Saturday, August 16, 2008

GEORGIA UPDATE -- August 16, 2008 4:15 PM PDT --
Increased risk for nuclear confrontation as Poland and Ukraine feel the sting

Things have passed exactly as forecast in my first report. Looking beneath the headlines the situation is developing in a way that is guaranteed to produce a major "no turning back" confrontation rather than a softening of tensions. I pray for sanity on both sides.

Not only have Russian troops not started any kind of withdrawal, they are consolidating their positions and apparently advancing an agenda that will leave Georgia nearly debilitated as a nation when and if they do decide to leave. [Ed: Mike's original had a Freudian typo of Georgia as GeorgiE. When I pointed it out to him, he replied "oohhhhh."] The Russians have destroyed the Meteki-Grkalibridge in east-central Georgia, a key railway and vehicle bridge serving both as a conduit for supplies from the Black Sea port of Potiand for refugees fleeing war-torn areas of the country. The Russians have also started "massive" forest fires in the Borjomi Gorge Russian troops have made no attempt to leave Gori, and remain as close as 25 miles to the capital of Tbilisi. Russian helicopters have intentionally started massive forest fires in and around the Borjomi Gorge, setting as yet uncounted thousands of acres ablaze. Russian combat air patrols have prevented Turkish firefighting aircraft from rendering assistance. The Russians have also set up roadblocks and checkpoints along key roadways inside the country, slowing the flow of aid relief convoys and other commerce. All of this is in "violation"of the cease-fire accord, signed (tongue-in-cheek) by Russian President Dimtry Medvedev yesterday.

These new aggressive Russian actions came after U.S. allies Poland and Ukraine hastily signed missle-defense agreements with the U.S this week as the Bush administration struggled vainly to make some show of authority. That move backfired and only aggravated Moscow as today's developments demonstrate. Almost instantly Poland caved in and said that it would allow Russian inspections of the (U.S.) missile interceptor base that is proposed. I'm not sure this was in the original U.S. plan for the bases.

Meantime, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the cease-fire "seemed to be holding" and President Bush's latest quote on CNN is that Russia has put its "aspirations at risk." -- Huh?

This gets curioser and curioser, and much more dangerous with each passing swing of the U.S. fly swatter at an angry bear. As usual, the first to suffer are U.S. allies in the region. That object lesson is not lost on Europe.


Here's my take on what the Russians are saying in a uniquely Russian way. (This is not a real letter, although it could be.)

Dear George Bush and Dick Cheney:

So, you do not wish to accept the genrous terms we offered. OK, then. We will destroy the bridge over which Tbilisi receives most of its supplies from the west. There will be food shortages in the capital and plenty of other shortages as well. The capital city will soon be functioning only at maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of its pre-invasion state. Try to plan and execute something in that environment. It will also cut travel and communication between key areas of the country and it will lock refugees out of less-"stressed" areas. It will not hinder our movements at all but displaced persons will cripple yours. Should the BTC pipeline need repair for any future damages you will not be able to get the materiel and equipment to it. Only we will, and BP will come begging to us for assistance.

We will start forest fires in regions where you or your puppet Saakashvili might like to hide troops, tanks and anti-aircraft artillery. And if Turkey or any other NATO country tries to send aid we will block it, thus proving that NATO is ineffective for the protection of Georgia or any other part of Europe east of Gdansk in the North and Sofia in the South. We will leave Georgia in our own time and in our own way. And when we do leave, we will leave behind an invalid, incapapble of funtcioning without billions of dollars of your aid. You have so much money to spend now don't you? Your own bridges are falling down because you cannot afford to repair them. You are broke and your nation is tired of war after seven years. We are happy to sign your paper so that you may tell your people and your allies that you are doing something but you are only fashioning the noose with which you are hanging yourselves. We are happy to give you all the rope you need for this purpose. It is good, strong Russian rope. You talk -- and we will continue to act in a Russian way that has been feared and respected throughout Europe since the Tsars.

You threaten to kick us out of the G8? We are terrified! Britain, France, Germany and Italy depend upon our natural gas to keep from freezing. And Japan buys oil from us as well. The winter is fast approaching and it could be very cold this year. Very cold. We shut down gas exports to the Ukraine a few years ago and this proved that we could shut down all of Europe.

It is no secret that our military doctrine calls for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in a potential confrontation with you. This is how we protect against your oh-so-expensive precision guided munitions. You know and we know that we have them in South Ossetia andAbkhasia now.

So what are you doing America? Keep aggravating us and we will continue to punish those countries in the region who support you. You are backing yourselves and, unfortunately us too, into a corner where we both will have to dust off our launch codes. We do not think you really want to do this. We, on the other hand, are Russian.

Perhaps Vice President Cheney will have a heart attack on his way to push the button. We doubt that President Bush can find it.

Have a nice day,


Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev


Iran to Launch Its First Satellite by Next Weekend
Saudi Arabia Invited to Build Refineries in Turkmenistan
Turkey Faces Tough Task in Energy as Map in Caucasus is Redrawn
Nuclear Georgia
While Aide Advised McCain, His Firm Lobbied for Georgia
Before the Gunfire, Cyber-Attacks
"They said the command and control server that directed the attack was based in the United States and had come online several weeks before it began the assault."
Suspected US Missile Strike in Pakistan
Sudden Order for Posada to Stand Trial



whistlingGrizzlyBear said...

Setting forest fires ? That f'ing sucks.

I had built up a notion that the Russians had some civility as a culture when the US is not breathing down their necks.

I actually had some respect for Putin.

I think a lot of people were on the fence, Georgia vs. Russia. Destroying the Georgian countryside does not help Russia's case.

Is there any doubt about who is setting the fires ?

The US benefits from Russia looking bad - it builds support for tough talk (if any support was needed in the Bush-Cheney-Rice White House).

petroleum is abiogenic said...

I read that some intelligence researchers think Dick and Bush are not really in charge since the last few months and that Zbigniew Brzezinski is calling the shots with his minions Gates, Rice, Mullen, and others and his aim is to try to get conflicts started between China and Russia by cutting off China's oil sources.

Why would Russia care about the the BTC oil? It's not as though they need oil or future customers for their oil and gas and the Caspian basin doesn't have much oil compared to other sources from what I've read.

What about the "ethnic cleansing"/genocide of the 2,000 South Ossetians civilians by Saakashvili and his GeorgiEn mercenaries? Saakashvili is basically a dictator, installed by CIA run National Endowment for Democracy, who imposed martial law. It's in the interest of the Georgians to have the Russians remove him and try him for war crimes.

I think if the Russians are not withdrawing it might be because they need evidence of US complicity cause this will happen again and again with the next neighboring state.

There are some other sources of news which is hardly mention to find out what is happening on the ground and that's the people of Georgia and Russia. They are both Orthodox Christians and I doubt they care about geopolitics rather than their common peaceful survival and coexistence.

cornsilk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mateusz said...

As a Polish-American living currently in Poland I thought it would be useful to shed some views and clarifications here:

1. Ukraine is not a party to Missile Shield. It is to be placed in Czech Republic (radar) and Poland (interceptors).

2. The negotiated deal included placing Patriot batteries in Poland (as a countermeasure to direct threat to the mere presence of the shield brings), and (unofficially) to the Russian short range missile batteries stationed in Kalingrad. The deal also includes unspecified help for the modernization of the Polish Army (which is set to be 100% professional by 2009, nad numbers around 130,000).

3. Russian government was invited to set up controls of the site by the Polish and American governments some time ago already, at least since January 2008.

On the Georgian conflict:

1. What maybe did not make the news in the States is that over recent months Ossetians were pushing Georgians in many ways. Attacking their convoys, killing their soldiers...intensifying this recently to lure Georgians into the attack result of which we can see today.

2. Besides Mr. Sarkozy, the presidents in the coalition of 5 nations (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Ukraine) [toggether respresnting over 225 million people]
went to Tbilisi just as Sarkozy was in Moscow. Especially Mr. Kaczynski, President of Poland, was very aggressive and assertive in his speech denouncing Russian attack.

3. Notion of Russian Forces as civilized bringers of peace is very far-fetched. What perhaps didn't make the news in the States are the videos (from Bank and store security cameras) of Ossetian and Russian forces robbing banks and plundering pretty much anything they can get hands on.

4. Even if officially denied by Russian Army, such practices are officially condoned by their surrogate militias. (This from a statement by Russian general).

5. The often repeated information that Georgians killed 2000 civilians in one night of attacks on militias in Cchinvali (ossetian capital), which is the reason for Russian invasion, is yet to be independently confirmed.

6. However, it might never be, as reporters and journalis continue to be shot at (Georgian newswomen, and Turkey television crew filmed being attacked while in MARKED press vehicle)

7. While such news reports might be terribly onesided, there is a lot of surivor accounts of Georgian refugees fleeing from Russian and Ossetian forces, and leaving burned down homesteads, left with nothing.

I am bringing all this to Your attention, not because I am a fan of Uncle Sam's power games. But because there are just some notions that Westerners might never grasp, simply because they have never, in any generation, experiened it.

For countries in the former Soviet Bloc, a greedy and powerfull ally that is across the ocean, is much better choice than a greedy and barbaric Bear that is across their border.

For us, the images and accounts that are coming from Georgia bring back memories either our own, or as recounted by our parents or gradnparents, of Soviet occupation, of the intense brutality of these times, and of incredibly barbaric and at the same time incredibly simple-minded Russian soldiers.

Here, Soviets are a worse memory then Hitler.

As much as I have learned to read the roadmap, I have to admit, this one thing is extremely difficult for me. To not let the prejudice (toward Russian leadership), justified or not, cloud the analysis of the situation.

Mateusz said...

Re: Why Russia cares about BTC oil?

1. Georgia was the only country to offer alternative transit routes for caspian oil.

2. Baku (Azarbaijan), was the only other significant oil exporter from the region beside Russia. The Azeris sent their oil through BTC, but that is now offline.

3. Alternatively Azeris tried to supply the market by loading oil on rail and sendiing it toward seaport Poti. But Russians blocked the port, and destroyed the only railway bridge that connected the two.

4. Baltic states + Poland + Ukraine (same nations that met Russian invasion with strong reaction, and sent their presidents to Tbilisi)+ Georgaia + Azarbajian signed a deal to built a new pipeline bypassing Russia that would involve oil from Azarbaijan, existing pipelines in Georgia, and building new pipelines through Ukraine and Poland. Idea: gain a bit of energy independence from Russia.

5. Point Made: Only Russia can supply and transfer oil in a dependable and safe manner from the region.

Mateusz said...

Ukraine offers ex-soviet tracking stations to the West

businessman said...

When I read the news about the United States striking a deal to deploy their missiles in Poland I found myself thinking, "I wonder if Russia will reopen discussions with Cuba about deploying their own missiles there?"

BulcsĂș said...

"For countries in the former Soviet Bloc, a greedy and powerfull ally that is across the ocean, is much better choice than a greedy and barbaric Bear that is across their border."

Yeah. In 1939 Poland allied themselves with the UK an then ran over. The UK thanked the poles by overturning them to soviet rule.
I am sorry, but this strategy is suicidal.

Fabio said...

Bulcsu is right. Regardless of how they really feel about the Russian bear, the countries of eastern Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia, if they want to survive, should get down on their knees, pucker up and plant a big wet one on the beast's furry behind.

When Finland stood up to the USSR in 1939, it received a bad mauling (continuing the ursine metaphor). But ever since then, they have been exemplarily sensible in their dealings with Russia. Their method? A healthy respect for their giant neighbor combined with a strict commitment to neutrality, and no attempt to reclaim a slice of territory lost to Russia. Today Finland is peaceful, free and quite prosperous.

Now didn't Condoleeza Rice or some other Bush administration jackass say something about fearing that Georgia would become another Finland? Oh, the horror...

mrs p said...

On speaking RUSSIAN to Bushco & Dick, MCR letter is insightful genius. Ya-vul! (sp)
Pass the Vodka, mrsp