Saturday, August 09, 2008

Georgia and Russia at War

Copyright Chuck Holton
Georgian forces have entered South Ossetia and as a result Russian planes have bombed Georgian military targets and a 15-day state of war has been declared by Georgia. South Ossetia declared itself an independent republic in the 1990's after the Georgian-Ossetian War. However, the independence was never recognised by any UN members. It's technically still a Georgian region but since the war it's been guarded under international agreement by Russian 'peacekeepers'. Georgia has never had good relations with Russia - it has close links with the US and it recently wanted to join NATO.

Many South Ossetians want independence from Georgia. The South Ossetian administration held a referendum in 2006 which they say showed 99% support for independence and 95% turnout. Many South Ossetians also hold Russian passports, so Russia says it has a responsibility in the region.

US President Bush has called for Georgia's territorial integrity to be respected. Bush really doesn't want this war - partly because Georgia has urgently pulled its 2000 troops out of Iraq so they can be re-deployed in South Ossetia.

The Russian Ambassador to Georgia has said 2000 civilians and 13 Russian 'peacekeepers' have been killed. He told the media: "The city of Tskhinvali no longer exists. It is gone. The Georgian military has destroyed it."


Anonymous said...

Will the Western world step up to the mark considering Oil is not the underlying incentive?

truth and justice said...

This is an absolute disgracwe - no doubt this was a 'bad news story' that they hoped to hide with the launch of the Olympics - shame on Russsia to put it mildly -big brother is bullying - the international community should be shouting much louder!

nineteensixtyseven said...

While the Russian response was somewhat destructive and the killing of civilians can never be excused, President Saakashvili is a corrupt and increasingly unpopular leader who is using the issue of South Ossetia to unite Georgia behind him with aggressive nationalism. He obviously expected Western help because this seemed timed to coincide with the Olympics and Georgia has been trying to get into NATO for a while now. The people of South Ossetia do not want to be a part of Georgia in the same way the people of Kosova do not want to be a part of Serbia so instead of selectively choosing which regions' bids for independence we support we should support the claims of all small de facto states for autonomy.

Reg said...


I couldn't disagree more.

Georgia attempted to re-assert its territorial integrity over the PROVINCE of South Ossetia (I've never heard of Ossetia let alone South Ossetia referred to as a nation or country).

Russia has now used this as an excuse to annex the province "to protect Russian citizens" (a la the Sudetenland) and also to launch attacks on the pesky little pro-Western democracy that dares to leave its sphere of influence.

The fact that the historic Serbian province of Kosovo is now independent has set a dangerous precedent for Russia to use to interfere even more in other sovereign states which have areas with large Russian minorities. It's South Ossetia now; next might be Abkhazia, Transdniester, Eastern Ukraine, Eastern Latvia?

Anonymous said...

Could it be something to do with gas pipes?

Pierre Brasfort said...

There are indeed concerns.


Europe gets a lot of oil/gas from pipes that run from Iran through Georgia. Most of the gas in South Ossetia comes from other Georgian provinces, but in recent years there has been agreements to build gas pipes from Russia instead.

Mean Dean said...

Might want to mention that the photo of the Georgian Humvee in Iraq came courtesy of reporter Chuck Holton ... who is right now working as an embed in Afghanistan.

His personal blog is at: