Saturday, August 9, 2008

Expert: Explosion in Sochi, damage to the BTC Pipeline, arrests in Javakheti -- How Georgia prepared for war with Russia

Взрыв в Сочи, подрыв БТД, аресты в Джавахети - как Грузия готовилась к войне с Россией: эксперт

"The war in South Ossetia, or to be more precise, the beginning and script of this war--clearly miscalculated--has been specially orchestrated by Georgia and prepared with the active participation of the US," said Viktor Yakubyan, expert on problems in the South Caucasus, expressing his views in a conversation with an IA Regnum correspondent.

According to Yakubyan, Tbilisi's decision to attack South Ossetia was made with complete awareness of the scale of the consequences which would follow such an action. According to Yakubyan, both Georgia and the US have interests in this war. It could be said that these interests "don't match exactly, but could be combined." "The goal of the US is to involve Russia in an extremely complicated and very risky military campaign in order to keep Russia from making economic and international political progress, to create preconditions for the destabilization of the North Caucasus, and in due time to provide a new American administration free reign in its relations with Moscow, and at the same time spoil the Olympic celebrations in China. Georgia's goal is to once and for all rid itself of the "Ossetia problem" and to make South Ossetia and Tskhinvali unsuitable for living for years to come. Hence even the furious artillery attacks on the territory and the merciless destruction of civilian lives is based on ethnicity," said the expert.

According to Yakubyan, immediately before the military strikes in South Ossetia, or more simply, the invasion by Georgia, the scriptwriters of the war wrote in a few preventive measures. "First of all, the explosion in Sochi was an attempt to show Russia how tenuous its control over the region is and how undesirable a destabilized situation in Abkhazia would be, given plans to hold the Olympics in nearby Sochi [2014 Winter Olympics]. Secondly, the forceful actions in Javakheti and the arrest of activists of the local pro-Armenian movement were carried out to eliminate the possibility of undesirable scenarios in the rear--in Southern Georgia in case of extraordinary events surrounding South Ossetia. You could also count the damage done to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline (on Turkish territory!) as yet another prepatory action: the damaged pipeline has forced Azerbaijan to reduce the amount of oil it can release into the pipeline, which would be an attractive opportunity for Ossetia to inflict an environmental catastrophe on Georgia. As a result, as long as there is war, the BTC will remain dry," said Yakubyan.

"As we can see, the war in South Ossetia is a well-planned action, and not a response to any shootings of Georgian civilians in South Ossetia. And constitutional order in Georgia doesn't apply here. Since the day he took office, and even more so after the recognition of the Kosovo's independence, Saakashvili knew that neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia would return peacefully," notes the expert.

Speaking about the prospects of the situation, Yakubyan stated that drama-filled events await the region: "the war isn't being conducted against the Ossetians, but against Russia." "The war in South Ossetia cannot end in Russia's defeat, just as the war won't come to an end in general. The front will reach deep into Russia--into Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Difficult times lie ahead for Armenia, a state whose life-support depends on routes through Georgia--natural gas from Russia and the ferry in Poti. There is also a very small possibility that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh could destabilize. "Hawks" in Baku are paying close attention to the events in South Ossetia in case the situation regarding the transportation links in Georgia continues to deteriorate. And if Russia becomes distracted, they could begin to stir. As for Abkhazia, currently, it has sent its army to Kodori, as there was a risk that after a certain period of time, the Georgian army could emerge from Kodori," summarized Viktor Yakubyan.

IA Regnum

Tbilisi Official: Tskhinvali and nearby heights under Georgian control, reservists take up lodging around Gori

Официальный Тбилиси: Цхинвал и близлежащие высоты под контролем, резервисты расквартировываются вокруг Гори

The Georgian armed forces control Tskhinvali and the nearby heights, the village Dmenisi, the Zaur and Akhalgori regions, the Greater Liakhvi Gorge, and other nearby positions, reported Shota Utiashvili, chief analyst at the MIA of Georgia, to IA Regnum.

"At the present moment, Georgia's goal is to retake the Java and Roki tunnels," he noted. Eka Zguladze, deputy minister of internal affairs, noted that Georgian reservists have been mobilized and are awaiting orders in villages surrounding Gori, there are no dead or wounded among them yet. Parents haven't been able to get in touch with the reservists for a long time due to communication problems in Georgia. Zguladze also noted that the transportation infrastructure, includig the airports in Tbilisi and Batumi, is back to a normal working schedule.

The Ossetian side and Russian Ministry of Defense maintain that Tskhinvali is being controlled by South Ossetia and divisions of the 58th army, and that the Georgian army only has control of the Pris heights.

IA Regnum

City Destroyed [from Tskhinvali blog]

Here's rupor_naroda's account of the events in the past two days in Tskhinvali. Warning, some of the descriptions are quite graphic.

August 8th, 8:50 pm
"I'm alive! Thank you all for your support, we are all very much in need of it now. The city is completely destroyed, like Stalingrad, fighting is going on before every house. I'll try to write about as much as I can... but no promises.

The phone is dead. If I can, I will write. Right now the Russian army is on the border of the republic. We've captured two Georgian tanks and burned them. We have a long night ahead of us! I don't know if my sister or parents are alive. I saw with my own eyes a father and child burn in a car, but before that, they were shot in the head, brains everywhere...

UPD 1 (09.08.2008, 06:30):

"We're ready to defend. They say that Saakashvili wants revenge. Today they killed my neighbor Yanik and his father. He's left behind two children, a daughter and son, one and four years of age. I've found only 6 men from my platoon! The others are gone. I can't find my friend, he was fighting near the village Pris and after the battle he didn't get in touch. The Georgians are very inhumane. Today I saw them drive by and shoot a child in the chest. A father and child died from tank fire. They burned in the car. Only the mother survived. She was pulling her hair out, asking why she survived."

UPD 2 (09.08.2008, 08:00):

"They're beginning to fire artillery shells at the city! Rumor has it that the Georgians want to storm the city on foot, we will meet them."

UPD 3 (09.08.2008, 20:29):

"The Georgians have been storming the city all day. So far we've managed to keep them away. We've burned several tanks. There's been tank and "Grad" rocket fire all day. The city has been destroyed and is finally level with the ground. Right now we're sitting and listening to a portable radio. Our army is located in one of the closest villages. As of now, we don't know what will come next."

August 9th. Tskhinvali

A friend from Kyrgyzstan gave me this link to a blog ( maintained by a young man living in Tskhinvali. I thought it would be interesting to translate his eyewitness accounts.

"Many lives have been lost. Many children have perished. Children were run over by many Georgian tanks.

I am going to a bunker. I've spent the past two and a half days in cellars, this morning I ran from tanks.

All I have is an automatic weapon. Nothing else. The phone has barely charged, but with this are bigger problems, no electricity. No gas. There are almost no intact homes left. Forget about the news, there's an information blockade! The internet connection is barely working."

Putin in Beslan

Путин находится в Беслане

Russian Prime-minister Vladimir Putin has arrived in Beslan, reports an IA Regnum correspondent. At the airport he met with North Ossetian leaders and it is expected that after a short debriefing, he will set off for the Alagir region of North Ossetia to personally observe the level of aid being rendered to South Ossetian victims.

IA Regnum

Abkhazia begins operation in Kodori--Bagapsh

Абхазия начала операцию в Кодори - Багапш

Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh stated today, August 9th, that Abkhazia is beginning a military operation in the Kodori gorge.

According to Bagapsh, the operation was called to assist the Republic of South Ossetia, reports "Vesti."

IA Regnum