Can the Caucasus flames be controlled?

August 11, 2008

ossetia.jpgThe Caucasus tinderbox is alight again. How far will the flames spread this time and what can the outside world – the United States, the European Union, NATO – do to extinguish them?

The strategic significance of this mountainous region stretches back through history.

To the west lies the Black Sea, to the east the Caspian, to the south the Mediterranean, Iran and Turkey.

In the past Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and the Russian tsars struggled to control its trade routes. Today Russia and the West are competing for influence over its energy pipelines carrying Caspian oil to world markets.

The Caucasus’ blue mountains and fiercely independent people have caught the imagination of Russian writers, Lermontov and Tolstoy. It has created only headaches for political leaders.

Georgia’s pro-Russian breakaway region South Ossetia is the latest battle ground in a long-running conflict.

Will the fighting, involving Russian and Georgian troops end there, or will another of Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia seize the opportunity to press its claim for autonomy?

And what of Chechnya, a thorn in Russia’s side for nearly two centuries. Moscow sent in the troops to bring Chechnya to heel in 1994 and again in 1999. Will it try again to free itself of Moscow’s influence?

And what can the international community do to end the fighting. Dependent on Russian oil and gas, Europe has little or no room for manouevre. The United States has provided vocal backing of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, but he would be misguided to expect more. So who can put out the flames?


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In response to Russia’s illegal actions, why doesn’t the Bush Administration get tough and:

Recall US diplomats from Moscow to Washington, and expel Russian diplomats in the US?

Encourage Americans to not travel to Russia or to buy anything from Russia — until the battles are peacefully solved?

Have President Bush admit that he was wrong months ago when he publicly stated that he could easily judge Putin’s demeanor and know that he was a good man. Wrong!

Posted by Michael J | Report as abusive

Shades of Nazi invasion of the sundatenland. Same excuse, same response by Western countires. Only difference is that Georgia is not in the middle of Europe.

Posted by verbage | Report as abusive

Georgia should recede and pay urgently REPARATIONS for destroyed Tshinval city and the killed old man/woman/child.
500000 $ for each killed old man/woman/child.
And 100 000 000 $ on repair the cities of Tshinval. Also should return all grasped hostages – living + not crippled (as Georgians like it to do).

?? Georgia will pay MORE – if will disagree on a reparation.

Posted by Lucky | Report as abusive

Who said Kosovo’s unique? A precedent cannot but be a precedent even if the State Dep wishes it so. And who said that it is only allowed to the West to aplly hypocricy in international relations? The Russians seem to be applying the NATO-style rhetoric quite smoothly.

It would have been stupid of Russia to let such a chance pass by when Saakashvili has willfully got himself and his country into a trap. Probably he was encouraged by Americans but has screwed the things up. Thus even the “international community” cannot come out with a unanimous and resolute condemnation of Russia so far for it is too clear who has brewed it all.

Posted by Beorscealc | Report as abusive

Hoping that the USA and Bush would be harder on Russia will do little but cause false hope.

The USA trained the Georgia Troops and why you might as? seems their is allot of Oil running through Georgia. People are dying in various places around the world and the only countries getting any help from the USA are countries that have natural resources the USA can plunder.
They went to Iraq to help the people.(oil)Iran is now in their sights and why? to bring democracy? truth is because Iran is the 4th largest exporter of oil in the World. Afghanistan is full of natural gas. HMMMMM see a pattern.

SO sitting in your chair and pointing blame at Russia is very easy but to talk with facts an blame the Nation that has caused this problem will separate the men from boys.
The USA is pissed at Russia over Iran so they mess with Russia through Georgia and do you really think that Russia will let this transgression pass with out sending a message.
The people of Georgia should be upset with the USA nation and the globe should condemn them.

Posted by Jose | Report as abusive

Georgia is to blame for the conflict , it is responsible for the genocide of Ossetian people when they invaded Tshinval city and now they are asking West to preserve their “democratic ” country from Russians, people are not well informed about that conflict at all, they think that Russia is the agressor

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive


Posted by DERRICK | Report as abusive

Russia just repeats what US and NATO did in Kosovo and Iraq. Nothing new. Obvoiusly they did tehir homework well and learnd the lesson from the western powers how to act.

Posted by Misty | Report as abusive

US and NATO are not in a position to do much except giving vocal warnings to Russia. This battle is much more then for people of South Ossetia. Georgia is trying to be NATO member and Russia will not accept a NATO member so close to it.

Posted by Nitin Jain | Report as abusive

The best diplomatic effort is to eliminate Russia’s membership from UN Security Council. Russia is bully and understands only tough language.

Posted by Central Asian man | Report as abusive

Russia stop cooperation with Cuba after Soviet Union collapsed.
But americans are puting themselves in Ucraine, Georgia,
Poland, Czech Rep.,Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc…
It seems that economical and political puisance of Rusia is simply not tolerable for U.S.
Now Russia must set military bases in Cuba and Venezuela, and let’s see how american people will like this.
Real danger in the world is american international politics, which sponsored monsters like Bin Laden.

Posted by jossua levin | Report as abusive

Introducing Georgia to the US public with an utterly ruthless bombardment of the civilian population of Tskhinvali was extremely stupid, especially at the start of the Olympics. In response the US public could well demand the US pull its troops out of Georgia and terminate any military aid, and I would also guess Georgia should now forget any NATO bid.

Posted by Chris Baker | Report as abusive

It is easy – Georgia lets Ossetians and Abkhazians decide for themselves, gives them back their land they were living in for centuries, alongside Georgian neighbors, not killing (not to say bombing) anyone. And then Georgia will join NATO, construct that priceless pipeline and become rich and respected member of the European civilization. After 1992 and 2008 atrocities neither Ossetia, not Abkhazia will agree to stay with the people, who celebrated in the streets of Tbilisi artillery shelling of defenseless Tskhinvali. It resembles the way Palestinians dance and sing every time they blow up another bomb in Izrail. And Georgians were heartily greeting the killings of Christians, their brothers. And Western world reaction to what is going on clearly shows that all your words about ‘democratic values’ are meaningless.

Posted by Olga | Report as abusive

To protect Sudet Germans Hitler grabbed Czechoslovakia. To protect a bunch of bandits with Russian passports Stalin… I am sorry Putin is grabbing Georgia. Europeans can not understand, that Russia needs them to buy Russian oil and gas as much as Europe needs oil and gas. Russia is a huge Venezuela armed by nuclear weapon stolen from USA after WW2. We are witnessing now the result of the European “bravery” rejecting Georgia and Ukraine NATO membership. Wake up before it is too late. WW2 started by European coward ness.

Posted by Isay Goltman | Report as abusive

Dear All! Georgian military forces attacked the city of Zhinvali without any prior notification. City was ruined by Georgian fire! More than 1500 people dead because of stupid attack from Georgian side! More than 30000 flew the region! There is no truth on the most of public European mass media sources! There is a real humanitarian catastrophe in the S. Osetia. Shame on US, shame on UN.. What is going on in this crazy world, where ordinary people may be killed at their exploded hoses because of one crazy man (Saakashvili) orders? Have you seen Georgian tank flatted running woman? Have your heard children groans under the crashed houses? Welcome to S. Osetia. Come and ask witnesses. Wake up, WORLD! This is not that point we wanted to reach…

Posted by svk | Report as abusive

Shame for the leaders of Grate civilized countries ! I mean first of all Germany, Italy, and US with Grate Britain. They showed their cowardice, narrow-mindedness and self-interest in their international affairs.

They just pulled their tongues in and put tail between their legs. They even can’t see how depended they became on Russia, for a short period of time. Now Russia is killing Georgia then they’ll kill Ukraine. The next will be Europe put under control.

The leaders of Russia are greedy business men striving for power with no human morale and democratic values. They cultivate separatism in a neighbouring Ukraine, furtively support fascism within its boarders The civilized world is under danger.

Posted by Raaassotto | Report as abusive

I totally agree with previous (above)comment. I hardly can understand the stupid behavior of US (and UN also…) in this situation… Just interesting what sort of benefits they’re going to seize by supporting Tbilisi. Meanwhile, I want to emphasize that “utterly ruthless bombardment of the civilian population of Tskhinvali” (caused more than 1500 civilians dead) was initiated from Georgian side! Normally it may be considered as a real offence!

Posted by ?lifford K. | Report as abusive

Bad gamble on Georgian part. Bad result for both Russia and Georgia. The real victims are the people on the ground. Retarded geopolitical games for dubious result.
The developed democracies should immediately provide humanitarian help to all affected in the fighting.

Posted by SeeEyeDog | Report as abusive

Read Alexander Litvinenko’s book ‘Blowing up Russia’ and you will understand what Putin and his cohorts are capable of doing to their neighbours.

Posted by john in cheshire | Report as abusive

The Russians have rightfully raised the question of whether the Georgian military has committed egregious war crimes in Tskhinvali and neighboring villages in South Ossetia, a blatant violation of international law. Therefore the US, Europe and Russia should agree that once fighting has ended in South Ossetia, then international war crime investigators should be immediately dispatched to document the evidence for international war crimes. However under international law Georgian President Saakashvili can’t be arrested for committing war crimes until he leaves office, which means that the Russians will also have to agree to negotiate with him while he remains in power.

Posted by Chris Baker (US) | Report as abusive

It is time to let the Russians know there is a line they are crossing! If they do not agree to pull back, then allow Georgia into NATO immediately and send a NATO peacekeeping force. The Russian leadership will find itself villified like Hitler before WW2, if they do not start to act like the superpower they profess to be. History always repeats itself. This time it is Mr. Putin.

Posted by rick zimmerman | Report as abusive

DERRICK explains that US would devastate Russia. How very true. Unfortunately, this means that US would be equally devastated as Russia is also not Iraq and has sufficient amount of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons to lay waste on any and all countries in the world. Just like US. So Derric, what do you propose, 3rd world war?
Saakashvili gambled badly and unfortunately he is not likely to pay the price, but the soldiers and civilians on both sides. He broke promises, both written and spoken not to use force to bring back Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Posted by SK | Report as abusive

At first glance this is a scary situation but in reality how can Bush say anything about Russia when Bush has invaded a country that was not threatening the US (Iraq).

Posted by Neal | Report as abusive

Georgia is to blame for the conflict , it is responsible for the genocide of Ossetian people when they invaded Tshinval city and now they are asking West to preserve their “democratic ” country from Russians, people are not well informed about that conflict at all, they think that Russia is the agressor
Georgia can be blamed for the humanitarian disaster in Tskhinvali, but not for the whole conflict. Russia has been cynically manipulating S. Ossetia and Georgia to this point for years.

How do we know? Consider the condition of the roads across the border from N. Ossetia to S. Ossetia. Is it one narrow road, or two? I forget just where the Kori tunnel is. But either way, it was impossible for Russia to get so many tanks and troops into S. Ossetia so quickly unless they were already prepared for this.

That is why I am not the only Western observer to notice that they have been manipulating and planning for this. They baited him, and that hot-head Saakashvili foolishly swallowed the bait.

Posted by Matt J. | Report as abusive

DERRICK explains that US would devastate Russia. How very true. Unfortunately, this means that US would be equally devastated as Russia is also not Iraq and has sufficient amount of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons to lay waste on any and all countries in the world.

Both of you are forgetting: we know now that even a small number of warheads will do serious, long-term damage to the entire Earth’s atmosphere. What? Don’t you like to breathe?

Posted by Matt J. | Report as abusive

Dear Matt,
I thought that was precisely my idea. Sorry if I have not been clear on that.

Posted by SK | Report as abusive

………. “to use force when dealing with any attempt to stage ..(replace)……, and to open fire, shoot to kill and destroy any criminal who attempts to cause turmoil. We will not spare bullets against these people.”

This is the Mr.Mihail Sakasvili you wont hear from on CNN.

Posted by J.F Sebastian | Report as abusive

Forgive me if I need some clarity, Isn’t Georgia the same breakaway republic from the soviet union with the SECOND largest(behind Russia) stockpile of Nuclear weapons? I seem to recall they possessed quite a large supply before the disarmament started and doubt they got rid of them all. If I lived anywhere near that area and Russia decides not to back off, I would plan to move and quickly. Whether Russia was aiding a breakaway or using it as an excuse really doesn’t matter now. All it takes is an act of desperation by a leader it seems everyone agrees is a hothead. Surprised there is no more commentary along these lines as it seems allowing Iran to have One causes apoplexy among many UN representatives.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

All it seems to be arranged by the two main actors in the Big Game, after the last NATO summit this year…
Yes, I’m talking about Bush and Putin…
Remember the Bush sr.’s bad joke with the Iraqis, in the first Gulf War? The one with shiites – how US will support them against Sadam? It’s the same here…
Like father like son.

Posted by Thrakian | Report as abusive

The lifeblood of Russia is at stake. Oil and Gas have pumped up the Russian economy. Georgia is essential to Russia. South Ossetia is just a red herring for Moscow. The lives of those living in the Georgian Republic are in Moscow’s view simple pawns. The pawns will be sacrificed to ensure Medvedev,Putin and Moscow’s power structure remain in control.

You scoff, laugh or even think ” this guy is one of those conspiracy nuts.” First, let me ask you to pull up a map of the regions oil and gas pipelines. I suggest the University of Texas library map of Caspian Sea Oil and Gas pipelines however, goggle this areas oil and gas pick the one you like.

Now look at the map of Georgia and surrounding regions. Note just to the east of Georgia is Chechnya. Look at all the existing and planned pipelines. This war in Georgia is about control of those pipelines. Yeah, sure, protection of the population, democracy, or on the other side lives of Russian citizens and their rights play a part in this war. But, the part is small or secondary to the Oil and Gas for Moscow and maybe even Georgia and it’s allies.

Russia controls the flow of Gas to much of Europe with the pipelines. Moscow has already used this control in the past few years in Europe cutting of the supply of gas to one of it’s former states. France, Germany and others in europe will dissent against the war in Georgia but not too much. Why?

Think about it now, be honest with yourself. People are dieing as you think and I write. I do not care if you are European, American, Russian, or from elsewhere. The reality is harsh, ugly and painful.

Here it is:

1. Moscow will not allow it’s control over the smooth flow of oil and gas to be controlled by anyone other than Moscow!
2. Europe would be hurt badly if Moscow tightened the screws on oil and gas flow to France, Germany etc. This means some political indignation will be allowed by European nations but not too much.
3. America although an ally of Georgia and defender of budding democracies will do essentially nothing! Why? The president is a lame duck not long for office therefore unless American lives are taken or threatened nothing happens but loud talk and words of indignation. The other reason is American forces are tied down in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, etc. Additionally,this battle if joined by America would be one of very extended supply lines with a mix of tired Reserve and regular forces.
4. NATO would go into this with one hand tied behind it’s back and further hampered by the United Nations.
5. The United Nations is a paper tiger tied up by it’s member nations and a very confused internal bureaucracy. It will do nothing except posture, bluster, and talk in the misnamed security council.

Georgia is doomed. President Mikheil Saakashvili is in trouble along with his countrymen and women.The sad part is Moscow knows this, President Bush and his european counterparts know it.

Moscow will retain control of the pipelines while a flegling deomocracy dies along with innocent women and children. There is no white knight coming, the calvary is involved elsewhere and quiet blackmail by Moscow ensures no one will get involved.

Posted by xmilitary | Report as abusive

>They baited him, and that hot-head Saakashvili >foolishly swallowed the bait.

The important question is the following. Russia makes very serious allegations that on Saakashvili’s orders sleeping civilians in the city of 20,000 were bombed at night by heavy artillery and GRAD multiple rocket launchers, resulting in over 1,000 civilian deaths. Gruesome images from Tskhinvali with dead civilians in their underware killed/burnt alive while slleping and running for cover shown on russian TV seem to support the claim. Hence, the issue clearly deserves thorough international investigation.

If confirmed, these allegations might prove that Saakashvili commited crimes of the same scale as those who ordered bombing of Sarajevo and therefore should join Karajic in Hague. Why is this issue totally missed by the international community?

Posted by Egor, NY | Report as abusive

Hmm, seems Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had the missiles. Georgia was merely a launch site for mid-range missiles aimed at parts of Europe. Still 39,000 warheads reduced to 2,600 supposedly. Did all of Georgia’s launchers make it out during all the turmoil or will we be surprised if mushroom clouds begin to appear? The premise remains if not the large number of weapons.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

>Consider the condition of the roads across the border from N. Ossetia to S. Ossetia
======================================== ====
Matt, the road is in a terrible condition – a long tunnel, one lane each way, the tanks were breaking down, blocking the traffic, etc. That’s why it actually took some 48 hrs for any serious Russian force to show up at Tskhinval.
Russia did not want the bloodshed/war. It’s another matter that now we are apparently trying to take it too far (i.e. destabilize Saakashvili and force him out)… I sincerely hope the tanks will stop where they are, i.e. around Tskhinval. This is what seems to be happening, anyways, and hopefully the shooting will die out in a matter of a couple of days…

Posted by Nikolai | Report as abusive

This will be over and forgotten within six weeks, unless it was a covert action to get a little war started by the Bush cabal to try and help get McCain elected.

When G.W. Bush said Georgia wasn’t standing alone, just how did he think he’d provide air or naval aid to Georgia? From Turkey? How did G.W. Bush expect to provide troop support? Across what air space? Oh, that’s right. G.W. Bush has been kept in power by the American Evangelical Christians, that bunch uneducated people who believe in miracles. G.W. Bush was counting on a miracle.

Next time, before a world leader counts on U.S. support, that world leader might want to check and see if the American Evangelicals have elected another fool in their own image.

Posted by Jumper | Report as abusive

The Russians planned this in advance. Massive troop concentrations in the border, advancing armor divisions with thousands of soldiers, screaming jetfighters covering the advance, pincer movement by the Russian, naval blockade, cyber attacks. What’s next? Raising the Russian flag atop the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi?

Posted by VaL WoLF | Report as abusive

The Russians knew all along that most of countries in NATO don’t have the nerve to confront them in the battlefield. And they already expected it that the most these countries can do is to complain the Russian tactics, demand troop withdrawal, issue threats. Security Council should be abolished, it’s not functioning right now.

Posted by VaL WoLF | Report as abusive

The US must stop Russia NOW! I understand that are forces are thin right now, but remember Georgia has been with us 6 years, 6 YEARS! in Iraq! fought along side are men and women we must not just threaten Russia with hollow words, we have tried that and they do not listen they will understand force! I will be the first one in line at the recruitment office to go (back in) to the service if we do! We must NOT TURN OUR BACK ON GEORGIA! they are everything we the American people swore to protect! and we must they are our friend and allies! Also to the people who think that Georgia killed 1500+ civilian’s in S.Ossetia are wrong they killed 10! Russia killed that many and more when they began targeting civilian targets in Georgia!
We must encourage are politicians to act now before its to late!

Posted by mike kruse | Report as abusive

I believe what neither Georgian people nor Russians and Osetians wanted the war. However it was saakashvily who initiated the hostilities. Just after his assurance of everlasting peace georgian troops started shelling South Osetia capital which didn’t have any military importance, but was inhabited by peaceful civiliants as you and me! I want to emphasize that the bombardment was made from volley-fire systems which can’t be targeted at military units presicely and shoots on squares and as a consequence causes huge number of victims.
WHAT FOR THIS MASSACRE???? It is the only thing I am wondering if Saakashvili didn’t want the war!!!!
All this resulted in the death ot 1 600 – 2 000 citizens of Osetia, perfidious attack on Russian peacemakers with finishing off the injured soldiers… Please take into account that about 80-90% of the Osetian people have Russian passports, i.e. they are the citizens of the Russian Federation.
And here comes another question: what reaction from Russia did saakashvili expect when it’s citizens are being exterminated?
Just try to imagine that 1 600 – 2 000 Americans or Europeans were killed villainously (but certainly I hope it will never happen). How would you react? Would there be any grade or limit to the respond? I guess nobody would dare calling this reaction disproportional in this case, as it happened after the 11th of September, 2001.
Defenately saakashvili is a criminal after all this. And he ought to be condemned the same way as former Serbian leaders are suited.

Besides, I believe Western countries make a mistake by supporting saakashvili. By the way Georgia has lots of problems with opposition suppression and freedom of media. And now this terrible attack on Osetia! Do you call it democracy? I would name it hypocrisy! Saakashvili totally sullied his reputation as a peaceful seeker if not as a person who possesses common sense. This casts aspersions on ideals of democracy in general.
But saakashvili makes friends with Washington and it forgives him everything!

And concerning revival of Soviet totalitarian ambitions and plans to conquer everyone – is it Russia who is expanding it’s military facilities and infrastructure all over the world? Just compare defense budget expenditures in US and Russia!

Posted by El Sabio | Report as abusive


Posted by WWS | Report as abusive

Looks like beating the war drum on Iran was a bit of a distraction.

Posted by john | Report as abusive

The dear people of the world! You do not be aware whole truths of war in South Osetia.Excuse me for my bad english. I have lived in Osetia 39 years and now I have to abandon my house and my country because my house crashed,my family is perished. And all this due to Saakashvili.You think he has order to bomb peace autonomous republic in a part of his country? 1600 persons perished!!! Saakashvili terrorist!!!He must be in prison!!! I love peace and liberty. I want peace and liberty!!!

Posted by Kaha | Report as abusive

The people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia want to be independent or part of Russia. If you argue for democracy, then that should be the solution, which is completely what the Russians are defending. Also the US has supported military a country with conflict borders to Russia, for sure not something that can be accepted.

Posted by simon | Report as abusive

What about the US presence in Georgia training Georgia’s troops? What about American influence for Shakasvilli to be brave enough to start up the conflict? The so called Georgian peacemakers attacked the Russian peacemakers and citizens alike, killing almost 2,000 some of them in operations which can only be likened to genicide, old people, women and children butchered.
Wake up world and take an unbiased view of this. Russia is not the aggressor here.

Posted by Jeff W | Report as abusive

Everywhere I see photos of one town – Gori, but where is destroyed S.Osetia?, may be need show people on world aerial photography of this place?

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

Georgians and their US-masters would never be forgiven for recent mass slaughter in South Ossetia. Brutal massacre of S. Ossetian civilians by Georgian army during the first days of military operation was nothing but an extreme point of man-hatred. A few examples of acts of genocide are given below.

The road from regional hub Znaur to the village of Dzhava is covered with corpses of S. Ossetian civilians – including women, elders and children. It’s still impossible to bury the dead as all moving objects in that area immediately come under fire of Georgian snipers and artillery.

Tkhsinval, August 8, 2008. According to eyewitnesses a group of S. Ossetian children was burnt alive inside two refugee’s minibuses which headed to Vladikavkaz.

The Khetagurovo massacre – another tragedy of Zharsk province. All young ladies of Khetagurovo village were kidnapped and driven away in unknown direction. Other villagers – men, women and elders were blocked in the building of local church and set on fire. Children were murdered separately. Georgians chopped children’s heads off in presence of their parents. Kidnapped girls have been raped and tortured, their genitals disfigured.

We want to believe that after all Saakashvili’s junta will face adeserved trial soon.

Posted by Lena | Report as abusive


Posted by JOHN DEAN, A REPUBLICAN FROM FLORIDA | Report as abusive

It looks like Bush Cheney & co. have found the right guys and place to check their imperialistic policy. The message is clear: by kicking Saakashvili’s ass, Putin is kicking the Americans and the Israeli out of the theater. This time the US will not be able to impose the “democratic rule of American law”. To many body bags will have to go back home.

Posted by stefan | Report as abusive

Why the western media is deliberately ignoring the fact the Georgia signed a peace pact, attacked South Osettia on the same day, killing and bombing S Osettians by the hundreds in the Capital city, without any response from any human-rights-flaunting country in Europe or North America, while at the same time keep hammering and clamoring that Russia, which responded hours after the launch of atrocities by Georgia, is to blame for the crisis?

And it is funny if you listen carefully to what the US officials said–Russia must stop fighing..Russsia must… blah blah blah–, then what about Georgia? isn’t Georgia supposed to stop fighting too?

Now, if you reflect on the remarkable similarity of this situation to Kosovo, and the equally striking tonal differences of Western countries, you will see a textbook case of hypocrisy in action.

So if China , God forbid, should follow Georgian suit in its own sometimes sessionist regions, one would like to hear whether or not US and Europe would urge the world to ‘respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty’ of China.

you are darn right, I am Chinese. but I am also a Christian who believes that one should deal even-handedly with universal application of human dignity and equitability( which is, truthfully, sometimes not so well protected in my own home country). I don’t believe I am in any position to judge, and what I do believe is that Champions of democracy and human rights should work hard to shake off the sinful disposition to double talk on doulbe standards, if they want to convince the world they are serious about those core values instead of letting down people who trust them.

Posted by Bluesville | Report as abusive

When georgians attack Tshinvali it is genocide, when russians throws bombs on civil hoses there is no bad

Posted by johany | Report as abusive


Russia had prepared because Ossetia crisis has been going on for months now. From all the evidence we can find, the Georgians initiated the escalation from small fighting to fully blown invasion of Ossetia on Thursday/Friday, right as the Olympics were starting.

If you read the current news (not the government press releases), you can see that the activities have calmed down. Russia never did take Gori (as opposed to what the Georgian government was claiming) and instead has been using the deserted town to claim that “the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!”

Read the rhetoric coming from Georgia today. Their verbiage has no other purpose than get the west to send them troops, money, and weaponry.

I’ll being to trust Georgia again when they learn to stop lying like Bush.

Posted by Markus | Report as abusive

A minor clarification to previous post:
The Georgians are using the deserted Gori which they gave up without a fight as a tool to gain world sympathy. Russia’s not taking the bait. Gori remains unoccupied.

Posted by Markus | Report as abusive

It is incredible that there are people advocating a nuclear war which would kill everybody, including those who advocate it. I can not imagine what would have happened if Georgia had been a NATO member. I think some countries in Western Europe will be tempted to quit NATO in order to avoid becoming the battlefield of the next nuclear war. No political goal is worth the lives of hundreds of million people.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

People often fail to think of how skilled the Russians are at strategic thinking. Remember that most of the great chess masters of the world were and are Russian. They are very patient and they have a LONG TERM strategic goal. We here in the “Civilized” Western world are reactionary, we tend to think short term. Certianly, the Foriegn Policy of the United States since President Reagan has been FAR too short sighted. Think of this, IRAN. Funny how this Iranian crisis is back burner now?

Does not matter how much “military might” the United States has, we were and are unwilling to defend a “friend”. How many times have we turned our backs on our friends?

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

If Russia didn’t step in to stop the Georgians wiping out the local population who would have? The Russian’s deserve congratulations.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

France is right the US is a side in this conflict and should retire from this business altogether. The US kept supplying Saakashvilli with weapons, instructing Georgia’s military forces, and eventually giving “ok” to the occupation of S.Ossetia, a region that was de-facto independent since 1992. Ossetia was divided into two parts and the S. part was granted to Georgia by Stalin, who was born in Gori, a georgian town near Ossetia, just like Khrushchev made a special gift of Crimea to Ukraine. Crimea will probably split off Ukraine rather soon, following S.Ossetia and Abhazia’s complete independence from nationalistic Georgia. After Yushenko’s support of his buddy Saakashvilli, I doubt that Russia will prolong peace agreement with Ukraine, which among other things stipulates the status of Crimea and Sevastopol. Ukraine will have to probably part with Crimea diring the next 5 years. Too bad Medvedev decided not to pursue the “regime change” in Georgia… Georgians would certainly benefit from a less blood-thirsty president. Lavrov, Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, is right insisting that “Saakashvilli must go”, this would be the best contribution to Georgia’s democracy and prosperity.

Posted by Canadian | Report as abusive

One last thing I would like to just remind everybody. Georgian president Saakashvili has ordered US trained and equipped georgian army, among other things, to fight and destroy 200 russian soldiers of the batallion stationed in South Ossetia according to valid intergovernmental agreements and under the UN mandate, who were not engaged in fighting at the time of his (Saakashvili’s) decision.
How can those georgian apologists find this to be lawful and democratic? How can you be justifying this?

Ethernal glory and god’s blessing to those russian soldiers, of whom a dousain was killed and a hundred wounded, but who stood up to a >10:1 overwhelming georgian army attacking them. Let the souls of those killed rest in peace.

Finally, about the disproportionate russian responce. Can you imagine proportionate US responce if (god forbid) Cuban army would start an action to drive their soldiers out of Guantanamo? North Koreans would overun US military base near Korea’s division line?

Posted by Egor, NY | Report as abusive

Greetings from Russia.
My comment didn’t pass moderation… Seems strange. There was no abuse, just facts as they are. May be unpleasant facts for west, but it was true.
Is that the “freedom of media” & pure democracy? Or that freedom is only for chosen?

“Control the media – control the mind”

Posted by Alexander | Report as abusive

My name is Lena. I can sae same words :

“Greetings from Russia.
My comment didn’t pass moderation… Seems strange. There was no abuse, just facts as they are. May be unpleasant facts for west, but it was true.
Is that the “freedom of media” & pure democracy? Or that freedom is only for chosen?

“Control the media – control the mind”

Why ? May be I write from Russia ?

Posted by Lena | Report as abusive

My comments did not pass moderation either. Why is it that the “Western” governments are blind and deaf to what has really happened.
Reuters, you have not only let yourselves down but all free-thinking people too.
By the way I am English, live in England but try to take all information in – not just that which the American government wants released. I am ashamed of the BBC for not reporting truthfully and accurately, I thought you were better than this.

Posted by Jeff W | Report as abusive

How does America explain the training passes allowing access to areas of Georgia for American Military shown on television yesterday. What are you doing there? As if we didn’t know!

Posted by Jeff W | Report as abusive

Well even though my comment can’t be objective cause I do belong to a side of the conflict but here is my point.
Ok, let’s forget about media war which has the most important part in this conflict. I can compare the work of mass media from both sides – Russian and Western.
To say at least – they might be more correct.
Let’s just look at the historic facts:
1) USSR broke apart in somewhere 1991. There were a lot of local conflicts after that all around the territory (ex-USSR).
2) NATO had assured Russians (Gorby) that it didn’t mean to move its forces to ex-USSR borders.
3) As result of the local conflict S. Ossetia declared it’s independence from Georgia in 1992. After heavy fights between Ossetians and Georgians Russian peacekeeping forces moved in S.Osetia under UN mandate.
But S.Ossetia’s independence was recognized by other countries at that moment. But the fact is that Georgian official didn’t have any power in S. Ossetia from that time. S.Ossetians had their own government, army and all other structures which were not under any kind of control from Georgia or any other country.
4) All this time NATO moved to Russian territory accepting East-European countries into the block one by one. Recently they announced that they are going to accept Georgia and Ukraine which has the shared frontier with Russia.
5) USA launched a series of coups (some colored revolutions) in the ex-USSR republics. Also Americans moved in their troops into some of ex-USSR republics and got the military bases there.
6) Then came the new “Star Wars” program from Bush with rockets and radars in Eastern Europe and ex-USSR countries (Pribaltics come on stage).
Also here comes the precedent in Serbia when USA and NATO forced Serbians not to resist separating Kosovo from the country.
7) A couple of years ago Georgia tried to start the war with S.Osetia but they were stopped by S.Ossetian forces without any help from outside.
8) USA started to send its military instructors there and a lot of money and modern weapons to Georgia. In several years USA armed and trained Georgian forces into one of the most battle-worthy army in the world.
9) There were a lot of local fight between S. Ossetia and Georgia during this year. Saakashvilly stated countless number of times that he is intended to force S.Ossetia and Abkhazia to go back to Georgia by all means. Everyone could predict a forthcoming war if he was interested in the situation around that region. USA and Russia were.
10) 0n August 7, 2008 Saakashvilly gave a promise in oral and written form that he is not going to offend S. Ossetia although he refused to sign a peace treaty w S.Osetia.
11) Next day (to be correct the night from 7th to 8th of August) – on the eve of Olympics Saakashvilly gave and order to start offensive action against S. Ossetia.
He informed Russian peacekeepers about that.
The local time was about midnight.
12) After that Georgian started to shell and bomb Tshinvally, the capital of S. Ossetia republic. The casualties among civilian were horrible – 1500 men, women and children. The fact is that there weren’t Russian regular forces on the stage at that moment. Only Georgians, S.Ossetians and 200 men of Russian peacekeeping forces.
13) Russia gathered UN meeting to develop some resolution about the incident in S.Osetia and called for Georgia to stop violence and military action. The local time was about 10 am. UN wasn’t able to come to any conclusion. USA stated that the situation was not clear and needed more time to understand. During the day of August 8 UN had several meetings but without any results. USA and Europe refused to call on Georgia to stop fighting in S. Ossetia.
14) At the local time about 2 pm Russia published manifest that it’s going to start the military operation to enforce Georgia to peace. There was a statement that the aim was to protect civilians (most of which had double citizenship including Russian) and its peacekeeping forces there.
15) Later this day Saakashvilly was shown on mass media stating that Russia started to invade Georgia and kill the civilians in S. Ossetia. The funny thing is he simply ignored the journalist’s question “Mr. Saakashvilly did you give an order to start shelling and bombing Tshinvally?”. But what he did was – telling a lot about how willing Georgia to follow democratic standards and how it loves freedom. How American is he. A sow his several performances on CNN, BBC and so forth.
16) After that USA and most of European countries called on Russia to “stop invading Georgia”, “Russia must pull back” (I’m not trying to ask whether someone was going to ask Georgia to pull back – money buys the truth in this world.)
17) The war itself – “don’t kill Georgians”, a looped screenplay of Russian tanks invading Georgia, bombing of Georgian cities, bombing oil pipes – on western channels and ruined S. Ossetia’s cities and villages, ethnical cleansing carried out by Georgian forces, thousands of casualties in S. Ossetia – on Russian channels.

Ok, what we have in residue:
There are a very important developments going on in Caucasus region right now. The play has started.
The first right question:
Who is interested in it? Who is it profitable for?
Yes, the region in very important – it’s close to Caspian sea with rich oil fields, it has very important pipe lines to Europe, it borders upon Iran and Russia, very close to both Iraq and Afghanistan, not far from China. An ideal place to have a military base at.
Who is interested in controlling Europe(oil and gas pipe lines), Russia, Middle East and China?
So who goes on the scene?
Yes, there are other players on the scene: Russia who historically has its interests on Caucasus and borders upon it, Iran, Europe who tries to get some influence in the region – Europe needs oil pipe independent from Russia.
But who wins most in destabilization of situation on Caucasus?

Posted by Dmitry | Report as abusive

Just to see how the West and US are telling lies here. US wanted to control Iraq (and its oil). So US invaded Iraq (who authorised that? UN? or EU countries desparately look for oil?) with excuses of terrorist & nuclear weapons(proved not true)…

Imagine this: your family is not good. Your father is hot head and none of the family members really loves him. He beats his wife, his children some times. then a strong and bullying neighbor who is looking for ways/excuses to hunt his tyrant man’s treasures. The neighbor finds an excuse: the father kills his boy. Thus the neighbor kills the father, raping wife and daughter, torturing kids and carrying home treasures! Cool. You see how many people died during Saddam Hussein times vs how many peole died during US and its ally (bully) invasion? How the US and its ally (UK? Geogia?…) justifies for what Iraqi are suffering now? Imagine if you are Iraqi! Bear in mind that the Khmer Rouge killed around 2m of its people in Cambodia in Southeast Asian in late 70s. What US and the West did to prevent that? They did NOTHING because Cambodia has no large proven oil reserves.

US and the West just show their hypocrasy for years. I am not a fan of Russia nor China nor Japan nor any countries. But I am sure US and the West keeps on telling lies and apply double standards. No one should trust big countries but count on themselves.

Poor Geogian people who has a stupid president and foolishly rely on people who keeps telling lies…

Look at the ways US and the West have done on Kosovo, Iraq, Pakistan,…. shampoo!

Posted by Dam Quang Thuan | Report as abusive

I think as each hour goes by, its becoming more and more clearer that georgian president Saakashvili has made the most disasterous political decision of his career. Only four hous ago i listened to a reporter on CNN tell the presenter that he had recieved communications from georgian officials that a deal had been agreed and that the russian convoy heading out of gori would turn north on the main road to tbilisi and not towards the capitol. Only an hour ago Mr saakashvili told CNN that the russian convoy(light tanks, apc carriers and lorries) would arrive at the capitol and that russia`s objective was to take control of georgia. 15 minutes later, what does the convoy do??? surprise, surprise it turns north as previously reported upon. So to a simple guy like me, it seems there was a deal and that its obvious Mr saakashvili is either losing his own ministers and party officials support and this guy knows he has place the noose around his own throat. If other party officials are making secret deals without his knowledge, then it seems the end of Mr Saakashvili is now dawning and political uncertainty within georgia itself.

He thought, with america`s political and military training support that he could finally crush the resistance in south ossetia and end the russian influence there. Big mistake Mr saakashvili.

I suspect that russia will now attempt to set up a de-militarised zone and a muti-national force will take over in the approaching weeks. All this talk from Mr saakashvili and many politicians in the U.S of russia taking over georgia will be proven as lies, lies and more lies in the days and weeks ahead.

The only conclusion we can make from this conflict is the following……..A georgian president intent on making south ossetia become georgian territory once more and over abusing the support of the U.S. Government so as to strengthen his power in georgia and help push towards membership of N.A.T.O. underestimating how far russia would go to prevent these.

A round of applause Mr saakashvili for making one of the biggest blunders in political history,

Posted by Stu from england | Report as abusive

This has not been a war between georgia and russia, but a war between the west and east. Russia is sending a message tothe U.S. and europe……….You have moved as close to our borders as we will allow, you have pushed us back as far as we will let you, try to force us upon our knees and risk bringing the world to the edge of a very, deep, dark abyss. I ask a question to everyone…….How would the united states of america react if its once major enemy stood only a stone`s throw away from its borders????? influencing governments, wishing to place its military forces just a hand shake away from washington. I suspect there reaction would be in much the same method.

Posted by Stu from england | Report as abusive

I just was wondering if [theoretically] it’s possible to institute criminal proceedings against Saakashvilli in European institutions? I’m not talking about USA, because all we know they have planned and organized strike to Tskhinvali. They didn’t know for sure that Russia will respond, so they tried to kill as many Ossetins, as possible. As war comes to end, more and more thinking western people start realizing the role of Saakashvilli and USA in this war.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

USA, you are disgrace for the rest World.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Dear people, for the sake of Reason and Humanity, forget about the West and Russia and the US just for a minute! For this is a real-life tragedy for us, people on the ground. And this is what really matters to us in our region, for the people on the ground, who will have their say sooner rather than later.
The criminal Georgian armada and its master and commander Saakashvili, the insane Butcher of Tskhinval, now also nicknamed as “The Man-Eater” by the Ossetians – must be held responsible for the mass (and possibly premeditated) murder of 1,500-2,000 of innocent civilians killed in their beds by those deadly weapons so generously supplied by to him NATO (those politicians and generals are even more shameless than we thought they were) and their docile servants in places like Ukraine and Poland (for they all simply hate RUSSIA and are only worried about Caspian OIL and GAS but cannot care less about Georgians, Ossetians, Abkhazians, Chechens and so on). Not to mention the shocking devastation that people have to face after four days of hostilities. Saakashvili, the true curse of the Georgian Nation, should also be made answerable to his own people for the loss of face and dignity, likely to be irreparable for many decades with the neighbours in the Caucausus, to say the least, as well as the imminent and permanent loss of territory. The “congenial and educated” Georgian leader and his “refined, smart and professional” entourage should answer for the lies, hypocricy and hatred they keep spreading to the whole world. For the smiles on his face and the faces of his Balto-Slavic allies (shame on them!) and the music played in front of thousands of people gathered (only God knows how many Georgians have been killed) in the centre of Tbilisi and the whole world. Have no illusion: those ordinary Georgians, and certainly most Georgians, are not at all as stupid as their leader and understand this. Humiliated but proud, they need consolation today, tomorrow they will demand truth and only truth. For now, they got idiotic smiles and Western fanfare and lip service diluted in the hypocricy of humanitarian aid (may God excuse me). This man must be stopped, isolated and… As he is not worthy of anything anymore.

Posted by Caucasian | Report as abusive

Can I here write a name of southossetian site ?

Posted by Lena | Report as abusive

It looks like the responses here have been taken over by Russians, Georgians and others in the afflicted area. It’s easy to see why armed conflict develops in the region just from the poisonous name calling and the narrow self serving blame the other diatribes. These would not seem to be helpful in finding a peaceful resolution. Those suffering need everyone to drop the hate mentality and use our intelligence and innate capacity for compassion to find a solution.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Neocon moron Bush got a taste of his own medicine. Finally, there is a force in the world that can resist american imperialism. At least, British robbed India and other colonies of resources. What empire are we trying to build — empire of democracy. Paying for all the moronic wars while our taxes head north and so does the national debt. As American I am glad that there are more forces of power in the world now that can oppose us, because after winning the cold war got our neocons drunk with power. While our country slowly slides into thirld world as all education and economic patterns show. May be some pressure will make us more reasonable and more competitive.

Posted by Dennis | Report as abusive

So, Poland finally signed the agreement to allow the American missles/radar defence on their territory. Call me cynical but is this why America backed Sakashwilli, trained their troops and pushed him into attacking South Ossetia – to scare the Poles who were wavering into signing?
How would Americans feel if Russia built a missle defence shield on their doorstep or has everyone forgotten Cuba? There is already a missile defence shield in place in the UK which monitors the airspace to the east, could this not have been upgraded rather than intimidate Russia by placing new installations right on their doorstep in Poland and Czech Republic just in case Al Quaida sends missiles.
Mr Bush do you think that we are all stupid?

Posted by Jeff W | Report as abusive

I would suggest everybody, who understands russian have a look at this opinion concerning Caucasian conflict.
I find it quite objective about roles and situation in SOsetia and Abhazia…

Posted by eduards | Report as abusive

This international game of chance Putin is playing is a very dangerous game???? It does not matter who started it????? Who is on who’s side??? Could this be the beging of the end Alpha Omega??? Think about it?????????ALL OF YOU Then take a lot of history lessons.because some one somewhere Will take advantage of the situation ??????????? or The evil ones in the world. Putin’s playing a very dangerous game and the people of the world will suffer.

Posted by hillbilly1 | Report as abusive

I just wonder what I would do if I were a Russian (or Russian President)? Well, I would dump war/missile weapons on Venezuela, Cuba in Latin America. The same to Syria, Iran (then Iran help the Palestine)… Shake hands w/ China elsewhere. Then help fire between India and Pakistan. Also help Taliban in Afghanistan (like US did there on Soviet). Ah, Basque in Spain/France also. China should also take advantage of this situation in Latin America, African… You may ask what about EU/NATO? Look at what they did to Gruzia… No Action, Talk Only! Brazil should also take advantage of this in Latin America. Now, we have new order of the World!

Posted by Dam Quang Thuan | Report as abusive

It is obvious that Mr. Saakashvili is a puppet. There is no doubt that his behavior is absolutely criminal. Supporting Saakashvili by the West doesn’t help to resolve the situation in Georgia. Neighbors should be friendly. Neither osetians, nor abkhazians will ever agree to reintegrate into Georgia while Saakashvili is in power. Russia is the only country that can ensure stability in this region and territorial integrity of Georgia, provided there is a friendly government in Tbilisi. That what georgian people should think about when they vote for their next president

Posted by From Caucasus | Report as abusive

I think before its too late, Russia and United States better swallow their cowboy pride before we get to a point of no return. The increasing rhetoric, and saber rattling serves nothing more the useless verbiage. Russia was wrong on invading Georgia, and they know it. It is better to let Russia save face, and let them leave quietly. I think essentially this is what they are trying to do, however if you corner a dog their first instinct is to bite in self defense. It is best for NATO, and all responsible nations such as the United States to back off, stop the unnecessary verbiage, and allow Russia to leave. I can almost bet they will leave in the middle of the night, completely un-noticed and act like nothing ever happened. I further believe they acted with out strategy, they now know this was a foreign policy monumental mistake, sort of like the Bush Administration invading Iraq without an exit plan.

Posted by Paul Walker | Report as abusive

As Georgia has grown more Westernized and leaned closer and closer to the leaning tower of NATO, many analysts think that Georgia’s people were believed, erroneously, that they lived under the shadow of NATO’s veil of protection. Now of course it has been made clear that the protection of the West extended not far beyond angry rhetoric. Not quite part of the liberalized elite circle, but not terribly far from it, Georgians must no doubt be suffering from a biting disappointment.

In a burgeoning democratic state, the support of the people for Democracy might likely be on the fringe after such a disappointment. It is not hard to imagine how disappointment might turn to bitterness, doubt, and potentially anger. Is this “mission critical” time to (re)capture the hearts and minds of a beacon of Caucasus Democracy? I believe that, indeed, this might represent an opportunity to put into action a Civil Psychology mission to Condition Democracy in the nation…

For more, look at my blog…

Posted by Conditioning Democracy | Report as abusive

everyone disscuses politics,noone mentions that innocent people died , russian soldiers killed a lot of georgians they raped georgian girls, they distroied everything, only god knows what s going to happen

Posted by salome | Report as abusive

Now US ships arrived in Georgia/Poti port. If Russians is smart enough, I think they should use their spies in Georgian army to cause a Georgian attack to Russian army. Then Russian army counter-attack.

– Then if US army supported Georgian army by attacking Russian army, Russia can make the case that US intentionally intervene or they were there not to ship aid but take part in the war (proved that they told their Georgian stupid puppets to attack Russian). Then with its strong army base around, ships, strikers, tanks, Russian army can humiliate US army easily. Then what US can do? They are stretched in Iraq, Afghanistan…no way they can win that war (with Russia). It is then apparently a failure for US/EU.

– If US do not counter-attack, Russia would prove to Georgian people that: “hey, idiots, you rely on NATO/US/EU, now what? they are here but we can kill you! They can give you money (like they did all over the world: VN, Nicaragua,Cuba, Iraq/Iran… but that’s that” Georgian people would cry for themselves!

– Then China can take advantage of this situation, they would feel they are now in much better position to do what they want to in several reasons around the world!

For what US have done on VN, Afghanistan,Iraq… after they create false/misleading excuses, their governtment serve this situation.

Posted by Dam Quang Thuan | Report as abusive