Border Clash on Georgia/Russian border
update by carol. Originally posted 2008-08-08 12:37:43 -0500; Map image from Global Guerillas
John McCain has again been caught with his hand in the cookie job. One of his top campaign advisors is a lobbyist for Georgia. McClatchy carries the story, by Greg Gordon.
John McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Randall Scheunemann, lobbied for the nation of Georgia for four years, including for about a year after he joined the Republican senator's presidential campaign staff in early 2007. ...
On April 17 of this year, McCain issued a stern statement assailing "Russia's moves to undermine Georgian sovereignty." Two weeks later, Georgia gave Orion a $200,000 contract extension.
After Russian tanks rolled into the breakaway region of South Ossetia Friday amid fighting between Georgian troops and the separatist rebels, McCain called for an immediate Russian pullout and urged the Bush administration to request an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
I would have thought that any successor would be an improvement over the present president. Now I am definitely not so sure.
An article, 1500 Reported Dead as Russians Invade Georgina today by Musa Sadulayev, in Huffington Post gives important background information about the situation. The following, taken from the middle of the post explains some of the background to the conflict in this area. There seem to be parallels to the situation in Croatia and Bosnia, in that both South Ossetia and Abkhazia sought independance from Georgia in the early 1990s, against the wishes of Georgia which appears to regain control over Ossetia. Georgia has maintained an alliance with the U.S. including sending troops to Iraq.
Georgia, a U.S. ally whose troops have been trained by American soldiers, launched a major offensive overnight Friday. Heavy rocket and artillery fire pounded the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, leaving much of the city in ruins.
It is the worst outbreak of hostilities since South Ossetia won de facto independence in a war against Georgia that ended in 1992.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Saturday in Moscow that some 1,500 people had been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, with the death toll rising. The figures could not be independently confirmed.
But Tskhinvali residents who survived the bombardment by hiding in basements and later fled the city estimated that hundreds of civilians had died. They said bodies were lying everywhere.
The risk of the conflict setting off a wider war increased Saturday when Russian-supported separatists in another breakaway region, Abkhazia, also targeted Georgian troops by launching air and artillery strikes to drive them out.
Georgia, which borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since splitting from Georgia in the early 1990s and have built up ties with Moscow. Russia has granted its passports to most of their residents.
Tony Karon, has an article giving some of the geopolitical background to the conflict Has Georgia Overreached in Ossetia? Oil politics certainly plays an important part.
Whether or not the effect was intended, Moscow now appears to be using Saakashvili's strategic overreach to teach a brutal lesson not only to the Georgians, but also to other neighbors seeking to align themselves with the West against Russia. Saakashvili is appealing for Western support, based on international recognition of South Ossetia as sovereign Georgian territory. "A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," he said, calling for Western intervention. But given NATO's previous warnings, its commitments elsewhere and the reluctance of many of its member states to antagonize Russia, it remains unlikely that Georgia will get more than verbal support from its desired Western protectors. Saakashvili appears to have both underestimated the scale of the Russian backlash, and overestimated the extent of support he could count on from the U.S. and its allies. The Georgian leader may have expected Washington to step up to his defense, particularly given his country's centrality to the geopolitics of energy — Georgia is the only alternative to Russia as the route for a pipeline carrying oil westward from Azerbaijan. But Russia is not threatening to overrun Georgia. Moscow claims to be simply using its military to restore the secessionist boundary, which in the process would deal Saakashvili a humiliating defeat.
A story by Anne Barnard and Andrew Kramer, in the International Herald Tribune Russia sends troops into rebel enclave in Georgia reports a potentially dangerous situation emerging, with Russia and the U.S. on opposite sides.
Russia sent troops rolling into a breakaway region of Georgia on Friday after Georgian troops sought to enter the capital of the pro-Russian enclave, in a sharp escalation of the longstanding conflict.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared that "war has started" and President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia accused Russia of a "well-planned invasion," saying he had mobilized Georgia's military reserves.
Georgia is a strong American ally whose shift toward the West and pursuit of NATO membership has angered Russia. Washington said Friday that it would send an envoy to the region to try to broker an end to the fighting.