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Russia: War With Georgia
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August 8, 2008: A week of fighting in Georgia (on Russians southern border in the Caucasus) was apparently a Georgian attempt to finally defeat ethnic separatists in the breakaway area of South Ossetia (population 50,000). Georgia announced that it had liberated the separatist area. Russia has not yet announced if it will go to war to support the, apparently, defeated South Ossetian separatists.


There is a second such area; Abkhazia (population 200,000). Georgia has a population of 4.6 million, and a hostile relationship (going back centuries) with Russia. In response to this bad attitude, Russia has backed the rebels of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (which are on the Russian border) since the early 1990s. Georgia was part of the Soviet Union (and Russia) for over two centuries. Georgians tolerated this for a long time as the only way to keep the Moslem Turks out of Christian Georgia. But with the end of the Cold War, this was no longer an issue and the Georgians wanted the Russians gone. The Russians considered the Georgians ungrateful and unreliable (for allowing Chechen rebels to hide out in neighboring Georgian mountains.)


The fighting in South Ossetia and Abkhazia had stopped over a decade ago, because Georgia could not muster sufficient military force to regain control of the two breakaway border areas. Then a UN brokered peace deal brought in several thousand Russian peacekeepers. About ten days ago, there were were reports of gunfire and mortar shells exploding in South Ossetia. In the last few days, Georgian Su-25 ground attack aircraft were seen hitting targets in South Ossetia. Artillery shells were reported to have hit a Russian peace keeper barracks. Russia announced that it was sending more peacekeeping troops to South Ossetia. Russian aircraft were reported to have bombed targets just inside Georgia. Russia was unable to get the UN to pass a resolution demanding that Georgia cease efforts to get back control of its territory.


August 7, 2008: The government has been making a lot of noise about rebuilding the navy, with plans to build 5-6 aircraft carriers, and new classes of nuclear submarines. But this is, for the moment, mainly a PR exercise, as the announced plans don't start building anything for another five years. There's a practical reason for that, as many of the smaller suppliers of ship and weapons components did not survive the post Cold War collapse of the 1990s. New suppliers, either foreign or domestic, must be found or developed. A new generation of specialists and technicians has to be recruited, for the Cold War era people are now largely gone (either retired, or moved on to more lucrative work.) Moreover, the current Russian economic boom is driven largely by oil and gas exports (which account for 60 percent of all exports, and 20 percent of GDP.) By comparison, the more varied economy of neighboring Poland, with about a quarter of Russia's population, has 15 percent higher per-capita GDP. Russia still living off its past, especially when it comes to military affairs. A generation of military research and development was lost, along with the research facilities, suppliers and skilled people. The government is having a hard time convincing the new consumer-goods oriented economy to get behind military work. So new state owned weapons corporations are being formed, and these will likely be as inefficient as their Soviet predecessors. Right now, Russian arms exports are seen as a generation behind the West, but cheap and generally reliable. If your neighbors don't have Western stuff, the Russian weapons will do.


August 3, 2008: Russia is quietly preparing to deliver and install S-300 (similar to the U.S. Patriot) missile systems to Iran. For the past year, Iranian operators and technicians have been training in Russia, and some components of the missile systems have already been delivered. Russia has opposed greater economic sanctions on Iran (for its nuclear weapons program, which it says it doesn't have). The only other threat to the Iranian nuclear program (for which Russia is a major supplier) is an air raid by Israel. The S-300s are supposed to help prevent that. By the end of the year, or early next year, the S-300s will be in place.



August 1, 2008: It's been a scary Summer in the Caucasus. Small groups of Islamic terrorists appear to be following through on their threat to terrorize the police into submission. This is done by killing policemen. Sometimes it's an ambush on a rural road, but a recent attack had a lone gunman walk into a village cafe, shoot three policeman, and leave. Special counter-terror police are tracking down these groups, who are usually more into crime than religious extremism, although that is necessary just to keep the group going. There's been a reaction to this in many large Russian cities. Young nationalist thugs are attacking anyone who is not an ethnic (Slav) Russian. This is especially true of those from the Caucasus, Middle East, East Asia or Africa. In Moscow alone, there have been 10-20 such assaults (one or two of them murders) a month.


July 31, 2008: Russia pulled about 400 of 2,500 peacekeeping troops out of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia. Georgia resents this "peacekeeping" mission as it is see as supporting the rebels, and another Russian effort to punish independent minded Georgia.


July 23, 2008: Negotiations are underway with India to jointly develop a new tank, to replace the T-90 that India is building (under license) to become their main battle tank. India will eventually have 1,600 T-90s, with most of them built in India. At the moment, India has more T-90s than Russia, and unless the Russian army places some large orders, India will continue to be the largest user of the T-90 (which is an upgrade of the thirty year old T-72 design.) The new design is expected to be a major departure from the T-72 design, employing lots of new technology.


July 21, 2008: Russia and China have finally settled decades old disputes along their 4,300 kilometers of border. Some of these disagreements go back nearly a century, and the two countries fought several border skirmishes in the 1970s. A treaty was worked out with North Korea over less serious border issues, along a much shorter border.



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bropous       8/8/2008 11:25:42 AM
Russia has moved additional combat troops into South Ossetia.
 
It will be interesting to see how Georgian troops perform, considering all of the training assistance the US have provided to the Georgians.
 
This is a two-pronged move: First, to secure oil pipelines are under Russian threat/control, and to bully Georgia into refusing to host the US ABM radar.
 
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dont_tread    same old ruskies   8/8/2008 11:46:20 AM
if this war turns out to be anything like the chechen wars, russia can expect thousands and thousands of of its soldiers to be killed in the coming months.
 
and civilians in the south ossetian capital of tskhinvali can expect massive casualties from russian bombing just like the civilians in Grozny experienced.
 
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FJV    Best to stay out!   8/8/2008 12:57:05 PM
This can only end up as a negative foreign entanglement for the US. It also doesn't help that the West is moving in on Russia's sphere of influence.
 
 
 

 
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00_Chem_AJB       8/8/2008 6:32:00 PM
I doubt this will be a war like Chechyna, Georgia is not some break away republic it is a country, this is not a civil war, but a war between two nation states both of which have a government. If anything the current situation is a war in all but name, Russian tanks have entered South Ossetia and Russian planes are apparently bombing targets in the SO region and with in Georgia itself, all the while bullets, shells and rockets are flying. One can expect with the gas pipelines being so close to the combat zone that energy prices in Europe will spike. Though with the recent débâcle of Kosovo's independence it will be interesting how the West will deal with this, if they fully back Georgia then they will be showing blatant double standards towards little regions wanting independence. As for the US while it would be a good idea to stand back, they can't, Georgia is an ally and they will be looking at Washington to do something. If a ceasefire isn't sorted soon this wont end well for any one.
 
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00_Chem_AJB       8/8/2008 6:37:48 PM

and civilians in the south ossetian capital of tskhinvali can expect massive casualties from russian bombing just like the civilians in Grozny experienced.

I highly doubt the Russians will bomb Tskhinvali into the dirt as it is the South Ossetians(Russians) they are "protecting," apprantley Georgia has done a good enough job already though one could expect the Russians to bomb Gori and Tbilisi into the dirt.
 
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Lance Blade       8/8/2008 7:23:45 PM
I seriously doubt Russia will invade Tbilisi. But they will defend Abkhasia and South Ossettia at all costs. As the citizens of these breakaway republics were given Russian passports, this act of Georgian aggression is now directed against Russian citizens. I wonder how ordinary Georgians feel about all this? Russia has stated there will be trouble if the West allows Kosovo to become independant. The inability of the UN to come up with a resolution to this crisis has led to this situation.
 
In this particular instance, all Russia has to do is show restraint, while at the same time protecting the respublics. Saakashvilli is facing problems at home with his own opposition. This war will make or break him. Every day that the capitals of these respublics are not under Georgian control, is a day closer to his early retirement. He had a chance to defeat Russia by playing Georgia as a victim. But it is Georgia that's being aggressive. Western opinion over Georgia is already divided, and the longer this war goes on, the worse for him it's gonna get. Unless the Russians do something really stupid, he's lost already.
 
I predict the following scenario: a revolution at home will send Saakashvilli flying off the president's chair, and Georgia will accept a hastily drawn out Russian ceasefire while the UN scrambles international peacekeepers into the area. But hey, I'm an optimist. I'm against people dying in general.
 
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giblets       8/8/2008 7:38:13 PM
I guess the question is how the USA will react, Georgia has stated that it will withdraw its 2,000 troops from afghanistan, which has clearly shown its support of the USA. The USA can clearly not commit conventional forces to Georgia, however, it has been working away at the UN. Will it commit special forces to Georgia? Or just a bit of moral support?
 
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00_Chem_AJB       8/8/2008 7:46:37 PM

I guess the question is how the USA will react, Georgia has stated that it will withdraw its 2,000 troops from afghanistan, which has clearly shown its support of the USA. The USA can clearly not commit conventional forces to Georgia, however, it has been working away at the UN. Will it commit special forces to Georgia? Or just a bit of moral support?


That is the big question, what will the US do? After all it is an ally of Georgia. However there are several South Ossetian claims that Georgian forces were committing ethnic cleansing, if those prove to be true the US will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Also are Georgia the aggressors here? Various sources seem to say that, if this is true then this would be akin to Serbia attacking Kosovo before it became independent, speaking of which Kosovo's independence may come to haunt the West here.
 
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Lance Blade       8/8/2008 7:49:33 PM

I guess the question is how the USA will react, Georgia has stated that it will withdraw its 2,000 troops from afghanistan, which has clearly shown its support of the USA. The USA can clearly not commit conventional forces to Georgia, however, it has been working away at the UN. Will it commit special forces to Georgia? Or just a bit of moral support?

"Georgia's president said his country was withdrawing half its contingent of 2,000 troops from Iraq to help deal with the crisis."
 
hXXp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7550354.stm
 
What can the US do? Sending special forces is risky, because if they get discovered/captured there'll be an international outcry. Rice has been in touch with Saakashvilli constantly apparently. A ceasefire right now would probably be best for everyone. According to some reports, Georgian troops have all but been pushed out of Czhinvali.  It looks like the surprise attack failed. For Saakasivlii it would be best to pull out now and pretend it never happened (random act of aggression from some trigger-happy soldiers, nothing to do with me, sort of thing).
 
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Lance Blade       8/9/2008 4:21:14 AM
Czhinvali is fully under control of the Russian 58th Army, Georgian forces have been pushed out, according to commander of Land forces of the Russian Federation Vladimir Boldyrev. According to him, they've already begun evacuation of injured Russian peacekeepers and civilians to hospitals in Russia.
hXXp://news.ng.ru/2008/08/09/1218268954.html
 
Georgia is pulling out all of its 2000-man strong Iran contingent, in connection with the situation in South Ossetia.
hXXp://www.strana.ru/doc.html?id=106475&cid=1

 
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