforts so that peace can be restored as quickly as possible. "


August 10th and 11th, 2008

By the end of August 10th and into the 11th the Russians had driven into the Georgian city of Gori in the north, after significant air raids there had destroyed buildings, terrorized the population, and softened up the Georgian defensive positions. The Russians also drove on the Port of Poti and the town of Senaki in the west.
A couragous, but doomed attack by four small Georgian missile boats on the large Russian Black Sea fleet failed and two Georgian boats were destroyed in the exchange. Reports indicated that the small force may have damaged the Russian flagship, the guided missile cruiser, Moskva, causing her to withdraw, but those reports were not confirmed by the Russians.


"The actions of the Georgian leadership in South Ossetia are a crime and foremost they are a crime against their own people because a deadly blow has been delivered to the territorial integrity of Georgia, which brings massive damage to its national identity.

It's hard to imagine after all that had happened and after all that is still happening they'll be able to convince South Ossetia to be part of Georgia.

In my opinion they are already elements of some kind of genocide of the Ossetian people. I think it would be correct if you instruct the military prosecutor to document all such incidents. "

By August 11th the Georgian military was retreating from Gori and falling back towards the capitol of Tiblisis where the President had called for a defense in depth of the city. Airbases around Tiblisi were under Russian air attack, as was the Presidential residence where the Georgian President had to be quickly evacuated from one press conference when air raid warning went off. The Russians were apparently at that point targeting the Georgian President.

Conditions in the west deteriorated as well. The major east-west higway in the nation had been cut, severing the west side of the country from the east side. Access to the Sea had been cut by Russian forces as well. Conditions for the Georgian Republic appeared very grave.

Some of President Bush's statement on August 11th, 2008

"I just met with my national security team to discuss the situation in Georgia.

I am deeply concerned by reports that Russian troops have moved beyond the zone of conflict, attacked the Georgian town of Gori, and are threatening the Georgia's -- Georgia's capital of Tbilisi. There's evidence that Russian forces may soon begin bombing the civilian airport in the capital city.

If these reports are accurate, these Russian actions would represent a dramatic and brutal escalation of the conflict in Georgia. And these actions would be inconsistent with assurances we have received from Russia that its objectives were limited to restoring the status quo in South Ossetia that existed before fighting began on August the 6th.

It now appears that an effort may be underway to depose Georgia's duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century. "


"It's a pity that some of our partners, instead of helping, are in fact trying to get in the way. I mean among other things the United States airlifting Georgia's military contingent from Iraq effectively into the conflict zone. This of course will not change anything.

The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing -- the attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to adeptly portray victims of aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims.

Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages. And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed ten Ossetian villages at once, who ran elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds — these leaders must be taken under protection. "


August 12th, 2008

On August 12th a singular surprisingly effective diplomatic effort took place.

This action was coinducted by the five Presidents of European Union nations, all whom had suffered under Soviet domination, and all who bordered the current Russian sphere of influence and control.

These five personally came to the aid of Georgia on August 12th and 13th. The five Presidents, Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko, Poland’s Lech Kaczyski, Lithuania’s Valdas Adamkus, Latvia's Valdis Zatlers, and Estonia's Toomas Hendrik Ilves , while Russia was still bombing Georgia, and clearly targeting the Georgian President Saakashvili, flew to Tiblisi, Georgia on August 12th and personally sought out and stood with President of Georgia.

They risked their lives in defiance of the Russian military and leadership, in essence placing themselves directly in harms way as a shield to the Georgian President.

From that moment, the tempo of war seemed to ease as the Russian juggernaught, to that point seemingly unstoppable, paused to consider the ramifications of this event and the location of these Presidents in the Georgian capitol.

It should be recorded as one of the most couragous acts by actual leaders of nations in several generations...and it worked.

In addition, French President Sarkozy, as the current President of the European Union, worked tirelessly to broker a cease-fire agreement in Moscow that day that both nations would sign.


August 13, 2008

After the announcement of the agreement in Moscow, the French President flew to the European Union and then on to Tiblisi.
But, despite the asurance of the Russians, their troops continued to move towards the Georgian capital and continued operations in other parts of Georgia, occupying and destroying bases, demolishing naval vessels, and destroying infrastructure while the Georgian troops withdrew.
U.S. President George W. Bush scheduled and delivered a national message regarding the current status of the Republic of Georgia crisis.

snipet from his speech:

"We expect Russia to honor its commitment to let in all forms of humanitarian assistance. We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads, and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit. We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia. And we expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.

As I have made clear, Russia's ongoing action raise serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region. In recent years, Russia has sought to integrate into the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century. The United States has supported those efforts. Now Russia is putting its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions. To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe, and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis. "


August 14, 2008
By the end of the day on August 14th, the Russians advanced to within 30 miles of Tiblisi, blocking the main east-west highway there just beyond the Georgian positions. They also destroyed the major east-west railway near there, destroying a major bridge for that railway. Aside from this however, no further major combat occurred between the two forces, and Georgian forces tensely manned their own positions, watching the Russians.
Also on August 14th, true to President Bush's word, US Air Force C-17 transport planes began arriving in Georgia, unloading supplies, and also U.S. military teams to assess the needs of the Georgians and prepare for the logistical efforts to meet those needs. The thousands of pounds of humanitarian supplies for the Georgian people were much needed and welcomed, as were the U.S. military personnel. An ongoing effort of 2-3 planes a day will provide the logistical and humanitarian needs of the Georgians, which will be augmented later by US Navy vessels coming in on Georgia's west coast. The Georgian people were beside themselves with joy and relief to see US military aircraft and personnel arriving. They knew full well, like with the five Presidents who came to stand vigil with them, that these troops and this equipment, in addition to the humanitarian effort, provide another shield from Russian attack and all the more opportunity to diffuse the crisis.


August 15, 2008

Late on August 15th, after a five-hour consultation with the U.S. secretary of State, Rice, the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili , signed the cease-fire agreement brokered by the French President with the President of Russia. Russian troops had moved to within 30 miles of the capital where that tense standoff with Georgian military continued.


August 16, 2008
On August 16th, in the morning, Russian President Medvedev officially signed the European Union brokered cease-fire agreemnent.
Under the terms of the agreement, 1500 Russian troops will remain in the Georgian separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and can patrol a buffer zone of five miles outside of those provinces but cannot patrol in Gori and other Georgian cities or hamper aid distribution or control ports, highways or railroads. The Russians will remain until a group of international peacekeepers is identified, accepted, and deployed to the two Provinces.
In the mean time, French President Sarkozy, in his role as the President of the European Union, was working to provide peacekeepers to the Georgian seperatist provinces as soon as possible.


These girls are FOR Georgia and they are protesting in Berlin!

Protestors shout slogans as they gather during a demonstration against the conflict between Georgia and Russia in Berlin August 16, 2008. Russia defied U.S. demands for an immediate pullout of its troops from Georgia on Saturday, saying extra security arrangements needed to be put in place before a withdrawal could begin.

A protestor holds a placard which reads 'Europe wake up!' during a demonstration against the conflict between Georgia and Russia in Berlin August 16, 2008. Russia defied U.S. demands for an immediate pullout of its troops from Georgia on Saturday


August 17th, 2008

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak while meeting in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008.German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Georgia on Sunday to meet with President Mikhail Saakashvili .


Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili meets refugees in Tbilisi

'Putin has given us an order that everyone must leave or be shot'

Times Online

“The soldiers told us they had an order from Putin - leave or be killed.” Manana Dioshvili showed no emotion as she described how Russian troops forced her to flee her home. Her former neighbours nodded in agreement, huddled together in a kindergarten whose windows had been blown out by a Russian bomb.

“That's how they explained themselves to us,” she recalled of the moment they fled the ethnic Georgian village of Kurta, near the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.

“They said, ‘Putin has given us an order that everyone must be either shot or forced to leave'. They told us we should ask the Americans for help now because they would kill us if we stayed.”

Vardo Babutidze, 79, was not lucky enough to be visited by Russian soldiers. Her husband Georgi, 85, was shot twice through the chest by an Ossetian paramilitary who came to their house to demand weapons.

“We didn't have any guns, so he shot Georgi in front of me without saying a word,” she said. “A neighbour helped me to bury him in our garden and then I just fled.”

Manana Galigashvili, 53, whose husband Andrei stared vacantly from a bed behind her, said that Ossetian soldiers had returned later and torched the house. They, too, had left after a soldier threatened to slit their throats.

Frightened refugees told similar stories all over the city of Gori yesterday as the Russian army extended its reach deep into Georgian territory despite a ceasefire agreement signed by President Medvedev that requires them to withdraw.

Troops and tanks moved to within 25 miles (40km) of the capital, Tbilisi, setting up roadblocks and digging in defensive positions in the hills above the highway. A line of tanks faced towards Tbilisi outside the village of Kaspi, a day after soldiers had blown up the railway line linking the capital to Georgia's main port of Poti.

Posted by Wild Thing at August 18, 2008 05:55 AM


EU says it all. We'd like to help you but we just can't reach that far, besides we wouldn't want to anger Putin. Have you tried the Americans? Oh, they're busy working this out through that international body of peace and justice, the UN. Two words meaning ready to be devoured, al dente and detente. Dinner has been served Vlad.

Posted by: Jack at August 18, 2008 08:41 AM

A lot of similarities to now and 1968. One that is striking is in 1968 when the Soviets rolled their tanks into Pargue, there was lots of protest but one of the leaders, Ludek Pachman stood out, he was the world Chess Champion and was locked up for a while due to his insubordination and disrespect fot the Czec government.

Now 40 years later a similar incident happened last November in Moscow. Garry kasparov was arrested and jailed for 5 days for protesting Putin along with 200 other protestors questioning why the government is so corrupt.

This was part of the Fox News special last night. But what is different is American News people were there in Russia and were talking to the people who disagreed with the russian government. And they were speaking out. 40 years ago the city would have been locked down and nobody would be able to speak.

This tells me two things.

First, the democrats claimed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian People ARE NOT READY FOR DEMOCRACY. Well yes they are Putin is having a hard time returning to the hard line and is careful who he locks up. If anyone is to be taken out elaborate plans are concocted to make it look like an accident and the government is less culpable that way. Where 40 years ago the dissident would just disappear.

Second, this new Russia that is trying to return to the old ways is just as stupid as the old regimes was. The most vocal protestors are the best and the brightest in the country and these are the people they are trying to silence, hide or worst kill.

So where does that leave Putin, it leaves him with a bunch of people who will do what they are told in order to protect their lives and families, other than that you have no body willing to think outside the box and when push comes to shove they will leave at the first chance.

Amazing this same scenario is being played out in the democrat party. These are the type of people the democrats are looking for and trying to cultivate for a nation of followers, and no one being allowed to think outside the box. This is clear when you look at the leaders of the democrat party. From Pelosi to Reid, to Howie Dean to Kerry, they are the leaders of the opposition and want blind obediance to their orders. But what it really amounts to is Millions of people blindly following a pipe dream promised by the democrats that is never quite reached and won't be until they are re-elected, again and again.

Someday though the American People will wake up before the tanks roll down our own streets.

Posted by: Mark at August 18, 2008 09:36 AM

The Georgians and their President Saakavshvili are showing spunk. Other stand out-stand ups have been President Bush, the five presidents of former Soviet satellite states and French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel.

The UN is completely useless, worse than that actually. Perhaps NATO and the EU will now wake up and actually face reality.

Luckily Russia is not a real world power any longer. Too many Russians have had a taste of Western freedom and Putin has to worry a bit about internal dissent.

This is not to say that Putin cannot cause great harm. His almost total support of the Iranian regime leads us to the brink of yet another MidEast war. If Putin tries to go into Poland I think that would lead to a major war in Europe. Putin, like too many other tinhorn dictators, makes the world a more dangerous place.

Posted by: TomR at August 18, 2008 11:24 AM

Putin is demonstrating that history does repeat itself. The question is whether the nations standing up to him can count on the support of the United States during the next four years.

Will Vladimir Putin fear or laugh at the next President of the United States and the country itself?

Posted by: Les at August 18, 2008 03:55 PM

Jack, good one and yes that is the attitude too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 18, 2008 04:54 PM

Mark this is excellent comment and thought provoking too. Yes the American people those that don't want to think about these things will one day have to wake up, I hope before it is too late.

So many seem to think that our Freedom is something that just happened and doesn't have to be fought for always.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 18, 2008 05:35 PM

Tom, yes it is really interesting how some will take a stand a strong one and know this is something that cannot be sluffed off but is dangerous for all their countries. I love how these leaders stood with Georgia against Putin.

I agree too Putin is like so many that instead of being a respected leader they are dictators and those can only do harm and they do make the world a dangerous place.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 18, 2008 05:43 PM

Les, yes and thank you for the images. LOL That one of McCain would make a good poster aimed at the terrorists. heh heh

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 18, 2008 05:48 PM

It always looks like Putin is looking down his nose at the rest of the world. He's just a mean little troll. Europe ruined herself with the blood of innocents. That stain will NEVER come out and now the children of the children who survived are acting like the ungrateful spoiled brat who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas. It's probably too late for Europe. Most of her is gone for good. But it's not too late for America! Let's fight this ominous cancer and eradicate it from our shores. Let's stick together as an American Nation! Come on, who's with me? Let's make that stand!

Posted by: Lynn at August 18, 2008 08:13 PM