This is a video about refugees from South Ossetia.
From Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad; after describing a rally in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, by supporters of president Saakashvili [I have translated from the paper edition, 13 August 2008, page 5; slightly different from the web edition]:
One street away [from the Saakashvili meeting], people already think very differently about the victory [in the South Ossetia war; claimed at the Saakashvili meeting]. “That nutcase Saakashvili has plunged us into a war“, 60-year-old Irene Gogoladze says. “I am glad that my own son lives in Armenia”.
A bit further away, in the Republican Party headquarters, party chair Davit Usupashvili is annoyed about the hero-worship for the president as well. „The Russians have been waiting for years for a motive to invade our country. Saakashvili now has given it to them”, he says. „As some politicians are shouting now that we are supposedly the victors in this war, in practice we have lost NATO. We can forget about reunification with South Ossetia and Abkhazia for the next ten years now.”
According to Usupashvili, Saakashvili has been anxiously waiting for some time to start a war. „Like a small child, he wanted to try out his new weapons”, he says. „When he was told at the NATO summit in Bucharest that for the time being, Georgia could not join NATO, things got out of hand. From that moment on, he started to make his war plan, as reunification of Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia was one of the demands which had to be met before a NATO membership was possible.”
Declaration by the Georgian peace movement on the Ossetia war: see here.
US forces to be sent to Georgia: here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.
Ossetia war and John McCain: here.
Seumas Milne on Ossetia war: here.
British Stop the War on Georgia: here; videos here.
EU meeting on Georgia reveals tensions between European powers and US: here.
The New York Times covers for US role in Georgia crisis: here.
UKRAINIAN RIGHT WING DRAWS CLOSER TO NATO: here.
Russia and China settle longstanding territorial disputes: here.
Aug 13, 8:12 PM EDT
U.S.-backed Georgian president’s exaggerated claims fuel tensions with rival Russia
By MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — It was a claim that could have provoked a dangerous Kremlin response: The United States is readying to take over airports and ports in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The claim, by U.S.-backed Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday was swiftly shot down by officials in Washington, who denied any such designs on Georgian soil.
Yet, it was the latest in a string of overstated pronouncements by the American-educated Georgian leader that are further fueling tensions with Moscow.
His comments – along with a stream of biased, conflicting and often false information coming from both Russian and Georgian officials – have made it hard to figure out what is really happening in the world’s latest hotspot.
Fighting between the Russian and Georgian armies raged for days, leaving hundreds dead and some 100,000 forced from their homes. The U.S. government and world diplomats are scrambling for a way to cool the tensions.
Warfare erupted when Georgia sought to retake control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia last Thursday and Russia responded with overwhelming military force.
Saakashvili has been conducting daily interviews in his fluent English on international television networks and making frequent televised speeches at home.
On Wednesday, he said in an interview on CNN that Russian troops were “closing on the capital, circling,” and planning to install their own government in Tbilisi.
Associated Press reporters in the area saw no sign of an impending coup. An AP reporter saw dozens of Russian trucks and armored vehicles heading south from the central city of Gori in the direction of Tbilisi, but they later turned away.
Saakashvili said Russian troops moving deeper into Georgia “even steal toilet seats.”
He later said on Georgian national television that the U.S. arrival of a military cargo plane with humanitarian aid “means that Georgia’s ports and airports will be taken under the control of the U.S. Defense Department.”
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell responded, “We have no need, nor do we intend to take over any Georgian air or seaport to deliver humanitarian aid. … We have no designs on taking control of any Georgian facility.”
Saakashvili has repeatedly compared the Russian incursions to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, to the Soviet crackdown in Prague in 1968 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
In his Wednesday TV address, he said, “Russia has lost more airplanes than in any conflict of this scale since 1939.” While such figures are not publicly available, the calculation seemed unlikely given how brief the fighting has been and how uneven the two countries’ forces are.
He also cited rumors that Russia was planning to bomb a rally in Tbilisi on Tuesday. The rally ended peacefully.
Saakashvili insists he’s not overstating anything, and lamented Wednesday that the West ignored his warnings that Russia was planning a military operation in Georgia as “exaggerations.”
“Now look what they’re doing. This has already exceeded my worst expectations.”
Saakashvili, who graduated from Columbia University Law School, has always been blunt, and his bold language and flamboyant manner helped drive the Rose Revolution that brought him to power after disputed elections in 2003.
He has long been derided in Russia, where he is seen as a vassal of the United States as it seeks to expand its influence in Moscow’s backyard. The conflict has made that worse. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev indirectly referred to his Georgian counterpart as a “lunatic” on Tuesday.
Russia’s leadership has been fierce – and often wrong – in its claims about the conflict, too.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said in a BBC interview Wednesday, “There were many reports that Russian tanks are inside Georgia which later proved out to be totally untrue.”
AP reporters saw a Russian convoy in the area of Gori on Wednesday, including support vehicles, ambulances, heavy cannons and about 100 combat troops.
Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Moscow contributed to this report.
Our Web site: http://www.aapsorg.org
PR: 16 : International Sec. : 13/8/2008
AAPSO on Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict
Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union , Abkhasia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions of Georgia became restless as they were not prepared to leave the Soviet Union along with Georgia
In fact both these territories unilaterally declared independent but not recognized by any foreign state. Since they were bordering Russia, they looked to Russia for protection and assistance. Organization of security and cooperation of European States had a peace keeping mission in Abkhasia . But in south Ossetia it was manned by the Russian troops since 1990s.
When Shakesvili became the President of Georgia, he was keen to join the NATO and the European Union and develop more close relationship with the U.S.
In fact Bush made several overtures to Shakasveli that Georgia is the most friendliest former Soviet Republic to the U.S.
The dream of Shakesveli was to integrate the two break away regions by using military force which he did on the eve of the Olympic games. There was carnage and devastation including over 1200 people dead in South Ossetia. Also a large number of refugees fled to North Ossetia where they were put in make shift camps by the Russians who were providing humanitatian assistance.
Among those killed by Georgian bombing were the Russian Peace keepers too. In this situation Russia retaliated on behalf of the South Ossetian people and advanced to the Georgian territory forcing the Georgian army out of South Ossetia.
The situation became complicated as it became a war between Georgia and Russia.
The U.S. only issued a statement criticizing Russia and supported the Georgian state. France as chairman of the European Union took the initiative in restoring peace.
French Foreign Minister and the President flew to both capitals of Russia and Georgia and ultimately brought about a ceasefire agreement restoring the earlier position before the conflict.
AAPSO agrees with the World Public Opinion that there is no military solution to the conflict and should be resolved only through dialogue between the parties concerned, and international agreements should be respected.
Personally, I find McCain’s saber-rattling against Russia to be frightening, and totally uncalled for.
Peacefully Yours, Nancy A. Hey
John McCain’s long war on Russia
By: Ben Smith
August 13, 2008 02:38 PM EST
While virtually every other world leader called for calm in Georgia last Thursday morning, John McCain did something he’s done many times during his career in public life: He condemned Russia.
Within hours, Barack Obama sharpened his own statement to include more direct criticism of the regime of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. Soon after, President Bush and an array of foreign leaders also began to place the full responsibility for the war on Moscow.
Obama, Bush and others made their shifts in tone as the brutal, disproportional nature of Russia’s response began to become clear. But McCain’s confrontational stance on the Caucasus crisis stems from a long, personal skepticism of Russian intentions, one that dates back to the Cold War and that eased only briefly in the early 1990s.
Indeed, McCain, who publicly confronted Putin in Munich last year, may be the most visible — and now potentially influential — American antagonist of Russia. What remains to be seen is whether the endgame to the Georgia crisis makes McCain seem prophetic or headstrong and whether his muscular rhetoric plays a role in defining for voters the kind of commander in chief he would be.
What is not in doubt is McCain’s view of Russia. His belief that Moscow harbors dangerous aspirations goes back a long way, as does his fervent view that the only way to quiet the Russian bear is through tough talk and threat of real consequences — and certainly not through accommodation.
* Clinton speech not keynote event
* ‘Chameleon’ Reid looks to 2010
McCain has suggested he sees Russia’s danger to its neighbors through a long historical lens. As far back as 1996, when Russia was near economic ruin and governed by an erratic Boris Yeltsin, he warned of the danger of “Russian nostalgia for empire.”
That belief has not changed. “I think it’s very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire,” McCain told local reporters on his bus in Pennsylvania on Monday. “Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian empire.”
McCain’s campaign sees the clarity of his stance, and that fact that Obama and others have echoed it, as a political plus, a sign of his seasoning on the international stage. It matches his straight-talking image, and it provides a useful contrast with Bush, whose critics in both parties say he has been naive about Putin, whose soul he once notoriously claimed to have glimpsed.
McCain often quips that he only sees the letters KGB in Putin’s eyes.
“You have to be clearheaded about that kind of regime,” said Gary Schmitt, a national security expert at the American Enterprise Institute who praised McCain for “calling a spade a spade” regarding Russia.
“McCain’s been much more clear-sighted than the Bush administration or many of our allies in Europe.”
To critics, McCain’s stance is grandstanding with little effect beyond riling a nuclear power. Though few in either party think Putin is a democrat, many foreign policy thinkers see Russia as fundamentally less dangerous than the Soviet Union. The U.S. also needs to work with Russia on issues from nuclear weapons to Middle East diplomacy. European allies increasingly also rely on Moscow for energy supplies.
“This is a guy who grew up in the Cold War, was a military person and an honorable man, but has not changed his ways of thinking about Russia,” said Jonathan Elkind, a Democrat who served on former President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council. The U.S. should be “explaining with precision what we don’t like about their behavior, rather than saying he ‘looked into Putin’s eyes and saw KGB.’ That has an adolescent quality that gets us exactly nowhere.”
“Speaking directly to the Russians as opposed to in some pugnacious Cold War-fashion is what this modern challenge needs,” said Mark Brzezinski, an informal foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign. “What Russia needs to know is that it will be globally ostracized — and Barack Obama’s global approach is different from the state-to-state balance of power approach that is visible in the McCain talking points.”
McCain’s critics and allies agree that his views on Russia are heartfelt and go back decades, to the Reagan years.
“He was a Reaganite in the Cold War — that was a pro-democracy, anti-Communist approach,” said Robert Kagan, an informal McCain adviser at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who contrasted McCain with those more eager to support anti-Communist autocrats.
McCain supported Russia’s democratic and capitalist reformers in the early 1990s, and in 1993 he took on the chairmanship of the International Republican Institute, which gets federal funding to promote democratic reform abroad, a post he still holds.
“He was an ardent supporter of Russia’s democratic development,” said Steve Biegun, who opened the IRI’s Moscow office and worked with McCain on Capitol Hill later in the decade. “He was certainly supportive of Yeltsin from the early ’90s through the mid-’90s.”
That cheerful view of Russia didn’t last long, as McCain became an early public critic of Yeltsin — and of the Clinton administration’s policy of supporting him. By Feb. 22, 1994, he was opposing the promotion of Clinton’s ambassador to Moscow, Strobe Talbott, to deputy secretary of state.
In a speech on the Senate floor, he accused the Clinton team of overlooking Yeltsin’s flaws and betraying Russian liberals. He faulted Talbott for not “confronting” the Kremlin, and accused him of yielding to Russian opposition to the expansion of NATO.
“We should make clear to Russia that we appreciate the importance of Russian stability to our own security,” McCain said. “But we should make equally clear to Russia that we are free to pursue all opportunities for enhancing our security and that of our allies.”
McCain, like many in Congress, also was appalled by Russia’s support for Serbia during the Balkan conflicts of the mid- and late-’90s. He emerged from the period a vocal critic, condemning Russia’s actions in the Balkans and its brutality in the breakaway province of Chechnya.
“[W]e must make abundantly clear to Moscow that we consider this action to be evidence that Russia cannot yet be trusted as good faith partners in preserving European stability,” McCain said during the second Balkan conflict in 1999.
When Yeltsin handed power to Putin from 1999 to 2000, some argued that the technocratic new strongman could stabilize Russia to the benefit of the West. McCain was not among the optimists.
“I suspect that John McCain was made privy to sensitive or classified info that we may have on Putin — his KGB past, things he’s done,” said Steve Clemons, a liberal foreign policy expert. “When Putin emerged as this highly capable strongman with KGB networks, I suspect that turned McCain off.”
In 2003, when Putin seized control of a television network that had been critical of him, McCain “really stepped up his criticism,” said Biegun.
McCain delivered a speech on the “new authoritarianism” in Russia, aimed at waking America up to the threat from “a country that increasingly appears to have more in common with its Soviet and Czarist predecessors than with the modern state Vladimir Putin claims to aspire to build.”
It was, says Biegun, consistent with McCain’s view that Russia shouldn’t be shielded from harsh criticism.
“He’s never put on blinders about Russia,” he said.
In the ’90s, McCain had called for making American financial assistance conditional on Russian behavior. But with oil prices high and the dollar weak, Russia has stopped needing the United States. Putin made that clear in a speech at a security conference in Munich last February, denouncing and mocking U.S. foreign policy with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and McCain in the audience.
McCain delivered the American retort.
“Moscow must understand that it cannot enjoy a genuine partnership with the West so long as its actions, at home and abroad, conflict so fundamentally with the core values of the Euro-Atlantic democracies,” he said.
Now, McCain has led harsh denunciations of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, though neither he nor any other leader has suggested that the West has any real way to blunt Moscow’s ultimate intentions. He’s also faced the accusation that his encouragement of Georgia’s dramatic defiance of Russia helped trigger the crisis. (A McCain aide dismissed that notion, saying Russia’s provocations forced Georgia’s response.)
McCain’s current foreign policy team, including chief adviser Randy Scheunemann, are largely drawn from the circle of neoconservatives who backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. To many of them, he’s a more authentic version of President Bush, whose public commitment to the spread of democracy, as they see it, was too often neglected in practice, notably in Russia.
“McCain was there a decade earlier [than Bush], and with greater consistency,” said Kagan.
© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC
Petition to prevent war against Russia:
Peacefully Yours, Nancy A. Hey
August 12, 2008
The Russian Society of Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity and Cooperation calls upon the General Secretariat of AAPSO as well as AAPSO national committees to condemn the aggression of the Georgian political leadership towards South Ossetia as well as hold up to shame the crimes of the Georgian military towards South Ossetia’s civilians. The evident objective of the Georgian political leadership was to fully cleanse up the territory from the Ossetians through mass killings and banishments from their native places.
Russia has been rigorously adhering to the idea of nation state as well as respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, the idea of nation state presumes tolerance and respect towards all citizens of a state irrespective of their ethnicity or religion. The Georgian political leadership has roughly violated the idea of nation state not only calling for ethnical exclusiveness, but actually trying to put it into life.
The conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia has been under watch on behalf of authoritative international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, etc. This conflict could and should have been solved peacefully. However the Georgian political leadership, with the connivance of their transatlantic patrons, chose the path of war and ethnic purges. They have in fact made themselves enemies of nation state, peace, and progress.
Chairman of the Council
Russian Society of Afro-Asian Solidarity and Cooperation Mikhail Margelov
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