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georgia

Like a lot of things not so black and white. I saw this in the other "times", The Financial Times of London. Noticably no mention of gas lines or current US interests, more a backgrounder of the major players.

Here it is.

Analysis: roots of the conflict between Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia

Anatol Lieven

Many factors are involved in the present conflict but the central one is straightforward: the majority of the Ossetes living south of the main Caucasus range in Georgia wish to unite with the Ossetes living to the north, in an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation; and the Georgians, regarding South Ossetia as both a legal and an historic part of their national territory, refuse to accept this.

Twice in the past century, when the empire to the north weakened and Georgia declared its independence, the southern Ossetes revolted against Georgian rule. It happened in 1918-20, between the collapse of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union’s conquest of Georgia in 1921; and it happened again in our own time with the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 1918-20, between 5,000 and 15,000 people died, depending on whose figures you believe. For the conflicts since 1990, the figure is about 4,000 and rising.

As the Soviet Union began to crumble in 1989, and Georgian nationalist moves for independence gathered pace, so too did Ossete nationalism and demands for separation from Georgia.

The Ossete national movement was encouraged by the Soviet Government in an effort to exert pressure against Georgian independence.

In November 1989 the Soviet assembly of the South Ossetian autonomous region passed a motion calling for union with North Ossetia. Thousands of Georgian nationalists marched on Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, in protest but were blocked by Soviet forces.

A year later, after the election in Georgia of a pro-independence government led by the extreme nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the same assembly declared South Ossetia a Soviet republic separate from Georgia. The Gamsakhurdia Government then sent thousands of Georgian armed police and nationalist militia into the region. These were fought to a standstill by local Ossete militia backed by Soviet Interior Ministry troops.

I was in Georgia at the time, reporting for The Times, and could hardly have imagined that this obscure conflict would one day create a major international crisis. Tskhinvali was a typical grey Soviet Caucasian Nowheresville, of bleak, crumbling concrete offices, potholed roads and faceless compounds. The only colour I remember was on the uniforms of the Georgian fighters: one was wearing a blue and white bobble hat, another had made for himself the uniform of an officer in the Georgian forces of 1918-21.

The Russian conscripts by contrast were not colourful at all: drab, demoralised and loathing the whole situation. They were, however, much better armed than the Georgians – and still are today.

The conflict rumbled on for several years, with peaks of fighting interspersed with truces. When in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and Georgian independence (within the borders of the Georgian Soviet Republic, and therefore including South Ossetia and Abkhazia) was recognised by the international community, South Ossetia rejected this and continued to assert its independence. Georgia declared the South Ossete autonomous republic abolished.

Russia has not recognised this, but Russian forces have remained as the de facto defenders of the South Ossetian separatist region.

In 1996 the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) brokered an agreement whereby Russian and Georgian peacekeepers would patrol different sectors of the region.

The OSCE remained until the Georgian Government of Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Communist leader, was overthrown in the Rose Revolution and replaced by the radical nationalist administration of Mikhail Saakashvili.

Russia’s policy is driven by a mixture of emotion and calculation. The Russian security establishment likes the Ossetes, who have been Russian allies for more than 250 years. They loathe the Georgians for their antiRussian nationalism and alliance with the US. For a long time they hoped to use South Ossetia initially to keep Georgia within the Soviet Union and later in a Russian sphere of influence.

That Russian ambition has been abandoned largely in the face of the Georgians’ determination to escape from this influence.

What remains is an absolute determination not to be defeated by Georgia and not to suffer the humiliation of having to abandon Russia’s South Ossete client state, with everything that this would mean for Russian prestige in other areas. Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin made it clear again and again that if Georgia attacked South Ossetia, Russia would fight. Georgian advocates in the West claimed that Moscow was only bluffing. It wasn’t.

Anatol Lieven is a professor at King’s College London and a senior Fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. In 1990-96 he was a correspondent for The Times in the former Soviet Union, including Georgia

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Location: Eatonville, Wa
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georgia

I personally think the US needs to step up efforts in support of georgia. They are one of our allies. They even are still on the ground in iraq, now on the way home to fight their own war. I dont think there are that many countries committed to helping the US out. Its time we repayed their favor. But Im sure Ill be accused of being a war monger.

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georgia

I think you're going to see a lot of harsh words, but in the end, the world will let Georgia go under the bus. Europe has no backbone and relies too much on Russia for its oil. Our strategic interests there aren't significant enough to do anything of substance, because that would mean taking on the Russians during an election year.

Russia is flush with cash due to high oil prices, and Putin is on a mission to bring back its former glory. I think this has more to do with Georgia's western leanings and desire to join NATO than it does with South Ossetia. Russia's not going to stand by and have a NATO ally on its border -- especially if it was Stalin's birthplace.

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georgia
csumerall wrote:
I personally think the US needs to step up efforts in support of georgia. They are one of our allies. They even are still on the ground in iraq, now on the way home to fight their own war. I dont think there are that many countries committed to helping the US out. Its time we repayed their favor. But Im sure Ill be accused of being a war monger.

WAR MONGER!!!

Just kidding! neener!

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georgia
expatriate"I think this has more to do with Georgia's western leanings and desire to join NATO than it does with South Ossetia. Russia's not going to stand by and have a NATO ally on its border -- especially if it was Stalin's birthplace.[/quote wrote:

So do I.

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georgia
jfrench wrote:
expatriate"I think this has more to do with Georgia's western leanings and desire to join NATO than it does with South Ossetia. Russia's not going to stand by and have a NATO ally on its border -- especially if it was Stalin's birthplace.[/quote wrote:

So do I.

Exactly. Here's a great article on it from today's Pueblo Chieftain:

Russia-Georgia conflict aimed at U.S.

CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/FILE Colorado State University-Pueblo associate professor Mark Gose gives his analysis of the confrontation between Russia and Georgia.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wants to oust the pro-U.S. regime in Georgia, CSU-Pueblo professor says.
By PETER ROPER
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin intends to replace Georgia's pro-American government, so the West's demands that Russia call back its troops from the beleaguered republic probably will fall on deaf ears, according to a Pueblo-area professor who helped negotiate U.S.-Georgia agreements following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"In some ways, the Russians have been preparing for this for some time," said associate professor Mark Gose, of Colorado State University-Pueblo. "They have been waiting for a chance to escalate the confrontation with Georgia. You can't believe how much (Georgian President Mikhail) Saakashvili is hated by the Kremlin."

Gose, who chairs the university's history and political science department, was an Air Force lieutenant colonel, its senior political advisor in Europe from 2001 to 2003. In that role, he helped negotiate agreements with Georgian officials to permit U.S. warplanes to fly over that country to strike Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

Gose said Putin, like many Russians, deeply resents Saakashvili's effort to align the former Soviet satellite with the U.S. and the European nations in NATO.

The Georgia province of South Ossetia long has had a majority of ethnic Russians who look to Moscow for leadership, not Georgia. When Saakashvili sent troops into South Ossetia on Friday to reassert its disputed control, Putin answered with Russian troops, tanks and air attacks. He widened the attack to beyond South Ossetia on Monday. "My own feeling is they will try to depose Saakashvili," Gose said. "Putin and the Russian leadership have done a cost-benefit analysis. They know the U.S. is deeply entangled in both Iraq and Afghanistan, so they have to figure that now is the time to strike. And there isn't that much we can do because the U.S. has far more economic interests in Russia than we do in Georgia.

"This is like the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979. Putin wants a change of leadership in Georgia. There will be a lot of posturing on the part of the U.S. and the U.N., but that's about it."

Gose said the Russian attack - or counterattack, from the Russian view - is popular with the Russian public, which likes Putin's effort to rebuild Russia into a newer version of the Soviet Union. Putin's willingness to defy the U.S. and wield Russian power only makes him more popular.

"This is Putin paying us back for meddling in Russia's backyard," said Gose, referring to the U.S. establishing new trade and military agreements with the former satellites of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

"They also resent our support for giving Kosovo its independence from Serbia. Here's Putin saying that if Kosovo should be independent, so should South Ossetia."

It hasn't helped that Saakashvili and the Georgian government have not shown much interest in stopping the Muslim fighters that have migrated through Georgia to the war-torn area of Chechnya, where they attack Russian troops.

"After 9/11, the Russians didn't really mind us reaching flyover agreements with Georgia and other countries because they had been fighting Muslim groups in Chechnya for some time," Gose said. "They figured that fighting a war in Afghanistan would bring us to their point of view. But as the former satellite countries started leaning more toward the West, Russian suspicions and nationalism came back into play. This get-tough campaign in Georgia is more anti-American than anything else."

That the U.S. is about to change its own leadership is another factor in the attack, said Gose.

"President Bush was in Beijing watching the Olympics with Putin while the Russians attacked," Gose said. "This was a calculated decision on Putin's part. I don't see anything good happening to Georgia in the near future. There will be posturing by the U.S. and the U.N., but Putin knows we are not going to escalate this into a bigger conflict."

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georgia

I see the French have landed.

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georgia

This is becoming an interesting situation. I wonder how far this is going to go?

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georgia

Watch Ukraine next. They've been trying to join NATO, too. Their pro-western president was badly disfigured and nearly died when someone tried to poison him with dioxin. They're already spinning up and imposing restrictions on Russia's Black Sea fleet. You can bet they're worried.

We've got to do something, or we'll lose all of the credibility we've built up in the area over the last 15 years or so. Russia's flush with cash and anxious to regain past glory.

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georgia

I know maybe we should impose some embargos. they are very intimidating.

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georgia

I think they are posturing for the postwar negotiations now.
I also think the negotiations are going to be one sided. Would like to see a map with an ovelay of the pipeline. In any case Russia is going to absorb those two provinces.

We have no credability now. In case you missed it we defied the world and invaded a soveriegn nation on trumped up evidence of a threat. We always desert our allies. Not enough money for another coalition of the bought.

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