The Facts on Georgia
As the propaganda spewing out of the Kremlin reaches a feverish pitch, we take a moment to remind our readers of the basic facts concerning Russia’s barbaric actions in recent days and the recent history that lies behind them.
In August 2007, a Russian attack plane fired a missile into Georgian territory; it didn’t explode, and Georgia recovered the remains. Russia refused to take responsibility for the act, and the international community did not demand it. Georgia allowed the incident to pass without military response.
Russian military forces were gathering near Georgia as radical separatist groups in its South Ossetia region were organizing to try to break free of Georgian rule. In mid April of this year, the Putin regime gave official recognition to various documents issued by the separatists calling for cooperation with Moscow, and the Russian military presence was meant to intimidate the Georgians and prevent them from using force to crush the rebellion. Again, Georgia declined military force.
A few days later, as the elected government in Tbilisi began agitating internationally against Russia’s activities, a Russian MiG fighter jet flew into Georgian air space and shot down an unmanned Georgian reconnaissance plane. In May, the government won a resounding vote of confidence in parliamentary elections that were judged free and fair by international observers. In June, an independent UN investigation confirmed that Russia had committed an act of war against Georgia. As Georgia began to agitate vigorously for NATO membership, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened menacingly: “We told the Georgians that their desire to join NATO will not help solve the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; it will lead to renewed bloodshed.” In January, an overwhelming majority of Georgians had voted to join NATO. Pavel Felgenhaur of the Jamestown Foundation wrote:
There is no hope in Moscow that any anti-NATO pro-Russian forces may come to power in Tbilisi, and military action in support of separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is being seriously contemplated (see EDM, June 12). The Russian Foreign Ministry has officially announced that Moscow refuses to discuss with Tbilisi the legality of the deployment of additional troops and armaments in Abkhazia, because the troops “prevented a Georgian blitzkrieg” (www.mid.ru, June 17). When substantial talks are essentially stopped while additional troops are deployed, it’s more than just a threat of the use of force.
Two weeks later, NATO was warning Russia of its concerns about a massive troop buildup on Georgia’s borders, which looked for all the world like Russia was preparing to invade. Georgia still took no military action against Ossetia or Russia.
In July, ignoring NATO’s concerns, Russia openly began flying attack aircraft through Georgian airspace. Simultaneously, there was an attempt to assassinate the leading pro-Georgia leader in Ossetia. Georgia protested and recalled its ambassador from Moscow for consultations, but took no military action. Vladimir Socor of the Jamestown Foundation wrote: “Russia has practically ceased to recognize Georgia’s territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders, and is using force to underscore this fact. International organizations are as usual behind the curve in taking note of this development and drawing the conclusions from it.” An editorial in the Financial Times stated that “the US and the European Union must not accept” Russia’s belicose actions and concluded: “Moscow is very interested in stopping Georgia developing as a pro-west state – and blocking its bid to join Nato. The west must be equally determined to help Tbilisi follow its chosen course.”
On August 6th Socor reported that “heavily armed proxy troops opened fire on Georgian villages, while the secessionist authorities refused to talk with Tbilisi.” The attacks escalated. Socor states: “The attacking forces began destroying the transmission antennae of Georgian mobile telephone systems. Arms and paramilitary groups poured in from Russia to South Ossetia through the Russian-controlled Roki tunnel. Russian officials in Georgia claimed that the attacking forces were out of Russia’s control. Officials in Moscow, meanwhile, justified the attacks directly and indirectly by accusing Georgia of aggression.”
This is what happened next, according to Socor:
At 7:00 P.M. local time on August 7, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke live on national television, announcing a unilateral ceasefire and asking the other side also to cease hostilities. In highly conciliatory words, Saakashvili called for talks “in any format”; reaffirmed the long-standing offer of full autonomy for South Ossetia; proposed that Russia should guarantee that solution; offered a general amnesty; and pleaded for international intercession to stop the hostilities (Rustavi-2 TV, August 7).
Following Saakashvili’s address, attacks on Georgian villages intensified. The village of Avnevi was almost completely destroyed, Tamarasheni and Prisi shelled, and the police station in Kurta, seat of the Sanakoyev administration, smashed by artillery fire. Civilians began fleeing the villages.
These attacks forced Tbilisi to take defensive action. By 10:30 P.M. local time on August 7 the Georgians returned fire. During the night, Georgian forces including armored columns began advancing toward Tskhinvali, the secessionist authorities’ administrative center.
In response, Russian forces crossed the Georgian border in strength and attacked the Georgians, driving them out of Ossetia and following them into Georgia proper. Civilian apartment buildings in the nearby city of Gori were bombed and Russians also bombed the civilian airport outside the national capital of Tbilisi. Russian forces also moved into Abkhazia, another breakaway region of Georgia where no force at all had been used by Georgia, clearingly indicating that Russia was not acting in response to Georgian provocation. When Georgia asked for a cease fire, the Russians ignored the demand, and they are still prosecuting war in Georgia at this very moment.
These are the facts, and they are well understood by the world’s nations. Not one of them, not a single one, has expressed supprt for Russia’s barbarism. It is perfectly clear that Russia undertook a persistent series of actions designed to provoke Georgia into defending its territory, and gathered troops anticipating an retaliatory invasion of conquest. Over and over, Georgia declined military action, until Russia’s provocation became so gross and outragous that there was no alternative but to respond. And now all that has in fact occurred.
President Bush put it this way: “The Russian government must respect Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” He said that Russia’s actions were ““unacceptable in the 21st century” and had “substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world,” as well as harmed relations between Washington and Moscow.
Russia stands alone, covered in blood, inviting another apocalypse. Twice in the past century Russia’s society has collapsed. Now, we see the beginnings of yet a third collapse, and perhaps this time a fatal one. The Kremlin is lying brazenly to its own people about these events, and can do so freely because there is no opposition political party and the Kremlin owns all the TV stations. This is precisely what occurred when Russia crushed the nations of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II, including the infamous massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn forest. Russia also had many reasons then why it was “their fault” and not Russia’s. They were just as empty then as they are now.
Welcome back to the USSR!