EDITORIAL: Johns Hopkins Agrees with La Russophobe


Johns Hopkins Agrees withLa Russophobe

One of our esteemed commenters points us to the following statement on the Council of Europe report on the Russo-Georgian war of 2008, about which we editorialized last week.  It comes from the lofty towers of Johns Hopkins University’s Central Asia Caucasus Institute, one of the world’s leading authorities on Caucasus politics. Here’s what they say about the COE report:

It is . . . apparent that its most scathing criticism is reserved for Russia’s role in the conflict. Significantly, the report found that Russia had long been purposefully engaging in provocations against Georgia and unlawful intervention in its internal affairs, and that none of Moscow’s various justifications for its invasion of Georgia hold water. Moreover, the report goes on to fault Russia’s behavior following the conflict, as it continues to be in material breach of the EU-negotiated cease-fire agreement.

In other words, they say just what we said about the COE report. The Wall Street Journal carries the same view.

Over and over and over again, the COE report finds Russia guilty of the most blatant and egregious violations of international law in every fundamental aspect of its behavior before, during and after the war.  The bitingly acidic language the COE uses to discuss the profligate manner in which Russia has flouted the Council’s authority in the post-war environment makes it abundantly clear that Russia is simply not behaving like the one who is in the right. Instead, it is behaving very much like country with something to hide, a country that is ashamed of its misdeeds.

And that’s because, of course, it’s exactly what Russia is.

In our issue today, we provide yet more proof. Human Rights Watch has published a sensational new report proving without a shadow of doubt how Russia has flagrantly ignored basic precepts of international law in attempting to govern the Caucasus region in general, and especially in dealing with Chechnya.  All across the region, over and over and 0ver again, Russia has committed human rights atrocities that have resulted in convictions by the European Court for Human Rights, and Russia has flouted the jurisdiction of that court and totally failed to reform its barbaric policies much less to fairly compensate its victims.

Russia is a nation run amok.  It is ruled by the secret police and it is incapable of behaving like a civilized nation. As much as the USSR ever was, Russia is bent on world conquest, extinguishing democracy and terrorizing the planet by any means possible.

Barack Obama is fiddling while the world catches fire.

15 responses to “EDITORIAL: Johns Hopkins Agrees with La Russophobe

  1. another graet editorial from la russophobe! thank you once again for making a difference with your blog, this blog is truly an eye opener for people who don’t know much about the current state of affairs in russa. (more like neo- soveit russian empire with Genghis Khan Putin in charge)

  2. Sergey Shelukhin

    WSJ link is a lie – it’s a link from OPINION journal. Care to link to main WSJ article about the report?

  3. Sergey Shelukhin

    Needless to say that report accuses Russia of carrying out war incorrectly but doesn’t accuse it of STARTING it, and says Russia was in its right to do retaliate in general. But to that I will reply in main thread, when I have time this week (not likely, it’s 22:30 and I just got home form work :)), or in 2 weeks after I return from Russia :)

    • Actually Sergey,

      The report accuses Russia of comitting provocations and escalations that led directly to the war, and accuses Russia of multiple illegal acts both before, during, and after the war.

      Try actually reading the report, not just the Russian media spin.

      As for your comment “WSJ link is a lie – it’s a link from OPINION journal”, please try and give your brain a chance, the article was published in WSJ, and on its website. Do you understand that all journalism is opinion, or does that fact escape you?

      BTW, Mr. Svante E. Cornell is research director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University-Sais and director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, and co-editor of “The Guns of August 2008: Russia’s War in Georgia” (M.E. Sharpe, 2009).

      He is therefore somewhat more qualified than you to have an opinion.

      From the report itself (once again, as I understand you have a significant learning disability)

      ” The shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8
      August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia, yet it was
      only the culminating point of a long period of increasing tensions, provocations and


      “b) South Ossetian attacks on the Georgian peacekeepers and police as an “armed

      The South Ossetian attacks on the villages were primarily directed against Georgian
      peacekeepers59 and against Georgian police.60 This constitutes an attack by the armed forces of
      South Ossetia on the land forces of Georgia, as also described in Art. 3 (d) UN Resolution

      According to the findings of the Mission, the acts preceding the outbreak of the hostilities led
      to several fatalities on both sides. They not only involved de facto border guards, but also the
      inhabitants of the villages that were attacked. From 6 August on, continuous heavy fighting
      took place. As explained in the section on International Humanitarian Law, the firing caused many civilians to leave their villages.65

      The Mission does not have evidence that Russian peacekeepers acted directly against their mandate, e.g. by directly attacking Georgian peacekeepers, Georgian police or Georgian villages. Such attacks were rather initiated by the South Ossetian militia.”

      The criticism of Georgia was that it should only have “retaliated in kind” rather than used heavier weapons.

      However the COE report roundly condemned and described as completely illegal the following:

      1. Russian actions (or inactions in the case of not restraining their client separatist militia who were trained and officered by Russian military personell) which resulted in the destruction of Georgian villages inside the conflict zone.

      2. Occupation of Georgian government administered territory and villages both inside and outside the conflict zone around South Ossetia, including Gori.

      3. Attacks on Georgian infrastructure (such as the high value “military” target of the Gori cement works and the like).

      4. Russian use of cluster munitions against civillian targets.

      5. The Abkhaz/Russian assault on Khodori Gorge and the Russian invasion of Western Georgia as far south as Poti and Samtredia.

      6. Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is illegal.

      7. Continued Russian occupation of Georgian territiory is illegal.

      And so on, and so forth.

      • Sergey Shelukhin

        No need to repost here, I will reply in original thread when I have nothing productive to do.

        Just one quote:
        “It is not possible to accept that the shelling of Tskhinvali during much of the night with GRAD multiple rocket launchers (MRLS) and heavy artillery would satisfy the requirements of having been necessary and proportionate in order to defend those villages. It follows from the illegal character of the Georgian military assault that South Ossetian defensive action in response did conform to international law in terms of legitimate self-defence. ”

        “There is also no evidence to support any claims that Russian peacekeeping units in South Ossetia were in flagrant breach of their obligations under relevant international agreements such as the Sochi Agreement and thus may have forfeited their international legal status. Consequently, the use of force by Georgia against Russian peacekeeping forces in Tskhinvali in the night of 7/8 August 2008 was contrary to international law. ”

        So Georgia illegally attacked both Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers.
        As I said I agree that Russian response was out of proportion, but I actually sort of support that – crazy people like Saakashvili need to be punished – Putin was so good he almost overcame Saakashvili’s great PR machine. You wanted proxy war, you got proxy war.

        But we can discuss that elsewhere.

    • And in addition

      While blaming “all sides” for war crimes, the EU report singled out Russian backed South Ossetian paramilitaries for “systematic looting and destruction of ethnic Georgian villages”.

      “Several elements suggest the conclusion that ethnic cleansing was indeed practised against ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia,” it said.

      More than 100,000 civilians on both sides were displaced at the height of the conflict. Several thousand South Ossetian civilians remain homeless and some 25,000 Georgians have been unable to return to South Ossetia.

      In conclusion, the EU report, which runs to 1139 pages in three volumes, blamed the roots of the conflict on Russia’s attempts to dominate its small neighbour and Georgia’s sometime erratic responses to Moscow’s aggression

      • Sergey Shelukhin

        Don’t forget the part where Georgia is arming out of proportion. It was pretty obvious that Georgia will nto overcome Russia without outside support, so one can only assume Saakashvili was planning aggression since 2002-3 ;)

        • Sergey Shelukhin

          Well, ignore this comment, I replied to not have a loose end hanging here, I will repost this text in main thread when making joint reply.
          Let’s keep it to main thread.

        • Arming out of all proportion?

          They only had 7 combat aircraft, and by % of population a much smaller military than Russia, Azerbaijahn, or Armenia.

          It was the Ossetians and Apsu separatists who have been armed out of all proportion (by Russia).

          Get real Sergey.

  4. Well a good example of Russian duplicity from the report is that the Russian and Abkhazian forces that (illegally) invaded Khodori in western Georgia were deployed as early as the 6th of August:

    “In an attempt to justify its armed incursion into the upper Kodori Valley, the Abkhaz side
    referred to the presence of the Georgian security forces in the area as a “threat to the Abkhaz
    statehood”.76 However, the Russian authorities acknowledged that the Abkhaz side had been
    planning its military operation in the upper Kodori Valley “in case of Georgian military
    actions against Republic of South Ossetia”.77 Indeed, the operation against the upper Kodori
    Valley seems to have been well-prepared in advance and the forces assigned to this operation
    reportedly started their deployment in the lower Kodori Valley already on 6 August.”


    “At the time of the writing of the Report, the Mission was not in a position to consider the Georgian claim concerning a large-scale Russian military incursion into South Ossetia before 8 August 2008 as substantiated. However, there are a number of reports and publications, including of Russian origin, indicating the provision by the Russian side of training and
    military equipment to South Ossetian and Abkhaz forces prior to the August 2008 conflict.
    They also indicated an influx of irregular forces from the territory of the Russian Federation to South Ossetia in early August as well as the presence of some Russian forces in South Ossetia, apart from the Russian PKF battalion, prior to 14.30 hours on 8 August 2008.108
    Also, it seems that the Russian air force started its operations against Georgian targets, including those outside South Ossetian administrative boundaries, already in the morning of 8 August, i.e. prior to the time given in the Russian official information”

    IV. Threats issued by Russia
    The Report established the following facts for the spring and summer of 2008 (see Chapter 1
    “Historical Background and International Environment”): (1) In April, Russia warned Tbilisi that Georgian NATO membership would result in the permanent loss of its breakaway territories and that Russian military bases would be established there.13 (2) Also in April, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning stating that Moscow was prepared to use military
    force if Georgia started an armed conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.14 (3) Russian warplanes repeatedly flew over Abkhaz and South Ossetian territory in a clear warning to Tbilisi. Moscow claimed a right to conduct the flights, while denying Georgia the right to fly reconnaissance drones in the same area.15 At least one Georgian drone was shot down by a Russian combat plane. (4) In May, Russia increased its troop levels in Abkhazia and sent railway construction troops on a “humanitarian mission” into the region, without permission of Georgia.16 In July, Russian troops performed the “Kavkaz 2008” military exercise. Although it was declared as a regular exercise, numerous features made it appear an extraordinary threat. Moreover, after completion of the exercise, some Russian troops remained in the area and on increased levels of alert.17 All these facts are legally relevant against the background of the tension prevailing between Georgia and Russia at the time. Since its independence in 1991, Georgia’s relations with Russia had gone through a series of military crises. Rising defence budgets and and arms build-up between 2004 and 2008 fed a general perception of insecurity and anticipation of the use of force in the region.18 On the part of Russia, this was fostered through a gradual increase in activities conducive to reinforcing Georgian fears of territorial disintegration, such as the imposition of economic sanctions, the expulsion of ethnic Georgians from Russia, the withdrawal from the 1996 CIS restrictions on Abkhazia and the establishment of direct political ties to their political leadership, and the omission of any reference in Russian statements to
    the territorial integrity of Georgia.19
    By any reasonable definition, the sum of actions undertaken by Russia by mid-2008 amounted
    to a threat of force vis-à-vis Georgia. For Tbilisi, both official statements by Moscow and the
    military operations it authorised on the border and within Georgian territory generated a
    definite sense that, within the context of earlier experiences and of the latest developments,
    Georgia ran a substantial risk of Russian military intervention. This risk involved the de facto
    partition of Georgia and thus a re-definition of its territorial boundaries. While some of the
    political steps undertaken by Russia, such as the granting of Russian nationality, did not in
    and of themselves constitute a threat of force because they lacked a specific reference to the
    use of force, they contributed to a perception of a threat and to crisis escalation. The Russian
    side did not limit its threats to the exclusive objective of discouraging an armed attack, but
    sought to gain additional political concessions

  5. As an act of self-defence against the attack on the Russian military bases, the only admissible objective of the Russian reaction was to eliminate the Georgian threat for its own peacekeepers. The expulsion of the Georgian forces from South Ossetia, and the defence of South Ossetia as a whole was not a legitimate objective for Russia, because Russia could not rely on collective self-defence in favour of South Ossetia, as will be shown below. The admissible Russian objective was therefore limited.

    The military reaction of Russia went beyond the repulsion of the Georgian armed attack on the Russian bases and was thus not necessary. Russia mainly targeted military objectives, and at least some of the targeted military objectives were related to the Georgian attack in South Ossetia. Nevertheless, Russian military support for the use of force by Abkhazia against Georgia cannot be justified in this context. The bombing of large parts of the upper Kodori Valley was in no relation to any potential threat for the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia (see below). The same applies to the posting of the ships in the Black Sea. An impartial observer, putting himself in the place of Russia, would not have qualified the Russian reaction as reasonably related to the objective of halting the Georgian attack on the Russian peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia. The means employed by Russia were not in a reasonable relationship to the only permissible objective, which was to eliminate the threat for Russian peacekeepers. In any case, much of the destruction (see Chapter 5 “Military Events in 2008”) after the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement is not justifiable by any means. According to international law, the Russian military action taken as a whole was therefore neither necessary nor proportionate to protect Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

  6. And further note, that the COE investigators could find no substantive evidence, and therefore could not confirm the Russian allegation that the Georgians deliberately attacked Russian peacekeepers anyway:

    “To conclude, an attack by Georgian forces on Russian peacekeepers deployed in Georgia – if not in self-defence against a Russian attack (which was, as discussed above, not present) – equals an attack on Russian territory which is apt to trigger Russia’s right to self-defence. However, as stated above, the fact of the Georgian attack on the Russian peacekeepers’ bases could not be definitely confirmed by the mission.”

  7. Ukraine will hand 12 T-84 Oplot tanks, developed by the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau, to Georgia in October


  8. Sergey, here is the data about world military balance. It is in russian. You do read russian, don’t you? The data compiled from “Military balance”,London,Routledge, 2008-2009 and for South Ossetia and Abhazia from data published in russian printed media in August 2008.

    Use your brain, if you have any left.

  9. EDITORIAL: Johns Hopkins Agrees with La Russophobe

    You must be very proud, especially because John Hopkins has been dead for about 150 years:


    Johns Hopkins (November 11, 1795 – December 24, 1873) was a wealthy entrepreneur, philanthropist, and abolitionist of 19th century Baltimore

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