News & Current Affairs

August 10, 2008

Georgia ‘pulls out of S Ossetia’

Georgia ‘pulls out of S Ossetia’

Courtesy BBC

A man carries a boy, who was injured in South Ossetian regional capital Tskhinvali (9 August)

Russia accused Georgia of genocide against the South Ossetian people

Georgia has said its troops have pulled out of the breakaway region of South Ossetia and that Russian forces are in control of its capital, Tskhinvali.

But Russia said that while heavy artillery had been seen leaving the territory, Georgian troops were still present in other areas of the region.

Georgian officials later accused Russia of escalating the conflict in Abkhazia, another breakaway region in the west.

The US has described Russia’s actions as “dangerous and disproportionate”.

US Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffrey said that if the Russian escalation continued, it would have a “significant” long-term impact on relations between the Moscow and Washington.

“We’re alarmed by this situation,” he told reporters in Beijing.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin earlier suggested it was unlikely that South Ossetia would re-integrate with the rest of Georgia, saying the country’s territorial integrity had “suffered a fatal blow”.

Meanwhile, Russian warships have deployed near ports along the Georgian Black Sea coast, including Poti, where Georgia wheat and fuel shipments are being blocked. Russia insists there are no plans to stop oil exports, but says it reserves the right to search any ships.

In response, Ukraine has threatened to block the return of Russian warships to their Black Sea base at Sevastopol saying it does not want to be “drawn into a military conflict”.

Georgia says an additional 10,000 Russian soldiers have crossed into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The separatist authorities in Abkhazia have announced full military mobilisation.

The BBC’s Richard Galpin, who is on Georgia’s crossing point into South Ossetia, says he has heard artillery fire between Georgian and Russian troops in the area.

A photo showing what Georgian authorities say is the debris of a Russian bomber that they allege was shot down near the village of Dzevera on Saturday (10 August 2008)

Georgia published photos of what it said were the remains of a Russian jet

Local residents fleeing the area told him there was continued fighting on the outskirts of the Tskhinvali, although the city itself was said to be relatively quiet with Russian forces in full control.

Earlier, Georgian officials said Russian jets had bombed a military airfield close to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

Three bombs had been dropped on the airfield, where there is a factory producing Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets, they said.

There was no independent confirmation of the attack, although the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse, who was in the city at the time, said he heard a loud explosion.

The current fighting began four days ago when Georgian forces launched a surprise attack to regain control of South Ossetia, which has had de facto independence since the end of a civil war in 1992.

The move followed days of exchanges of heavy fire with the Russian-backed separatists. In response to the Georgian crackdown, Moscow sent armoured units across the border frontier.

Georgia’s aspiration to join Nato… is driven by its attempt to drag other nations and peoples into its bloody adventures
Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister

On Saturday, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called for an immediate ceasefire after Russian planes carried out air strikes on the Georgian town of Gori, not far from South Ossetia. Scores of civilians were reported to have been killed.

The Georgian parliament has approved a presidential decree declaring a “state of war” for 15 days.

There are conflicting figures about the casualties suffered on both sides, and independent verification has not been possible, but the numbers appeared to rise sharply on Saturday.

Russian and South Ossetian estimates put the death toll on the South Ossetian side at more than 1,500, mostly civilians. Georgian casualty figures ranged from 82 dead, including 37 civilians, to a figure of about 130 dead.

Thousands of people are known to have fled into the neighbouring Russian region of North Ossetia and other parts of Georgia.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, called for civilians trapped in conflict areas to be granted safe passage out.

Abkhazia concerns

Speaking to the BBC, Georgian interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Georgian troops had pulled back to positions at or south of those held before 6 August, when the hostilities began.

From there, he said, they were engaged in fighting Russian forces.

ARMED FORCES COMPARED
Russian tanks (8 August 2008)
GEORGIA
Total personnel: 26,900
Main battle tanks (T-72): 82
Armoured personnel carriers: 139
Combat aircraft (Su-25): Seven
Heavy artillery pieces (including Grad rocket launchers): 95
RUSSIA
Total personnel: 641,000
Main battle tanks (various): 6,717
Armoured personnel carriers: 6,388
Combat aircraft (various): 1,206
Heavy artillery pieces (various): 7,550
Source: Jane’s Sentinel Country Risk Assessments

Mr Utiashvili told the BBC that the withdrawal was necessary because of the mass civilian and military casualties both within South Ossetia and elsewhere in Georgia.

He said that Georgia was now facing a “humanitarian catastrophe”, adding that 100 soldiers Georgian soldiers had been killed, and many more wounded.

A spokesman for the Russian military said Georgia had not withdrawn and insisted Georgia had to do that before any kind of ceasefire could come into effect.

A Russian commander in the conflict zone, Maj-Gen Marat Kulakhmetov, said the situation remained tense, and suggested both sides were preparing for further military action.

Earlier, Georgia said Russia had brought an additional 10,000 troops across Georgia’s frontiers – 6,000 by land into South Ossetia and 4,000 by sea into Abkhazia.

The head of the pro-Russian separatist authorities in Abkhazia also said he had sent 1,000 troops to the Tbilisi-controlled Kodori gorge and announced the “full mobilisation” of reservists.

“We are ready to act independently,” Sergei Bagapsh said. “We are ready to enforce order and go further if there is resistance from the Georgian side.”

A Georgian interior ministry official later told the BBC that Russia had launched what he called “all-out military aggression” against Georgia, including attacking areas outside the conflict zone in South Ossetia.

He said Russian planes were now bombing the western town of Zugdidi and the Georgian-controlled enclave within Abkhazia. The claims could not be independently verified.

Georgian refugees from villages near Tskhinvali block a road outside the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi (10 August 2008)

Georgia’s parliament has approved a decree declaring a state of war

The UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Edmond Mulet, said on Saturday that he feared the Abkhaz separatists were preparing to launch an offensive.

“At this point we are particularly concerned that the conflict appears to be spreading beyond South Ossetia into Abkhazia,” he said.

Speaking on Saturday in the nearby city of Vladikavkaz, Mr Putin accused Georgia of seeking “bloody adventures” and trying to drag other countries into the conflict.

In an outspoken attack, he referred directly to Georgia’s aspirations to join Nato, a move which Moscow strongly opposes.

Mr Putin described the actions of Georgian soldiers as genocide against the South Ossetian people and defended Moscow’s military action to intervene directly.

Redrawing the map

Meanwhile, a joint delegation of the US, EU and the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe is heading to Georgia in the hope of brokering a truce.

It comes as a third emergency session of the UN Security Council ended without an agreement on the wording of a statement calling for a ceasefire.

But emissaries from the US and Europe who are Nato members may not be seen as honest brokers by the Kremlin when it comes to Georgia, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says.

The danger now is that Russia will not only use this crisis to demonstrate its military power in the region, but argue it is time to redraw the map, she adds.

BBC map


Are you in the areas affected by the violence? If you have witnessed anything you want to share with readers all over world.

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1 Comment »

  1. Truth about war in Ossetia that is overlooked by BBC and CNN

    At 7 p.m. on August 8, the day when Olympics started, worldwide community heard from CNN and BBC news that Russian tanks invaded Georgia and that Russia started war with Georgia.

    That the war had begun 16 hours earlier by Georgian president Sukashvili’s order these media preferred to pass over in silence.

    But you have the right to know truth. That’s how this really happened:

    According to old tradition of Olympic Games’ eve everyone was looking for peace and quiet. On August 7, Georgian and South Ossetian officials agreed to observe a ceasefire and hold debates in attempt to solve their long-term conflict peacefully.

    August 8, 00:06
    Just hours later, six minutes past midnight on August 8, inhabitants of Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, peacefully sleeping in their beds, heard dreadful whizz of incoming rockets. The hell followed soon… Without any declaration Georgian forces launched massive shelling of Tskhinvali with all available means, including heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems GRAD. In this massacre, in just several hours, the whole city was ruined: 2,000 human lives wasted and 85% of all buildings demolished. Georgian military expedition, called “Clean field”, yielded its first fruits…

    August 8, 03:00
    Georgian army occupied five Ossetian villages, burning them to ashes.

    August 8, 03:30
    Georgian tanks started attack on Tskhinvali. Ossetian militia stood up to the enemy but could not keep back 30-times outnumbering Georgian forces. Many basements where Ossetins tried to escape shelling were showered with grenades. At the very same time, Georgian “peacekeepers”, serving in South Ossetia, launched unexampled attack on their yesterday’s colleagues, Russian peacekeepers, managing to kill at least 10 of them.

    August 8, 04:33
    Russia called for UN Security Council meeting to put a stop to Georgian military aggression and seize fire. No decision was delivered at neither this nor several following meetings.

    August 8, 09:00
    Russian Prime Minister Putin informed President Bush that Georgia launched war against Ossetia. Mr. Bush answered that “nobody wanted this war”.

    Ossetia was praying for help. It was already obvious that “clean field” meant nothing else but ethnical cleansing. In these circumstances, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia would defend Russian citizens who constitute 90% of South Ossetia population.

    August 8, 16:00
    Russian forces overstepped mountain pass and made their way toward perishing Ossetins. That was exactly the moment when CNN and BBC finally “noticed” the war and broadcasted their «Russians invaded Georgia» scenes. Sukashvili announced that Russia invaded Georgia and held back that he started this horrible bloodshed himself.

    Before midnight, Russian and Ossetian forces kicked aggressors out of Ossetian capital. Survived citizens started to leave basements to escape the city. In the next couple days around 30,000 refugees fled to Russia.

    Failed Georgian assault turned to informational blackout and devilish propaganda. It’s time when so much depends on your personal position! I believe that there will be journalists who can give objective picture of these events. I believe in people of peace who will regard an attempt of massive extermination of small nation as genocide (3% of South Ossetins and 0.3% of all Ossetins worldwide were killed in just one night on August 8; fascists have never achieved that efficiency in exterminating Jewish people even when Auschwitz and Treblinka were working at full capacity). I believe in a world community that will view Sukashvili’s inhuman orders as war crime and an outrage on humanity. I believe in you, thinking person, able to confront with facts, person who will not follow barefaced propaganda of politicized and deeply corrupt media, person able to recognize truth!

    Comment by Andrey — August 27, 2008 @ 12:37 am


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