Archive for the ‘South Ossetia’ Category

Another dispute on Obama’s plate: Georgia-Russia

January 25, 2009

When Russia’s tanks and fighter jets invaded Georgia last August, the Kremlin said its aim was to stop genocide in the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia. In a few days, Georgia’s military had slaughtered some 2,000 people there, Russian officials and their allies in the South Ossetian government claimed.

Last month, however, the head of the Russian federal prosecutor’s task force examining the war said the toll was just 162 civilians and 48 Russian soldiers killed.

By Tom Lasseter
McClatchy Newspapers

The disinformation and brutality are among the lingering questions about last summer’s five-day war that President Barack Obama’s new foreign-policy team faces, and the answers will help shape U.S. relations with Georgia and, more important, with a resurgent Russia.

Eleven days before leaving office, the Bush administration signed a “strategic partnership” charter with Georgia that pledged cooperation with the former Soviet republic on defense, energy security and democratic development but made no specific U.S. commitments. To what extent Obama follows through may hinge on how the new president interprets the events of the Russia-Georgia war.

Russia’s false allegations of genocide paved the way for what now appear to be war crimes: Protected by Russian tanks, South Ossetian militias looted and torched Georgian villages in an attempt to “cleanse” ethnic Georgians from the small mountainous region of South Ossetia.

“Clearly, torture, execution, rape, these are war crimes,” said Giorgi Gogia, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Georgia who said that his organization had documented that behavior by South Ossetians.

In addition, Gogia said, Russian forces in many cases participated in the looting and burning of ethnic Georgian homes or stood by as their South Ossetian counterparts did so. At least 17 ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia were “pretty much razed to the ground,” according to Gogia, a conclusion bolstered by satellite imagery from the United Nations. More than 20,000 ethnic Georgians are said to have fled to other parts of the country.

The South Ossetian fighters, who were or should have been under Russian control, tortured at least four Georgian military prisoners of war and executed three others, Gogia said.

“As an occupying power in Georgia, Russia failed overwhelmingly … to ensure law and order,” Gogia said.

Read the rest:


Signals To Obama: Back Off

December 13, 2008

People like Russian leaders Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seem to be sending a message to President-elect Barack Obama.

The message might be interpreted as this: America has been too pushy and it’s time to back off.

Testing O's spine in Europe.
Medvedev: Testing O’s spine in Europe?

Today, Russia recaptured the village of Perevi near South Ossetia in Georgia. 

“The Russians deployed a battalion of special forces with helicopters and armor and told the Georgian policemen to get out immediately,” said Shota Utiashvili, a Georgian ministry spokesman.

Russian troops had previously stopped EU ambassadors from visiting Perevi.  The European Union is monitoring the cease-fire in the region.

The Russian action seems to have been a signal to Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili and President-elect Barack Obama.  The U.S., Russians say, has been unfairly siding with the Georgians in the dispute with Russia.

Paul Haven of the Associated Press wrote, “Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chose the day after Barack Obama’s election victory to brandish a threat of ballistic missiles.”

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. Just hours after Barack Obama’s election, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.  Medvedev later backed away from the threat. (AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also seems to be speaking directly to Obama.

“The crimes being committed by the Zionist regime [Israel] are happening because it is aware that it has reached the end of the line and will soon fade away from the earth,“ Mehr news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during an anti-Israeli rally in Tehran.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A senior Iranian cleric described President-elect Barack Obama on Friday as a novice who was adopting old U.S. tactics of “deception and fraud,” underscoring Iran’s skepticism about prospects for change in U.S. policy.

President-elect Obama has a lot of good instinct, intelligence and information.  His advisors like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and nominated Bational Security Advisor James Jones are first rate.

The new President Obama is likely to be tested, and not just challenged, in the months after he is sworn into office….

Russia Retakes Georgian Village Near South Ossetia, Georgia In New Provocation

Iran’s Ahmadinejad is at it again; predicts Israel’s end

Foes ready to test Obama overseas

Foes warned off ‘testing’ Obama

Russia Retakes Georgian Village Near South Ossetia, In New Provocation

December 13, 2008

Russian troops retook a village near the breakaway region of South Ossetia Saturday just hours after withdrawing, Georgia’s Interior Ministry and European Union peace observers said.

The move drew criticism from Georgia, the EU and U.S. Senator John Kerry, who was on a half-day visit to Tbilisi.

Georgian police had already moved into Perevi on Saturday to remove Russian-built roadblocks when Russian troops and helicopters unexpectedly returned, said Shota Utiashvili, a ministry spokesman.

“They left, and we went in with about 40 people to remove the roadblocks,” he said. “While they were doing this, the Russians deployed a battalion of special forces with helicopters and armor and told the Georgian policemen to get out immediately,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry refused immediate comment and South Ossetian officials could not be immediately reached.

By MATT SIEGEL, Associated Press Writer

A Russian armoured vehicle drives through the Georgian village ... 
A Russian armoured vehicle drives through the Georgian village of Kvemo-Achebeti in August 2008. Georgia has said that hundreds of Russian troops have moved into a disputed Georgian village near the rebel region of South Ossetia after previously appearing to be pulling out of Perevi.(AFP/File/Dmitry Kostyukov)

The European monitoring mission, which is observing an EU-brokered cease-fire, quickly issued a statement calling on Russia to pull back once more.

“The renewed Russian military occupation of the Perevi checkpoint, and in addition, the Perevi village, is incompatible with the provisions of the … peace plan,” the statement said.

The mission added that it was unacceptable that Russian troops had stopped EU ambassadors from visiting Perevi.

Kerry, in Tbilisi to meet with the government, the opposition and President Mikhail Saakashvili, addressed reporters at the airport before leaving.

Read the rest: