Georgians v. Georgian Government

by Joshua Foust on 9/4/2008 · 29 comments

The comments section of the Georgian Propaganda post came up with some fantastic expansions on the theme. I highly suggest reading that. In light of the very uncomfortable truth that President Saakashvili behaved incredibly recklessly, and relied on his understanding of America to bail him out should something go wrong.

An open letter, published by the Georgian daily Rezonansi on September 4 and signed by over eighty individuals and organizations, has called for the launch of a public debate on recent developments…

Then it lists some questions, which the signatories say, should be answered by the authorities, including, why it happened that the Georgian side “despite the U.S. administration’s warnings, fell into the Russian trap.”

The letter blames the Georgian authorities for “the catastrophic consequences” and says that “the authorities, which have in fact prepared the ground for these consequences through its non-professionalism and anti-democracy, are now claiming that what has happened was impossible to prevent.”

This is in a Georgian newspaper. The Georgians themselves are not stupid. More worrisome, however, is what the Georgian government has planned next.

In a New York Times story, we learn Georgia is eager not only to rebuild its military, but not to conduct an After-Action Review of its decisions—a shocking choice for the losing side of a battle.

Georgia’s decision to attack Russian and South Ossetian forces raises questions about the wisdom of further United States investment in the Georgian military, which in any case would further alienate Russia. Not doing so could lead to charges of abandoning Georgia in the face of Russian threats…

“Our mission is to protect our country from Russian aggression,” Davit Kezerashvili, Georgia’s 29-year-old defense minister, said in an interview last week when asked what missions the military would be organized to perform. “Large-scale Russian aggression. The largest aggression since the middle of the 20th century.”

Russian officials last week repeatedly expressed concern about the possibility that the United States would undertake a major effort to rebuild Georgia’s military. “The Americans will enter Georgia,” said Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s representative to NATO. “I believe that soon there will be an American military base in Georgia, officially. And not only advisers. There will be a flag, tanks, artillery, aviation, even marines.” …

Georgia also hopes to acquire an integrated air-defense system that covers the country’s entire airspace, to arm its land forces with modern antiarmor rockets, and to overhaul the military’s communication equipment, much of which was rendered useless by Russian jamming during the brief war…

But as Georgia and the West begin to discuss military collaborations, the conversation is informed by the events of last month, in which the Georgian military scattered under fire.

Georgia’s own analysis is straightforward: its principal vulnerabilities, which it said proved decisive, were its comparative weakness to Russian air power and its inability to communicate effectively in combat.

These problems, according to Mr. Kezerashvili and Batu Kutelia, Georgia’s first deputy defense minister, could be remedied with investments in equipment…

Mr. Saakashvili and his advisers also say that even though he has no tactical military experience, he was at one time personally directing important elements of the battle — giving orders over a cellphone and deciding when to move a brigade from western to central Georgia to face the advancing Russian columns…

To date, however, there has been no independent evidence, beyond Georgia’s insistence that its version is true, that Russian forces were attacking before the Georgian barrages.

Goodness, there is a lot more there. Read that entire article. But, from this, we have that Georgia has no reason why it lost, it doesn’t want to find out, and it just wants to grab as much money and equipment as possible from the U.S. in the meantime. We also learn that, since Russian jammers neutralized military communications, President Saakashvili was issuing tactical levels via mobile phone, which is another way of saying the Russians knew exactly what he was saying to the guy on the other end. Oh, and the Georgians are lying when they say they had to invade South Ossetia to stop a Russian advance on the country.

This kind of reckless amateurism, which is appalling by any standard, killed 1,000 Georgians, forced tens of thousands into IDP facilities, destroyed the entire Georgian Navy and demoralized the army, and will nearly bankrupt the country.

… That is, unless the U.S. steps in and gives them a billion dollars. Even though they insist it does not include military aid, there are two things to consider: 1) technically, the money we give Pakistan is not military aid, even if Pakistan spends it on its military anyway; and 2) $577 million in economic assistance will free a helluva lot of money the Georgians would otherwise spend providing services and enable them to spend it on their military. So really, what the hell?

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use


John September 4, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Really this war was something stupid, but did you notice some similarities with Israeli – Lebanon war? Here are 2 quotes:
– A prominent human rights group says Georgia has admitted dropping cluster bombs in its military offensive to assert control over the restive province of South Ossetia.
Human Rights Watch says it has received an official letter from Georgia’s Defense Ministry that acknowledges use of the M85 cluster munition near the Roki tunnel that connects South Ossetia with Russia. The M85 is the same weapon that was used extensively by Israel in its 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Quoted from AP, 09.01.2009);
– To a reporter’s question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel, he [ Pres. M. Saakashvili] said:
“We have two Israeli cabinet ministers, one deals with war (Defense Minister David Kezerashvili ), and the other with negotiations (State Minister for Territorial Integration Temur Yakobashvili), and that is the Israeli involvement here: Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews.” (from comments on

fnord September 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Nhhh, I *hate* it when people pull in the term “Jews”. Its like opening a can of flames. In this case, Israel has played softly-softly in order to keep its relations with Russia cordial, again due to Russias ability to upgrade Syria/Irans weaponry. So while their lobbyists may be pushing somewhat inside the US camp, I cannot see this in any way as a part of any “jewish” conspiracy or whatever. Do not seek conspiracies where stupidity is possible.

The point made about the military incompetence is, on the other hand, striking. The unwillingness to make a afteraction report is striking, as is their continuing overuse of propaganda. (Wired (wich links this blog btw) has some info on the propaganda effort here: ). The question remains unanswered: What were they thinking? What was the battleplan for the Georgian advance? What does this indicate about the reality perspectives of the leaders of Georgia, and is the west really going to go all-in in order to support a obvious charlatan like the current leader?

Oldschool Boy September 5, 2008 at 1:40 am

Oh no! You should never admit your loss if want to remain. As soon as you start reviews you will drown in endless debates. This is not what you do in a crisis situation. Reviews can be done later and Saak and his advisors know about it.

I believe Georgians have rights to rebuild their Army. Well if they do not they will better spend money on rebuilding all the damaged Georgian towns.

Knowing Russians, Tshinvali is not going to be rebuilt in foreseable future. Ossetians do not have capacities and Russians will simply either delay or steal all the money. Example is Grozny which is still in ruins.

That could be a good opportunity to show which country’s system is better.

Joshua Foust September 5, 2008 at 4:46 am

fnord, I think we’ve built a good rapport with the guys at Danger Room — there is mutual respect there. Especially on this issue (but also covering the Navy beat), I think David Axe has done superior work. And Noah Shachtman is an excellent roundup guy — he has a knack for finding fun angles to these things.

John isn’t wrong, necessarily. Although Israel did an AAR in the form of the Winograd Commission, I think he is pointing to similarities in the war itself — and in that sense you can draw some really interesting conclusions.

Oldschool Boy, Georgia has the right to do whatever it wants. It had the right to invade South Ossetia. But they are being stupid, and the U.S., in re-arming them, is being stupid too.

AMac September 5, 2008 at 8:46 am

> the Georgians are lying when they say they had to invade South Ossetia to stop a Russian advance on the country.

In my opinion, this statement is unproven at this time.

The Georgians continue to claim that they confirmed 58th Army armor moving through the Roki Tunnel prior to ~11pm on Aug. 7. They say they had two (three?) eyewitness reports and a heads-up from “foreign intelligence.”

The Russians have asserted that the movement started early on Aug. 8, in response to the Georgian thrust to Tskhinvali. But they have given no further details.

Since the Georgians made the claim, it’s incumbent on them to provide the evidence. To this point, they haven’t been pressed to do so by, say, the U.S., the EU, NATO, the UN, the OSCE, or the media. Given the stakes, there should be a rising chorus of “show us the money!”

There is likely to be further evidence as to the timing.

* The U.S. or others may have satellite imagery or signals intercepts.

* The OSCE apparently had a military observer at the JPKF post at the crucial Didi Gupta junction, ~35 km SW of the Roki Tunnel on route P-2 (the only road connecting the tunnel with Tskhinvali). They haven’t revealed what that observer witnessed.

* The commanding officer of the 58th Army hasn’t gone on record with his version.

* Interviews with Russian and Georgian soldiers should give a better picture of the Russian advance.

My own suspicion is that Russia wished to goad Saakashvali into trying a Krijina-style lunge into Ossetia, and that the late-July and early-August ratcheting up of provocations by Ossetians was by design.

I speculate that Russia had (has) well-placed intelligence assets in Tblisi who reported to Moscow on how Saakashvali and his advisors were interpreting events in South Ossetia. In this scenario, Moscow could have calculated that a couple of anonymous tips from cell-phone calls emanating from the Java region of Ossetia might suffice to tip the panicky Saakashvili to order the start of his foolish and poorly-executed invasion.

Moscow would have understood that Saakashvili and his circle would belatedly figure out that the Aug. 7th “Psst! Armor moving through the tunnel!” phone tips had been staged. But by then, it would be a mortal political blow for the president and his advisors to admit to the Parliament and public that they had been duped. As a bonus, in the absence of an inquiry, Moscow’s assets in the Georgian government would remain unexposed.

As I said, this is just speculation. But it is plausible speculation that underscores the urgency for Georgian allies and potential allies to demand testimony and evidence that speaks to what happened on the evening of August 7th. I would hope that the media and electorate of a democratic country would be interested in the answers, as well.

archon September 5, 2008 at 10:57 am

Looks like Majpr Dumbatze isn’t the only one who wasn’t copied on the memo:

Radio Netherlands, Reports in Gori by Our Reporter, Hans Jaap Melissen in Gori, 8-19-08:

Alexander Lomaia is Mikheil Saakashvili’s right-hand man and was partly responsible for giving the go-ahead for the Georgian military action in South Ossetia. But the operation had a completely different outcome from what he was expecting.

“Our aim was to block the Roki Tunnel….For some time it had been the route of illegal support for the separatists. We thought that after we had done that we would be able to negotiate with the Russians.”

What followed was a large-scale Russian assault. “It was an enormous surprise,” he says. He was also surprised when the West gave Georgia only verbal support.

You would think that an Ivy-league trained lawyer could have contrived to get these folk singing from the same page.

Oldschool Boy September 5, 2008 at 12:33 pm

I do not know how productive it is to keep looking for who started first, particularly since it is not going to change anybody’s way of actions, but beginning from May-June I have seen not many but some articles in Russian news-sites predicting war in S. Ossetia in August. At the same time there were large exersizes of Russian 58th Army in an adjacent area. So were these just wild guesses or speculations of journalists or was it based on some insider information from Russian military, who obviously planned the response to “unexpected” invasion of Georgian forces in S.O.? The 58th Army is only Russian unit capable of fighting and by which coincidence it happened to be in the area?

AMac September 5, 2008 at 1:09 pm

“What happened on August 7th” is obviously complex, though perhaps not to the extent of the more-famous Guns of August. However, the answer is, in my opinion, quite important. (It would be even more so, were I Georgian. Or Russian.) What my polity (the U.S.) does next is largely dependent on our assessment of who wore white and who wore black. Or, if you wish, the varied shades of gray.

The US is being invited to fund Georgia’s reconstruction and re-armament. Assume for a moment that this is in the US’s interest. Are Georgian institutions likely to use our assistance properly (as we define “properly”)? Are the persons in charge likely to make wise tactical and strategic decisions?

We can take a stab at those questions by looking at two things. (1) The track record to date, and (2) the ability of the people and institutions in question to draw the proper lessons from what has transpired.

Others, e.g. Georgians, should have even stronger motives to figure out the correct series in which the events of early August unfolded.

Which takes us full circle. The Georgian government says that Russian army transiting the Roki Tunnel on Aug. 7th was the event that precipitated this crisis…

Mark Bolan September 5, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I been reading everything this blog writes mostly based on assumption and ignorance. To me does not make much deference if someone will understand what I say or believe it as I been living in North Ossetia where I have a vodka factory and have couple of hundred S.O. employees so I got involve in their problems as well learn a lot of their history and been a westerner also make my own search on the local history and find out for my self what is what.
That Georgia is the aggressor only ones who follow the western mass media dispute it and is been the aggressor for years so what happen on 7th of Aug. was the conclusion of a US/UK/Israel plan in their believe that this way will sacrifice some of georgia and gain the rest of the eastern counties and eventually also set a base in Georgia as they are already trying to do. They dont care of the collateral damage in case none of you understand this then think again.
Is so convenient to forget to mention when you assuming the military war games and test runs americans with georgians did and the response and warnings of Russia when they was doing it provoking and threatening.
And I have one simple question to the americans who run this blogs and assuming and speculating in an effort to sound intelligent do you like what is happening in your country be that USA or europe ? Is that what all of you call freedom or you think because you are allowed still to write what you write in the net this is freedom?
Have all of you gone blind to what happens in your every day lives and how life the last two years is impossible to live so most either loose their homes or have three jobs only to put food on the table and is no longer such a thing as family ties or real friendship a luxury none of you can afford?
Is any of you talking here really been to Russia to see how people are what families they have and the principles they live by ? which is also what western so called civilization should have not only preaching it and only exist in their hollywood scenarios?
In what americans claim to be a war on terror given out a message .
WITH US OR THE TERRORIST The question here is who the real terrorist are and we are answering to the americans who follow this message.
WE are NOT with you or anything you stand for until such a time that you learn to be normal human beings and not genocidal maniacs until then WE are AGAINST YOU in every step of the way.
And my friends here and brilliant writers the next war it will not matter how many airplanes and tanks one has, or how modern they are as there will be no winner and the first ones to loose will be our children so spend less time writing speculations and try the little each one of us can do to be done so we get rid off this lunatics who decide for our future.
No offense mean to any one but if one take offense then it better make some soul searching as wars are not the answer here. The answer is every one make a stand and say no more.

archon September 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Perhaps, in observance of the “fair and balanced” thingy, I may be indulged in putting into the record a few examples of South Ossetian propaganda. Some of it, as may be seen, is rather clever.

State Committee of Information and Press of the Republic of South Ossetia (


4-7-08 (Quoting Eduard Kokoity):

We are seriously concerned about the Georgian attention to launch full-scale military operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia… The point is that Georgia has no grounds for the legal resolution of our problem. Up to now, Georgia has been backed by EU, OSCE and the US. But now, when “old” Europe, namely France, Germany and Spain supported Russia’s position at the UN Security Council pertaining to Georgia and the Ukraine joining NATO, Saakashvili undertakes tremendous provocations truing [trying] to drag western states into Georgia-Ossetian….conflicts.


A general mobilization was declared. In case of another shelling from the Georgian side, the heavy arms will be to enter to the conflict zone. As is well known Georgian militaries have been constructing fortifications for one week in the conflict zone. At Thusday under the guise of protecting the bypass road Georgian side placed another five illegal posts. At night were confirmed two attacks….Georgian troops were trying to occupy strategic Sarabuk heights.


On August 2 from 21 til 6 o’clock, armed detachments of Georgia around the periphery of the boundry it was started the firing upon residential areas of Tskhinval and Osset villages from rifles, grenade cup discharges, mortars and heavy military equipment.


At the height above Nuli village Georgians are constructing another post.. We will take most tough decisions in this regard, for this are band [banned?] formations and they are shelling our villages….(Eduard Kokoity)

With due respect to reality, can anyone suggest any way, other than by force of arms, Georgia could hope to get control of South Ossetia?

Oldschool Boy September 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Even if we admit that Georgians are aggressors how is going to help to resolve the situation? How is it going to help Ossetians? You know who was sponsoring Ossetian separatism. You know that it was Russia. They were not supporting their independence. Russians were simply trying to breake a piece of Georgia and take it to themselves. There is going to be no independence for Ossetians.

Now, S. Ossetia has proclaimed “independence” and Russia suppoted it. How is it going to help your friends Ossetians? Are Russians going to restore Tshinvali? I do not think so. Look at Grozny, it is still in ruins despite proclaimed millions of dollars given to Chechnya from Moscow. Are S. Ossetians going to do it by themselves? I do not think so. Are all Ossetians problems over, including their feud with Ingush and Chechens?
Is Caucassus tranquiled now? NO!
Russians simply do not care about Ossetians, and Beslan is an example of that. All they care is to strike Georgia and show who is boss.
I am so sorry, but looks like that only Ossetians lost in this war, and there is no hope for them.

RussianNationalist September 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm

OldSchool boy:Knowing Russians, Tshinvali is not going to be rebuilt in foreseable future

You know nothing about Russians, that is for sure. There has been a massive rebuilding effort that has already spent well over $1 billion USD. Supplies are being flown and driven in daily. Water was restored in 2 days and gas in 4. “Knowing” Russians you would know that Russia provided aid to America’s drowned city of New Orleans on the 2nd day, but your Bush refused aid for a week. Russia provided aid in 1 week to China and in 2 days to Cuba. So in truth, with your statement you have shown you don’t know anything about Russians.

RussianNationalist September 5, 2008 at 6:10 pm

OldSchool Boy:You know who was sponsoring Ossetian separatism.

Yes, it was Georgia’s attempts at Genoicide, first in the early 1920s, than in 1991 and finally with American backing (just like the US backed genocide of the Serbs of Krijina by Croats and the Serbs and Roma of Kosovo by Albanians, and backed Arafat and saved him after his genocide of the Christians in Lebanon and backed the Turkish genocide of the northern Greek Cypriots) in 2008. Enough is enough.

Oldschool Boy September 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I know russians very well. It fact what I said did not concern all the russian people, but rather Russian Government and their supporters. Now tell me, is Grozny restored? How long did it take to get Kursk from under water? What did Russian government do when terrorists seized the school in Beslan, North Ossetia? Did they get all the kids safely or they bombed the terrorists and Ossetian kids all together? Tell me about $ 1 billion – how much of this money is going to be stolen by Russian officials? Is there no corruption in Russia? Does anybody in Russian Government care what is going on in Ingushetia? Why are russian police and special service force allowed to kill journalists? What did Moscow do to resolve the conflict between Ingush and Ossetian people?

archon September 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Poor South Ossetia–a wretched, despised “secessionist enclave,” which could not lawfully call on another state for assistance or, for that matter, offer lawful resistance to being lorded over by the Georgians. Or so the high priests of “international law” tell us. We’ve become far too sophisticated for “self-evident truths.”

archon September 6, 2008 at 1:21 am

A vast edifice of geopolitical speculation has now been erected on the premise that Russia guilefully provoked Saakashvili into doing something that would serve as a pretext for a retaliatory response. The advocates of this “mousetrap” theory lean heavily on the fact that the Russians responded to the attack on Tskhivali with such alacrity.

The Russians had just completed “war gaming” for eventualities in South Ossetia. They had accused Georgia, before the attack, of building up its forces (including heavy equipment) in the conflict zone (Georgia rebels clash; Saakashvili denies war buildup, The Star, Matt Robinson, 8-7-08.) They had observed an ominous increase in violence along the lines in the days before the attack. Why wouldn’t they have been ready?

And what is the evidence, other than the representations of Saakashvili and his lieutenants (well, most of them) that the increase in violence was caused by the South Ossetians? Anyone? And would not Saakashvili, had he managed to sweep past Tskhinvali and secure the Roki Tunnel (according to plan) have been left in the proverbial catbird seat?

Mark Bolan September 6, 2008 at 3:47 am

Oldschool Boy you are missing a vital point here and I think for what i read all in this blog do. The only reason Georgians claim Abkhazia as well South Ossetia as their own territory is because in 1954 Stalin decided to split countries in two during the USSR era which hopefully some of you know who created that abomination and stop have as one in your minds Russia and USSR, It is easy to learn history you know… read it, and this countries never accepted the fact that suddenly their lands been taken away at the whim of a Georgian who happen to control at the time USSR.
Not did they took kindly the georgians who come to their land and occupied it and settle in as it belong to them , as some countries now doing in middle east. The moment USSR collapsed this countries declare as others did their independence and proceed to unite with their other half some of them some as is the case of Abkhazia just want to be free and been free calling their own destiny since 1990.
Since then this two countries have been attacked repeatedly from georgia usually supported by western NATO .
The Russians will support South Ossetia but Ossetians do not need any one to restore their towns they do that themselves as they did it all along. And I have look Grosny you havent . I visited many times Grosny as we have a flourishing business there and have a lot of friends as well there. Russia spend more than 4 billion euro the last years restoring everything there and life is very normal after the conclusion of the cover attack there by NATO and make no mistakes who arm and started the revolution there so is time all thinking human beings thou they have the right of their convictions and believes to stop echo the western mass media.
In the spirit you talking all of you is not personal know or see it is what western media is saying and I ask you this . Are you so blind and so un ware of reality? You think that actually a country as georgia will attack suddenly Russia on her own to actually take control of South Ossetia? Is any one of all of you writing here remotely aware for the realities there?
Yes I have friends in South and North Ossetia but I also have friends in georgia who are just the same for me friends are any of my friends are and I care for them. Also in my country we have a very large community of Greek Georgians who have at times migrated form there due to internal police state since Saakashvili took office to Greece or Cyprus .
Understand all of you this. If you agree with what Israel does top the Palestinians what the USA did to Iraq and Afghanistan then is no sense here arguing . if not then we can give the little information we personally have to each other and at least this way we do know the truth and base on that truth we build a new understanding. As I am sure we come from deferent countries and deferent exposure to realities but we can share and learn from each other.
So you suggest that Ossetia should let georgians occupy once more their country and proceed to kick them out of their land is this your line of thinking? Have you spoke with any Georgians who left their country chase away form the regime there or have you seen the way the police there have killed the opposition the last years or the way they treat any one who attempt to demonstrate against the government ? Are all of you this naive or un inform ?
Listen friend we are not talking about any democracy here we are talking of a puppet government installed there by Soros and since then nothing but trouble existing there so yes I am positive on what happen there . When we first went to Caucasus for business our main port of export was Poti until Saakashvili come and started all this adventures of his at the command of the ones who run it . My suggestion as I can not do this here is learn BIT MORE OF HISTORICAL Facts and then you see the light .Also decide who the aggressor is and who the victim for me the aggressor is USA/UK/NATO and allies. Georgia – south Ossetia and Abkhazia are the victims and it dont mater who started what. BUT WHY THEY DID>

Mark Bolan September 6, 2008 at 3:50 am

And Oldschool boy what do you know of Beslan and what happen there as I was there with the Russians at the time . So do tell yet another western propaganda in your mind ?

Oldschool Boy September 6, 2008 at 4:32 am

That is not going to work with me: “I have been there, I have friends, blah-blah-blah”. Name me one of your chechen friends. Tell me from which teip he is from, where he came from and who his relatives are. For whome he fought? When and where were you in Beslan? With whome? What did you do there? And tell us what happened and what have you seen if you were there.

Look, my point is that Ossetians have no real independence, they did not want to be with Georgia, they will be with Russia. But it proves my point that the Russian aim was not the liberation of Ossetians, but damage to Georgia. Besides, Ossetians are not all nice people. Try to speak to any of your Ingush or Chechen friends about whome you bulls….ng here and they will tell you about the Vladikavkaz massacre that was organized by Ossetians.

Do you want to know about real history? OK, hear this, when Stalin and his close friend Ordjonikidze were drowing borders of the Caucassus republics they were visiting villages in the region and demanding proofs of their loyalty, Ossetian vilages showed total submission and were greeting them by providing girls in milk bathtabs. Chechens, Ingushs and Dagestanis and other peoples of Caucasus in contrary met Stalin with dignity and never submitted their honor. For that they were all expelled to Kazakhstan and Siberia and their lands were given to Ossetians, Georgians and Russians. So, what Ossetians now claim as their land may not be really theirs. That is what I’ve heard and people in Caucasus will tell you this story. Or you can read a novel by Anatoli Pristavkin “Ночевала Тучка Золотая”. Neighbors of Ossetians, I mean, Chechens and Ingushs really hate them.

My point is: do not try to dig too much in history trying to resolve current problems, the history can kick you in the nuts really hard.

archon September 6, 2008 at 6:18 am

From the Say What? file:

Newsweek International, Stalemate Continues, Anna Nemtsova, 8-15-08:

What did the Georgian leadership hope for when they made a decision to use heavy artillery against Tskhinvali…on the first night of the war? The spokesman for Georgia’s ministry of internal affairs, Shota Utiashvili, said: “Already in May we realized that the Russians began to build a railroad in Abkhazia and that the Russian army slowly and steadily will be moving towards our borders, and then to Tbilisi. We had a choice, either to capitulate and not use artillery, or fight and then capitulate. The Georgians chose to fight, he said. Utiashvili explained that the tension was growing between the two states for two years, and that in May the Georgian Government realized that war was inevitable.

Boy just ain’t right.

Ryan Erickson September 6, 2008 at 8:33 am

Here’s another article quoting Saakashvili’s former right-hand woman [who saw the writing on the wall a couple months ago and refused to run for reelection] as knowing of the attack just days before:

She said that she had met with President Saakashvili “few days before the crisis.”

“I expressed my views and my vision. I was sure that Russia will attack if there will be any kind of military action from the Georgian side, and I saw that Russia wanted to provoke Georgia.”

“I always thought there is no military solution for Ossetia and Abkhazia because Russia will fight, Russia will send troops, Russia will send arms, Russia will send aircraft.”

archon September 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm

On the Distinctions between Actual and Aspirational Sovereignty

Georgia: Shevardnadze Discusses 1992 South Ossetia Aagreement, , interview of Shevardnadze by Nona Mchendlishvili, Radio Free Europe, 2-23-06, excerps:

There was, indeed, no other way out…By the time i returned to Georgia…the South Ossetians had already declared their independence. [Georgia’s} Supreme Council had, of course, overturned the decision and abolished the autonomy of the South Ossetian district….President Zvaid Gamsakhurdia decided to invade the region….Georgians were not ready for war, and they were defeated….So when…I returned, our main purpose was to stop military operations. I then met with…Yeltsin…and we agreed to put a halt to hostilities.

There was no other way out for us…The main purpose [of these negotiations] was to stop the war. We stopped the war and we set up this Joint Control Commission.

We couldn’t afford to be at war any longer. We had lost the war….We did not argue about whether the peace meant a loss or a gain, because we had been defeated.

….our soldiers were literally brought to their knees….Frankly speaking, it is our fault. We shouldn’t have entered South Ossetia in the first place.

archon September 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm


archon September 7, 2008 at 8:21 am

From the Butter Would Not Melt in Their Mouths file:

Stratfor: Georgia: The Approaching War with South Ossetia

August 3 2004


Georgia is determined to bring the breakaway region of South Ossetia under its control….Although military pressure–not firepower–will be Georgia’s first tactic, war appears almost inevitable.

Tbilisi….has a war plan in place, and is hoping the separatists will buckle under the increasing military and diplomatic pressure.

Saakashvili’s plan is to apply strong military pressure in an effort to force South Ossetia’s capitulation….To that end, he is stealthily moving Georgian troops–about 3,000 thus far– into the ethnic-Georgian towns that surround Tskhinvali, sources in South Ossetia and the Georgia Interior Ministry say.

But Georgia has other tactical advantages. Many of the ethnic-Georgian villages boast reinforced concrete forts….

archon September 7, 2008 at 9:49 am

From the Slow Learners file:

A course set for conflict, Peter Spiegel and Borzou Daragahi, LA times, 8-17-08, (excerpts):

Many say that the Georgians, with the United States in their corner, became overly confident of their abilities.

At a conference in the picturesqe Croatian port of Dubrovnik over the July 4 weekend, Bruce Jackson and Daniel Fried, the State Department’s top European hand, pleaded with the Georgian president to abandon hopes of defeating Russian troops.

“You are not in NATO….if you get into this, you’re in it yourself,” Jackson recalled Fried telling Saakashvili. “Nobody’s coming. There’s no cavalry.”

AMac September 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm


It would be appreciated if you could supply links, when practical and convenient. The tool at makes it unnecessary to perform any formatting steps. For instance, a link to this post can be supplied as

archon September 7, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Sorry. Since I’m using msntv, I can’t post links. I’m electronically underprivileged, so to speak. Go any spare bills?

Unless you subscribe to Stratfor, I think the only way you’re going to get the note I mentioned above is to go to Googe Groups, and search “Stratfor Ossetia.”

archon September 7, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Is this what is called military intelligibility?

Georgia “did not expect” Russian counter-offensive, Jan Cienski, Irish Times, 8-22-08, (excerpts):

Georgia did not believe Russia would respond to its offensive in South Ossetia and was completely unprepared for the counter-attack, the deputy defense minister has admitted.

Batu Kutelia told the Financial Times that Georgia had made the decision to seize the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali despite the fact that its forces did not have sufficient…defenses to protect themselves in the event of serious resistance.

Mr. Kutelia still blames the Russians and their South Ossetian allies, saying that in early August Ossetian fighters began to shell Georgian positions and villages.

He said Russia had begun to move heavy armour through the Roki tunnel from North Ossetia before Mikheil Saakashvili…unleashed his military against…Tskhinvali on August 7th.

AMac September 7, 2008 at 11:50 pm

> got any spare bills?

Thanks for the cites in whatever format, then. Any information on what Spetznatz or Georgian Special Forces were doing on Aug. 7/8 in northern South Ossetia (Roki Tunnel/Java/Didi Gupta)? The only sourced mention I know of is a brief mention in this 8/20/08 Novosti piece.

Russian special units were set the task to counter Georgian commando raids. According to available information Russian special units prevented Georgian saboteurs from blowing up the Roki Tunnel, the main link between Russia and South Ossetia.

Previous post:

Next post: