No Caucasian Ceasefire until Russia Achieves its Aims

By Monday, Aug. 11, the fourth day of the Caucasian conflict, which first erupted over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, the pro-American Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili sounded hopeless in the face of overwhelming Russian might.
International condemnation of Russian behavior as “unacceptable and disproportionate” did not ease his country’s plight or stop the continuing violence.
Saakashvili’s third commitment to a ceasefire, signed in the presence of the French and Finnish foreign ministers, was brusquely rejected by the Kremlin before the would-be mediators had a chance to present it later that day. The Russian NATO ambassador said his government would not deal with the “war criminal” Georgian president, confirming Saakashvili’s charge that one of Moscow’s objects was to oust him as president.
debkafile‘s military analysts reported Sunday, Aug. 10:
Russian president Dimitry Medvedev said Sunday, Aug. 10, the war would go on until Tbilisi withdrew its forces unconditionally from South Ossetia and pledged never to attack the region again. This would mean Georgia’s acceptance of its truncation and its surrender to Russian hegemony.
The gap between the claims of both sides attested to the war of words accompanying the battles on the ground. While the Georgians claimed to have killed “several hundred” Russian troops and downed “80 planes,” Moscow admitted to the loss of 18 soldiers and four warplanes.
Civilians, especially in South Ossetia and at least three Georgian towns pummeled by Russian jets, are bearing the brunt of this conflict. Saturday and Sunday, they pounded Gori, the Black Sea naval, military and oil port of Poti, and Zugdidi on the Abkhazian border.
The Red Cross reports that the conflict has displaced at least 40,000 people from their homes. The South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, now a ghost town, is controlled by Russian forces.
That the Georgian town of Gori was pounded from the air for three days is attested to by witnesses. The numbers of the city’s dead and displaced certainly run into hundreds.
debkafile reports that the Russians pulverized Gori to punish Georgia for invading the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali last Thursday, Aug. 7.
Sunday night, Russian planes dropped bombs near Tbilisi’s international airport and a nearby military air installation shortly after the US began flying hundreds of Georgian troops home from Iraq. The intention appeared to be to leave the Georgian reinforcements nowhere to land.
During the day, too, the Russian navy imposed a sea blockade on Georgian’s Black Sea ports and later claimed to have sunk a Georgian vessel during an attack.
In the face of President George W. Bush’s demand for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and support for international mediation, Moscow poured an additional 10,000 men and armor into South Ossetia Sunday as well.
debkafile‘s military analysts: By flouting US demands to accept mediation, Moscow highlighted America’s lack of leverage for helping its embattled Georgian ally.
The Bush administration finds itself trapped in its foreign policy commitment to dialogue and international diplomacy for solving world disputes, but short of willing opposite numbers.
Russia is following Iran’s example in exploiting Washington’s inhibition to advance its goals by force. Therefore, the Caucasian standoff has profound ramifications for the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Moscow’s disdain for Washington’s lack of muscle will further encourage Tehran and its terrorist proxies to defy the international community and the United States in particular.
debkafile‘s military analysts reported Saturday, Aug. 9:
Tiny Georgia with an army of less than 18,000, having been roundly defeated in South Ossetia, cannot hope to withstand the mighty Russian army in Abkhazia.
Therefore, President Saakashvili, whose bid to join NATO and the European Union infuriated Moscow, will have to write off both breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as lost to Russia.
This is Moscow’s payback for the US-NATO action to detach Kosovo from Serbia and launch it on the way to independence. It is also a warning to former Soviet bloc nations, Ukraine, the Caucasian and Central Asian peoples against opting to join up with the United States and the NATO bloc in areas which Moscow deems part of its strategic sphere of influence
After severing South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, four follow-up Russian steps may be postulated:
1. The two separatist provinces will proclaim their independence, just like Kosovo.
2. Russia will continue to exercise its overwhelming military and air might to reduce the pro-American Saakashvili to capitulation.
3. The Georgian president will not be able to face his own nation after losing two regions of his country and causing its humiliation. Moscow will then make Washington swallow a pro-Russian successor.
4. Moscow’s trampling of Georgia will serve as an object lesson for Russia’s own secessionist provinces, such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, and a warning not to risk defying Russian armed might.
4. Western plans to develop more oil and gas pipelines to bypass the Russian network to the West, in addition to the Caspian line which carries one million barrels a day from Baku through Georgia to Turkey and out to the West, will be held in abeyance pending an accommodation with the rulers of the Kremlin.

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