Friday, August 8, 2008

Massive Georgian military assault on South Ossetia (UPDATED!)

I am currently following the events in South Ossetia and the situation is developing very rapidly. Here is a summary of what has happened so far.

1) Georgian special forces have taken over 11 villages around the South Ossetian capital Tshinvali. They then proceeded to take over several high points around the city from were a massive artillery barrage was initiated.

2) Artillery strikes were supported by airstrikes. Images shown on Russian TV clearly show three SU-25 strike aircraft strafing positions near the HQ of the peacekeeping forces.

3) As a result of these strikes most of the city of Tshinvali is now in ruins.

4) Georgian forces have entered the city.

5) The Georgian President Saakashvili as ordered a full mobilization of Georgian armed forces.

6) Russian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia were fired upon by Georgian multiple rocket launchers; the HQ of the Russian battalion was hit, there are casualties, including fatalities.

7) There is fighting going on in Tshinvali; most of the civilians and hiding underground.

8) Russia's rep to the UNSC has called for an urgent meeting of the UNSC. The meeting took place, nothing was decided.

9) Both Medvedev and Putin have publicly promised that the Georgian agression will be defeated.

10) Cossak volunteers from various regions of southern Russia have taken the decision to send volunteers to South Ossetia.

11) At least one Russian armored column from the North Caucaus military district has entered Tshinvali today.

12) Parts of Tshinvali have been re-taken by Russian forces. Fighting still rages inside the city

In case anyone has any doubts about what is going on here: a US-financed and supported puppet regime has actually started a full-scale war against Russia (including Russian peacekeeping forces). Georgia is only a candidate for NATO membership. Can you imagine what this kind of regime will do once it enjoy the full protection of NATO?

13) Georgian "peacekeepers" have executed their wounded former Russian colleagues with whom they were supposed to jointly patrol the region and secure the peace.

14) President Medvedev has gathered the Russian Security Council and has made a live TV appearance in which is declared that he is obligated by the Russian Constitution to defend the lives and dignity of all Russian citizens regardless of their location (most South Ossetians are Russian nationals). President Medvedev has promised that those responsible for the current aggression will be punished.

15) The Russian Armed Forces have established a special headquarters near Vladikavkaz; this operational command is headed by the C-in-C of the Russian ground forces.

I will keep up updating this blog as the situation develops.

16) Following an appeal by the Mayor of Khasaviurt (Dagestan) a force of Dagestani volunteers is being formed to protect Ossetians from the Georgian invasion.

17) Statement on the Situation in South Ossetia by the Russian President Dimitry Medvedev:

As you know, Russia has maintained and continues to maintain a presence on Georgian territory on an absolutely lawful basis, carrying out its peacekeeping mission in accordance with the agreements concluded. We have always considered maintaining the peace to be our paramount task. Russia has historically been a guarantor for the security of the peoples of the Caucasus, and this remains true today.

Last night, Georgian troops committed what amounts to an act of aggression against Russian peacekeepers and the civilian population in South Ossetia. What took place is a gross violation of international law and of the mandates that the international community gave Russia as a partner in the peace process.

Georgia’s acts have caused loss of life, including among Russian peacekeepers. The situation reached the point where Georgian peacekeepers opened fire on the Russian peacekeepers with whom they are supposed to work together to carry out their mission of maintaining peace in this region. Civilians, women, children and old people, are dying today in South Ossetia, and the majority of them are citizens of the Russian Federation.

In accordance with the Constitution and the federal laws, as President of the Russian Federation it is my duty to protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they may be.

It is these circumstances that dictate the steps we will take now. We will not allow the deaths of our fellow citizens to go unpunished. The perpetrators will receive the punishment they deserve.

Reuters reports: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Friday that Russia was fighting a war with his country and that Georgians were "looking with hope" to America, but he did not specifically appeal for U.S. help. "We have Russian tanks moving in. We have continuous Russian bombardment since yesterday ... specifically targeting the civilian population," Saakashvili said in an interview with CNN. "Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory."

Russian forces rolled into Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region and were approaching its capital, Tskhinvali, on Friday, Russia's RIA news agency quoted a Russian military commander as saying.

"This was a very blunt Russian aggression. ... We are right now suffering because we want to be free and we want to be a multiethnic democracy," Saakashvili said in the interview. Saakashvili, whose country is pushing to join NATO, said the conflict "is not about Georgia anymore. It's about America, its values."

"I ... thought that America stands up for those freedom-loving nations and supports them. That's what America is all about. That's why we look with hope at every American," the U.S.-educated president said.

So there, we have it: Saakashvili is counting on the USA and NATO to military engage the Russian in defense of "American values".

19) Russian TV is reporting the following: Georgian special operation forces are being pushed back in heavy clashes with local Ossetian self-defense forces. At least three Georgian MBT and two APC have been abandoned burning in the city. Bombing raids are being observed coming from the north (which seems to hint, however indirectly, that this time Russian Air Force units might be participating in the combats). Russia has closed all air traffic between Russian and Georgia (this is not a military measure, but an economic retaliation measure - VS)