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Eve of Destruction? (Caucasus War)
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717

    On the Brink of War: The Caucasian conflict in the context of world politics
    by Fyodor Lukyanov
    Global Research, August 5, 2008

    South Ossetia is once again on the brink of war. Alarming reports are coming from Abkhazia, and Russian-Georgian relations continue to be tense.

    Why have these two unresolved conflicts on Georgian territory grown so markedly worse? Their indefinite status is by definition volatile, and sometimes a minor event can turn a frozen conflict into a hot one. In this case, however, we are seeing a major change that reflects a fundamental process.

    Kosovo's unilateral proclamation of independence from Serbia last February played a key role in these developments.,149.0.html
    There may be endless disputes over whether this has created a legal precedent or not, but realpolitik takes its course regardless.

    Moscow and quite a few other capitals considered the move a serious step toward the degradation of international law and the triumph of arbitrary approaches to the resolution of global problems.

    Nonetheless, Russia has chosen a course of compromise. Russia's leaders could not ignore what happened in the Balkans, but they chose not respond by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, even though they believe that after Kosovo was proclaimed independent they had every right to do so.

    Reluctant to complicate an already difficult situation, Russia is ready to continue recognizing Georgia's formal territorial integrity. But it has opted for fully-fledged relations with both of the breakaway territories. This approach is manifest in Moscow's decision to withdraw from sanctions against Abkhazia and the Russian president's April decree on practical aid to the residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Tbilisi understands that after Kosovo the prospect of restoring Georgia's territorial integrity has become even vaguer. If the status taking shape after Russia's move is accepted and everything is left as it is, it will soon be pointless to talk about re-integration even in theory. Abkhazia will become an element of an enormous economic project called "the Sochi Olympics." South Ossetia is already de facto a subsidized region of the Russian Federation.

    Tbilisi must show resolve if it wants to break this trend. It can make diplomatic initiatives, exert military pressure and attract the attention of its Western allies by escalating tensions. Georgia's leaders believe that closer relations with NATO and future membership in the bloc will help secure their territorial integrity. Washington shares this view. According to this logic, NATO's failure to welcome Georgia and Ukraine into a Membership Action Plan in April was a sign of weakness that prompted Russia to step up its actions toward "annexing" the territories. If Moscow is told in no uncertain terms that the decision will be made, this will ostensibly promote stabilization.

    But Russia's position on this issue is just the opposite. The closer Georgia is to NATO, the more resolute steps Moscow will take toward recognizing the territories which Georgia no longer controls, because Tbilisi could see some of NATO's formal commitments as a chance to resolve the conflicts militarily.

    The United States has been contributing to the tension. Six months before the end of his presidency, George W. Bush badly needs some international success, if he does not want to be remembered for a chain of failures. Approval of the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine and Georgia (or at least one of them) at NATO's ministerial meeting next December is fast becoming his only chance to leave a tangible achievement.

    This is why Washington is being more vocal in its support for Georgia and bringing more pressure to bear on those of its European allies who question the wisdom of such a course. One example is the recent visit to Tbilisi by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Needless to say, Georgia perceives Washington's unequivocal position as a green light to take more active steps.

    Tensions are likely to reach a peak in late fall. In December, the current U.S. administration will make its last attempt to push through the Membership Action Plan. As a prelude to this, Washington will sharply step up its political activities, thereby increasing the risk of armed conflicts in the region.

    Russia to act if Georgia-Ossetia row worsens
    Global Research, August 5, 2008
    Russia Today

    Russia will not stand by and do nothing if the situation in South Ossetia escalates into a full scale conflict. That's the view of the Russian Foreign Ministry, responding to an increase in tension between Georgia and its breakaway republic. The Co-chairman of Joint Control Commission for Georgian-Ossetian Conflict Resolution (JCC), Yury Popov, said the key task is "to find ways of preventing what happened on August 1, and on July 4 - when Tskhinvali came under a mortar attack - from happening again".

He also said diplomatic steps were needed to settle the dispute. According to Popov, “The sides have agreed with our mediation to hold a high-level meeting in Tskhinvali on Thursday, August 7". 

    Georgia and South Ossetia have traded accusations claiming their police posts were shelled overnight. There are no reports of any casualties.

According to the president of the unrecognized republic, Eduard Kokoyti, Georgia is acting provocatively to drive Russia out of peace talks aimed at easing tensions between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali.
”It is sad but Georgia, under the instruction of its western partners, is doing all it can to disrupt the current diplomatic talks but also the peacekeeping efforts. Georgian terror groups have infiltrated South Ossetia to spread fear and chaos,” he said.  “This all shows that Saakashvili’s regime has chosen to go down the path of state terror towards its breakaway republics,” Kokoity added.  

    At a news conference in Moscow, the South Ossetian envoy to Russia, Dmitry Medoyev, said the situation had significantly worsened since last month's visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“Georgian troops that took part in NATO exercises in the region launched artillery fire on the South Ossetian capital on August 1, killing six people. There is a direct connection between the exercises of NATO troops and the latest attacks on us. And there can’t be two opinions about it,” he said.

    Meanwhile, South Ossetia is continuing to evacuate women and children from the area following last week's artillery exchanges with Georgia. Around 3,000 people have left the region over the past three days.

Six people have been killed and 13 injured in recent sniper and mortar exchanges between the two sides.

The region’s government says it is responding to what it sees as an increase in Georgian troops on its border, fearing Tbilisi is planning an armed invasion. Georgia, however, denies the claims and calls the move a ‘political show’.

    South Ossetia under Georgian attack
    Global Research, August 8, 2008

    Georgia has declared a war on its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgian forces are attacking the South Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali. The attack was launched late on Thursday, at 11:45 p.m. Moscow time. “There is massive artillery shelling from Grad rocket systems, guns and large-calibre mortars from Georgian-controlled territory,” South Ossetia’s information and press committee reported.

    Dozens of civilians are reported to have been killed in the firing, and the number of wounded is being verified. The toll is set to rise as the attacks continue. An air strike was launched on the city in the early hours today. Tskhinvali’s population is estimated at about 30,000 people, of whom 90 percent are Russians. Many buildings have been destroyed, dozens of buildings are on fire. The local hospital also came under attack. The medical personnel have been led to an underground shelter, but it is impossible to carry the wounded there due to heavy fire.

    Ossetian troops are putting up strong resistance on the approaches to the city. According to Russian peacekeepers, Georgia is bringing armored equipment, artillery, tanks and personnel close to Tskhinvaly and nearby villages. Georgian aircraft are bombing South Ossetian villages. Five Su-25 fighters have attacked the village of Tkverneti.

    The positions of Russian peacekeepers came under attack, too, as well as a humanitarian aid convoy led by South Ossetian President Teimuraz Mamsurov.

    Officially, Georgia calls it “an operation to bring constitutional order to the Tskhinvali region,” Mamuka Kurashvili, the commander of Georgian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia, told Rustavi 2 channel. He said he had warned Russian peacekeepers not to meddle.

    Teimuraz Yakobashvili, Georgia’s State Minister for Reintegration, told Rustavi 2 that Georgian forces had occupied five South Ossetian villages as a result of the overnight operation. South Ossetian officials denied the report.

    Georgia assesses the operation as “freeing the villages from South Ossetian bandit gangs.” “Our goal is to cease fire and riots of bandit gangs and prevent Georgia from becoming a depot for arms and drugs,” Yakobashvili stressed.

    Russia strongly denounced Georgia’s attack of South Ossetia and initiated an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council. However, the organization failed to agree on a Russian-drafted statement calling on both sides to stop violence. It urged Georgian neighbors to refrain from provocations and respect an Olympic truce.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Georgia’s aggression would provoke a response from Russia. “Tbilisi is taking very aggressive actions against South Ossetia. Russia demands retaliation,” he said.

    Georgia’s attack came hours after President Mikhail Saakashvili declared a ceasefire, saying that Tbilisi would seek a diplomatic solution to the escalating conflict, which he blamed on the breakaway republic.

    Georgia’s air forces have Mi-24 and Iroquois helicopters and SU-25Т, SU-25 Scorpion, MiG-21, L-159 ALCA, An-2 and other aircraft. Its air defense troops are equipped with Strela-10 missile systems, ZSU-23-4 Shilka mobile gun systems, and S-125 (Neva) anti-aircraft short-range systems. The republic’s navy forces have high-speed patrol boats, major landing ships, missile ships and gun ships. Ground forces are equipped with the tanks Т-55, Т-54 and Т-72, as well as infantry combat vehicles, combat reconnaissance patrol vehicles, armored personnel carriers; Grad rocket systems, guns and mortars, mostly of Czech origin.

    South Ossetia says over 1,000 dead after Georgian attack
    Global Research, August 8, 2008

    08/08/2008 21:45 MOSCOW, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - Over 1,000 civilians have been killed as the result of an attack by Georgia on the capital of its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the North Ossetian nationalities minister said Friday.

    "According to the South Ossetian information and press committee, the number of fatalities is estimated, according to preliminary information, at over 1,000," Teimuraz Kasayev said.

    North Ossetia is part of Russia.

    Georgia launched a major offensive early Friday morning using tanks, combat aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry. Earlier Colonel Igor Konashenkov, an aide to the commander of the Russian Ground Forces, said about 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded in the conflict zone. The Russian Transportation Ministry's press service said Friday that Moscow would cut air links with Tbilisi.

    Georgian military forces have begun retreating from the capital, Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian information and press committee said. "Using grenade launchers [South] Ossetian local defense forces are destroying Georgian tanks. According to eyewitnesses they [the tanks] are on fire throughout the city," the committee said in a statement.

    The statement also said that most of the city had been devastated by the Georgian military attack, which left the hospital destroyed and the republic's university on fire.
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Russia 'invades' Georgia as South Ossetia descends towards war
    Russian tanks have entered Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia, pushing the troubled region closer to all-out war.
    08 Aug 2008

    "We won't allow the death of our compatriots to go unpunished," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that he would "protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are located".

    As a column of Russian tanks advanced towards Tskhinvali, Mr Lavrov called on the West to reach "the right conclusions" over the conflict, saying the Georgian offensive had been made possible by Western military aid to Tbilisi.

    "Now we see Georgia has found a use for these weapons and for the special forces that were trained with the help of international instructors," he said. "I think our European and American colleagues ... should understand what is happening. And I hope very much that they will reach the right conclusions."

    The military operation marks the first time Russian troops have taken action on foreign soil since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

    U.S. Attacks Russia Through Client State Georgia
    Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet

    Friday, August 8, 2008

    Georgian forces, trained and equipped by the Pentagon and the U.S. government, killed 10 Russian peacekeepers early this morning in a provocation attack that has escalated into military conflict, but the subsequent corporate media coverage would have us believe that the U.S. and NATO-backed client state Georgia is a helpless victim, when in actual fact a far more nuanced geopolitical strategy is being played out.

    Original reports early this morning detailed how Georgian forces had killed 10 Russian peacekeepers and wounded 30 others, which was the provocation for Russian forces to begin military operations, but the fact that Georgian forces were responsible for starting the conflagration has been completely buried in subsequent media coverage.

    Georgia and the Pentagon cooperate closely,” reports MSNBC, “Georgia has a 2,000-strong contingent supporting the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and Washington provides training and equipment to the Georgian military.” The latest exercise, Immediate Response 2008, which took place last month, involved no less than one thousand U.S. troops working with Georgian troops in a war game scenario. Moreover, the very “Rose Revolution” that brought the Harvard trained pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvilli to power in 2003 was wholly aided and abetted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Russian fury at U.S. support for Georgia and Georgia’s aspirations of becoming a NATO member have flared regularly in recent months, with tensions also rising following U.S. attempts to place missile defense shield technology in Poland and the Czech Republic, which most observers agree has nothing to do with Iran and is in fact aimed at countering Russian military superiority in the region.

    In addition, the pro-Israeli news source DebkaFile reports that Georgian infantry units were “aided by Israeli military advisors” in capturing the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali earlier today.

    Israel 'has a hand in S. Ossetia war'
    Sun, 10 Aug 2008

    Israel has provided Georgia with military assistance amid an ongoing armed conflict in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

    The Israeli web site Debkafiles which is believed to have close links with the regime's intelligence and military sources, reported that last year, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had commissioned from Israeli security firms up to 1,000 military advisers to train the country's armed forces.

    According to the report, the Israeli advisors also helped Tbilisi with military intelligence and security operations. Georgia also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

    The report added the Israeli advisers were deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to attack and capture the capital of South Ossetia on Friday.

    The web site quoted "its military experts" as saying a project to pump Caspian oil and gas to the Turkish terminal of Ceyhan instead of the Russian pipeline network is in the interest of Tel Aviv.

    The regime therefore has been negotiating with Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to go ahead with the construction of pipelines to transfer oil to terminals in Ashkelon and Eilat.

    The report added that Moscow had demanded Tel Aviv to halt its military assistance to Georgia and even warned the regime of a diplomatic row.

    Israel, however, said that its military cooperation with Georgia had been “defensive.”

    Georgia captured the capital of South Ossetia on Friday, triggering a response from Russia which has stationed its peacekeepers in the breakaway region since the 1990s conflicts.

    Ties between the two former Soviet republics have been strained over several issues, including Georgia's NATO membership bid.

    Russians Push Past Separatist Area to Assault Central Georgia
    August 10, 2008


    TBILISI, Georgia — Russia expanded its attacks on Georgia on Sunday, moving tanks and troops through the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and advancing toward the city of Gori in central Georgia, in its first direct assault on a Georgian city with ground forces during three days of heavy fighting, Georgian officials said.

    The maneuver — along with bombing of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi — seemed to suggest that Russia’s aims in the conflict had gone beyond securing the pro-Russian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to weakening the armed forces of Georgia, a former Soviet republic and an ally of the United States whose Western leanings have long irritated the Kremlin.

    The escalation of fighting raised tensions between Russia and its former cold war foes to their highest level in decades. President Bush has promoted Georgia as a bastion of democracy, helped strengthen its military and urged that NATO admit the country to membership. Georgia serves as a major conduit for oil flowing from Russia and Central Asia to the West.

    Russia escalated its assault on Sunday despite strong diplomatic warnings from Mr. Bush and European leaders, underscoring the limits of Western influence over Russia at a time when the rest of Europe depends heavily on Russia for natural gas and the United States needs Moscow’s cooperation if it hopes to curtail what it believes is a nuclear weapons threat from Iran.

    President Bush, in Beijing for the Olympics, strongly criticized the Russian attacks, especially those outside South Ossetia, and urged an immediate cease-fire. In an interview on NBC on Monday morning, he said he had been “very firm” with both Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, and its president, Dmitri Medvedev.

    Earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney expressed a strong warning for Russia. In a telephone conversation with the Georgian president, he said “that Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community.”


    Bush's War in Georgia; Will it be the Flyswatter or the Blunderbuss?
    by Mike Whitney
    Global Research, August 11, 2008

    Washington's bloody fingerprints are all over the invasion of South Ossetia. Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili would never dream of launching a massive military attack unless he got explicit orders from his bosses at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After all, Saakashvili owes his entire political career to American power-brokers and US intelligence agencies. If he disobeyed them, he'd be gone in a fortnight. Besides an operation like this takes months of planning and logistical support; especially if it's perfectly timed to coincide with the beginning of the Olympic games. (another petty neocon touch) That means Pentagon planners must have been working hand in hand with Georgian generals for months in advance. Nothing was left to chance.

    The United States and Israel are both neck-deep in the "Great Game"; the ongoing war for vital petroleum and natural gas supplies in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin. So far, Putin appears to have the upper-hand because of his alliances with his regional allies–under the Commonwealth of Independent States—and because most of the natural gas from Eurasia is pumped through Russian pipelines.

    An article in “Today’s Zaman” gives a good snapshot of Russia’s position vis a vis natural resources in the region:
“As far as natural resources are concerned Russia’s hand is very strong: It holds 6.6 percent of the worlds proven oil reserves and 26 percent of the world’s gas reserves. In addition, it currently accounts for 12 percent of world oil and 21 of recent world gas production. In May 2007, Russia was the world’s largest oil and gas producer. 

    As for national champions, Putin has strengthened and prepared Gazprom (the state-controlled gas company), Transneft (oil pipeline monopoly) and Rosneft (the state-owned oil giant). That is why in 2006 Gazprom retained full ownership in the giant Shtokman gas field (7) and took a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project. In June 2007, it took back BP’s Kovytka gas field and now is behind Total’s Kharyaga oil and gas field.” (“Vladimir Putin’s Energystan and the Caspian” Today’s Zaman)
Putin–the black belt Judo-master–has proved to be as adept at geopolitics as he is at “deal-making”. He has collaborated with the Austrian government on a huge natural gas depot in Austria which will facilitate the transport of gas to southern Europe. He has joined forces with German industry to build an underwater pipeline through the Baltic to Germany (which could provide 80% of Germany’s gas requirements) He has selected France’s Total to assist Gazprom in the development of the massive Shtokman gas field. And he is setting up pipeline corridors to provide gas to Turkey and the Balkans. Putin has very deliberately spread Russia’s influence evenly throughout Europe with the intention of severing the Transatlantic Alliance and, eventually, loosening America’s vice-like grip on the continent. 

    Putin’s overtures to Germany’s Merkel and France’s Sarkozy are calculated to weaken the resolve of Bush’s neocon allies in the EU and put them in Russia’s corner. Putin is also attracting considerable foreign investment to Russian markets and has adopted “a ‘new model of cooperation’ in the energy sector that would ‘allow foreign partners to share in the economic benefits of the project, share the management, and take on a share of the industrial, commercial and financial risks’”. (M K Bhadrakumar “Russia plays the Shtokman card”, Asia Times) All of these are intended to strengthen ties between Europe and Russia and make it harder for the Bush administration to isolate Moscow. 

    Putin has played his cards very wisely, which makes it look like the fighting in South Ossetia may be Washington's way of trying to win through military force what they could not achieve via the free market. 

    On Saturday, President Bush issued this statement from Beijing: "We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops. We call for an end to the Russian bombings and a return by the parties to the status quo of August 6th."
That was it. Bush then quickly returned to the Olympic festivities. He was last spotted at a photo op with the US girls volleyball team jumping up and down on the beach-sand in his wingtips. The pretense that Bush is leading the country has seemingly been abandoned altogether. Cheney is in charge now.

    George Bush playfully pats the backside of Misty May-Treanor as team mate Kerri Walsh watches 

    PUTIN'S OPTIONS: Flyswatter or Blunderbuss?
Sometimes wars provide clarity. That's certainly true in this case. After this weekends fighting, everyone in the Russian political establishment knows that Washington is willing to sacrifice thousands of innocent civilians and plunge the entire region into chaos to achieve its geopolitical objectives. Bush could call the whole thing off right now; Putin and Medvedev know that. But that's not the game-plan. So, the two Russian leaders have to make some tough decisions that will end up costing lives. What other choice do they have?

    Putin needs to carefully weigh his options. Then, on Monday, he should announce that Russia will sell all $50 billion of its Fannie Mae mortgage-backed bonds, all of it US dollar-backed assets, and will accept only rubles and euros in the future sale of Russian oil and natural gas. Just watch as the dollar crashes and the Dow Jones goes into a death-spiral. Why use a blunderbuss when a flyswatter will do just fine.

    The Caucasus - Washington Risks Nuclear War By Miscalculation
    By F. William Engdahl*

    The dramatic military attack by the military of the Republic of Georgia on South Ossetia in the last days has brought the world one major step closer to the ultimate horror of the Cold War era-a thermonuclear war between Russia and the United States-by miscalculation. What is playing out in the Caucasus is being reported in US media in an alarmingly misleading light, making Moscow appear the lone aggressor. The question is whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are encouraging the unstable Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili in order to force the next US President to back the NATO military agenda of the Bush Doctrine. This time Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq, but this time with possible nuclear consequences.

    Proxy War

    In March this year as Washington went ahead to recognize the independence of Kosovo in former Yugoslavia, making Kosovo a de facto NATO-run territory against the will of the UN Security Council and especially against Russian protest, Putin responded with Russian Duma hearings on recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway republic in Moldova. Moscow argued that the West's logic on Kosovo should apply as well to these ethnic communities seeking to free themselves from the control of a hostile state. In mid-April, Mr. Putin held out the possibility of recognition for the breakaway republics. It was a geopolitical chess game in the strategic Caucasus for the highest stakes-the future of Russia itself.

    Saakashvili called then-President Putin to demand he reverse the decision. He reminded Putin that the West had taken Georgia's side. This past April at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, US President Bush proposed accepting Georgia into NATO's "Action Plan for Membership," a precursor to NATO membership. To Washington's surprise, ten NATO member states refused to support his plan, including Germany, France and Italy.

    They argued that accepting the Georgians was problematic, because of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They were in reality saying that they would not be willing to back Georgia as, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which mandates that an armed attack against any NATO member country must be considered an attack against them all and consequently requires use of collective armed force of all NATO members, it would mean that Europe could be faced with war against Russia over the tiny Caucasus Republic of Georgia, with its incalculable dictator, Saakashvili. That would mean the troubled Caucasus would be on a hair-trigger to detonate World War III.

    Russia threatens Georgia, but Georgia threatens Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia looks like a crocodile to Georgia, but Georgia looks to Russia like the cats' paw of the West. Since Saakashvili took power in late 2003 the Pentagon has been in Georgia giving military aid and training. Not only are US military personnel active in Georgia today. According to an Israeli-intelligence source, DEBKAfile,  in 2007, the Georgian President Saakashvili "commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also have been giving instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel. These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday."

    Debkafile reported further, "Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia, finally threatening a crisis in bilateral relations. Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilisi was 'defensive.'" The Israeli news source added that Israel's interest in Georgia has to do as well with Caspian oil pipeline geopolitics. "Jerusalem has a strong interest in having Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel's oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean."

    This means that the attack on South Ossetia is the first battle in a new proxy warfare between Anglo-American-Israeli led interests and Russia. The only question is whether Washington miscalculated the swiftness and intensity of the Russian response to the Georgian attacks of 8.8.08.

    So far, each step in the Caucasus drama has put the conflict on a yet higher plane of danger. The next step will no longer be just about the Caucasus, or even Europe. In 1914 it was the "Guns of August" that initiated the Great War. This time the Guns of August 2008 could be the detonator of World War III and a nuclear holocaust of unspeakable horror.

    American Mercenary Captured By Russians
    NATO instructor taken hostage with Georgians amid reports of U.S. military commanding thousands of mercs in proxy war
    Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    An American mercenary has been captured by Russian forces along with a number of Georgian soldiers according to a report from the Russian news website Izvestia, providing more evidence that the U.S. and NATO are covertly supporting the Georgian army in a proxy war with Russia.

    According to the report, the mercenary is an African-American who is a NATO instructor and an ordinance specialist. He has now been transferred to the Russian base of Vladikavkaz.

    The story also backs up previous reports of dead black Americans having been found in Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia.


  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    US military surprised by speed, timing of Russia military action
    Aug 11, 2008

    The US military was surprised by the timing and swiftness of the Russian military's move into South Ossetia and is still trying to sort out what happened, a US defense official said Monday.

    Russian forces surged into the breakaway region last week after weeks of clashes, threats and warnings between Tblisi and Moscow which culminated August 6 in a two-day Georgian offensive into South Ossetia.

    That the two countries were on a collision course was no surprise to anyone, but the devastating Russian response was not expected, officials said.

    August 12, 2008
    Georgian army flees in disarray as Russians advance

    The Georgian Army was in complete disarray last night after troops and tanks fled the town of Gori in panic and abandoned it to the Russians without firing a shot.

    As Russian armoured columns rolled deep into central and western Georgia, seizing several towns and a military base, President Saakashvili said that his country had been cut in half.

    Georgia said that the Russian Army was also in command of the towns of Zugdidi and Kurga in the west, and its tanks appeared to be moving from the north and the west towards Tbilisi, the capital.

    The retreat from Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, was as humiliating as it was sudden and dramatic. The Times witnessed scores of tanks and armoured personnel carriers, laden with soldiers, speeding through the town away from what Georgian officials claimed was an imminent Russian invasion.

    The Russian attacks were met with Georgian artillery fire towards South Ossetia, despite President Saakashvili’s statement that he had called a ceasefire. Reporters later witnessed at least six Georgian helicopters attacking targets in South Ossetia.
    Elsewhere, Russian armoured personnel carriers swept into Senaki, 20 miles inland from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti, which Russian troops were also said to be attacking.

    As the noose appeared to tighten around Tbilisi, the US State Department evacuated more than 170 American citizens. Poland and several other former Soviet satellites voiced fears that the fighting indicated Russia’s willingness to use force to regain its dominance of the region.

    Even at the height of the chaos, Georgia’s legendary hospitality never faltered. A 70-year-old woman named Eteri retreated into her home and appeared moments later to offer apples from her garden to her guests. “I am not afraid,” she said. “We have lived with the Russians for 100 years so why do we need this war now? I don’t want to be with America; I think we should live peacefully with the Russians.”

    Abkhaz Forces Launch Offensive Against Georgian Troops

    Russian-backed rebels in Abkhazia say they have begun an operation against Georgian forces, which now appear under pressure on two fronts.

    The rebels say they are trying to push Georgian forces from a strategic gorge in the west of the breakaway province.
    Elsewhere, Georgian troops have withdrawn to defend the capital, Tbilisi, against any Russian assault.

    France's president is visiting Russia and Georgia on Tuesday, despite Russian criticism of a new draft UN resolution.

    Meanwhile the US president has strongly attacked what he called Russia's "invasion". George W Bush said Russian actions in Abkhazia and the other breakaway province of South Ossetia were "unacceptable in the 21st Century" and that Moscow was guilty of a "dramatic and brutal escalation".

    The Russian-backed separatists' government in Abkhazia said its forces aimed to "squeeze" Georgian troops out of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge.

    They launched their attack at 0600 local time (0200 GMT) and Russian TV has reported heavy gunfire and air strikes by what it says are Abkhaz planes.

    There was no immediate confirmation of the offensive from the Georgian government.

    Abkhazia, a much bigger province than South Ossetia, also broke away from Georgia during the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s.

    Russian troops who arrived there in recent days launched raids into Georgia proper on Monday, destroying a military base in the town of Senaki and taking control of another town, Zugdidi.

    Georgia has been withdrawing its troops and armour towards Tbilisi after four days of bloody fighting in South Ossetia with Russian troops and rebel fighters.

    12 August 2008
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says.

    He told officials he had decided to end the campaign after restoring security for Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

    Mr Medvedev's announcement followed fresh reports of Russian warplanes bombing the Georgian town of Gori.

    According to a Kremlin statement, Mr Medvedev told his defence minister and chief of staff that "the goal has been attained".

    "I've decided to finish the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace. The safety of our peacekeeping forces and civilian population has been restored," he said.

    The BBC's James Rodgers, in Moscow, says there is no sign yet that Russia is willing to engage in talks with the government in Tbilisi.

    Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has insisted that Georgia must sign a legally binding document on the non-use of force.

    And Mr Medvedev warned that Russia would not tolerate any further Georgian military activity in South Ossetia, saying: "Should centres of resistance or other aggressive attempts arise, you must take the decision to destroy them."

    Georgia also remained sceptical, the country's prime minister telling Reuters that troops would remain "mobilised... ready for anything" until a binding agreement was signed between the two countries.

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
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    The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power
    by George Friedman
    August 12, 2008

    The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery. This, as we have argued, has opened a window of opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the invasion did not shift the balance of power. The balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that Aug. 8.

    Let’s begin simply by reviewing the last few days.

    On the night of Thursday, Aug. 7, forces of the Republic of Georgia drove across the border of South Ossetia, a secessionist region of Georgia that has functioned as an independent entity since the fall of the Soviet Union. The forces drove on to the capital, Tskhinvali, which is close to the border. Georgian forces got bogged down while trying to take the city. In spite of heavy fighting, they never fully secured the city, nor the rest of South Ossetia.

    On the morning of Aug. 8, Russian forces entered South Ossetia, using armored and motorized infantry forces along with air power. South Ossetia was informally aligned with Russia, and Russia acted to prevent the region’s absorption by Georgia. Given the speed with which the Russians responded — within hours of the Georgian attack — the Russians were expecting the Georgian attack and were themselves at their jumping-off points. The counterattack was carefully planned and competently executed, and over the next 48 hours, the Russians succeeded in defeating the main Georgian force and forcing a retreat. By Sunday, Aug. 10, the Russians had consolidated their position in South Ossetia.

    On Monday, the Russians extended their offensive into Georgia proper, attacking on two axes. One was south from South Ossetia to the Georgian city of Gori. The other drive was from Abkhazia, another secessionist region of Georgia aligned with the Russians. This drive was designed to cut the road between the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and its ports. By this point, the Russians had bombed the military airfields at Marneuli and Vaziani and appeared to have disabled radars at the international airport in Tbilisi. These moves brought Russian forces to within 40 miles of the Georgian capital, while making outside reinforcement and resupply of Georgian forces extremely difficult should anyone wish to undertake it.

    The Mystery Behind the Georgian Invasion
    In this simple chronicle, there is something quite mysterious: Why did the Georgians choose to invade South Ossetia on Thursday night? There had been a great deal of shelling by the South Ossetians of Georgian villages for the previous three nights, but while possibly more intense than usual, artillery exchanges were routine. The Georgians might not have fought well, but they committed fairly substantial forces that must have taken at the very least several days to deploy and supply. Georgia’s move was deliberate.

    The United States is Georgia’s closest ally. It maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government and people doing business in Georgia. It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia’s mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that the Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?

    It is very difficult to imagine that the Georgians launched their attack against U.S. wishes. The Georgians rely on the United States, and they were in no position to defy it. This leaves two possibilities. The first is a massive breakdown in intelligence, in which the United States either was unaware of the existence of Russian forces, or knew of the Russian forces but — along with the Georgians — miscalculated Russia’s intentions. The second is that the United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when the Russian military was in shambles and the Russian government was paralyzed. The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s-1980s. The Russians had systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that the Russians would not risk the consequences of an invasion.

    If this was the case, then it points to the central reality of this situation: The Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia and the United States and Europe could not respond. As for risk, they did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no counter. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well — indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans needed the Russians more than the Russians needed the Americans. Moscow’s calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months, as we have discussed, and they struck.

    The Western Encirclement of Russia
    To understand Russian thinking, we need to look at two events. The first is the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
    From the U.S. and European point of view, the Orange Revolution represented a triumph of democracy and Western influence. From the Russian point of view, as Moscow made clear, the Orange Revolution was a CIA-funded intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, designed to draw Ukraine into NATO and add to the encirclement of Russia. U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had promised the Russians that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet Union empire. That promise had already been broken in 1998 by NATO’s expansion to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — and again in the 2004 expansion, which absorbed not only the rest of the former Soviet satellites in what is now Central Europe, but also the three Baltic states, which had been components of the Soviet Union.

    The Russians had tolerated all that, but the discussion of including Ukraine in NATO represented a fundamental threat to Russia’s national security. It would have rendered Russia indefensible and threatened to destabilize the Russian Federation itself. When the United States went so far as to suggest that Georgia be included as well, bringing NATO deeper into the Caucasus, the Russian conclusion — publicly stated — was that the United States in particular intended to encircle and break Russia. The second and lesser event was the decision by Europe and the United States to back Kosovo’s separation from Serbia. The Russians were friendly with Serbia, but the deeper issue for Russia was this: The principle of Europe since World War II was that, to prevent conflict, national borders would not be changed. If that principle were violated in Kosovo, other border shifts — including demands by various regions for independence from Russia — might follow. The Russians publicly and privately asked that Kosovo not be given formal independence, but instead continue its informal autonomy, which was the same thing in practical terms. Russia’s requests were ignored.

    From the Ukrainian experience, the Russians became convinced that the United States was engaged in a plan of strategic encirclement and strangulation of Russia. From the Kosovo experience, they concluded that the United States and Europe were not prepared to consider Russian wishes even in fairly minor affairs. That was the breaking point. If Russian desires could not be accommodated even in a minor matter like this, then clearly Russia and the West were in conflict. For the Russians, as we said, the question was how to respond. Having declined to respond in Kosovo, the Russians decided to respond where they had all the cards: in South Ossetia.

    Moscow had two motives, the lesser of which was as a tit-for-tat over Kosovo. If Kosovo could be declared independent under Western sponsorship, then South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two breakaway regions of Georgia, could be declared independent under Russian sponsorship. Any objections from the United States and Europe would simply confirm their hypocrisy. This was important for internal Russian political reasons, but the second motive was far more important.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin once said that the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical disaster. This didn’t mean that he wanted to retain the Soviet state; rather, it meant that the disintegration of the Soviet Union had created a situation in which Russian national security was threatened by Western interests. As an example, consider that during the Cold War, St. Petersburg was about 1,200 miles away from a NATO country. Today it is about 60 miles away from Estonia, a NATO member. The disintegration of the Soviet Union had left Russia surrounded by a group of countries hostile to Russian interests in various degrees and heavily influenced by the United States, Europe and, in some cases, China.

    Resurrecting the Russian Sphere
    Putin did not want to re-establish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re-establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union region. To accomplish that, he had to do two things. First, he had to re-establish the credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in the context of its region. Second, he had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power. He did not want to confront NATO directly, but he did want to confront and defeat a power that was closely aligned with the United States, had U.S. support, aid and advisers and was widely seen as being under American protection. Georgia was the perfect choice.

    By invading Georgia as Russia did (competently if not brilliantly), Putin re-established the credibility of the Russian army. But far more importantly, by doing this Putin revealed an open secret: While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value. This lesson is not for American consumption. It is something that, from the Russian point of view, the Ukrainians, the Balts and the Central Asians need to digest. Indeed, it is a lesson Putin wants to transmit to Poland and the Czech Republic as well. The United States wants to place ballistic missile defense installations in those countries, and the Russians want them to understand that allowing this to happen increases their risk, not their security.

    The Russians knew the United States would denounce their attack. This actually plays into Russian hands. The more vocal senior leaders are, the greater the contrast with their inaction, and the Russians wanted to drive home the idea that American guarantees are empty talk.

    The Russians also know something else that is of vital importance: For the United States, the Middle East is far more important than the Caucasus, and Iran is particularly important. The United States wants the Russians to participate in sanctions against Iran. Even more importantly, they do not want the Russians to sell weapons to Iran, particularly the highly effective S-300 air defense system. Georgia is a marginal issue to the United States; Iran is a central issue. The Russians are in a position to pose serious problems for the United States not only in Iran, but also with weapons sales to other countries, like Syria.

    Therefore, the United States has a problem — it either must reorient its strategy away from the Middle East and toward the Caucasus, or it has to seriously limit its response to Georgia to avoid a Russian counter in Iran. Even if the United States had an appetite for another war in Georgia at this time, it would have to calculate the Russian response in Iran — and possibly in Afghanistan (even though Moscow’s interests there are currently aligned with those of Washington).

    In other words, the Russians have backed the Americans into a corner. The Europeans, who for the most part lack expeditionary militaries and are dependent upon Russian energy exports, have even fewer options. If nothing else happens, the Russians will have demonstrated that they have resumed their role as a regional power. Russia is not a global power by any means, but a significant regional power with lots of nuclear weapons and an economy that isn’t all too shabby at the moment. It has also compelled every state on the Russian periphery to re-evaluate its position relative to Moscow. As for Georgia, the Russians appear ready to demand the resignation of President Mikhail Saakashvili. Militarily, that is their option. That is all they wanted to demonstrate, and they have demonstrated it.

    The war in Georgia, therefore, is Russia’s public return to great power status. This is not something that just happened — it has been unfolding ever since Putin took power, and with growing intensity in the past five years. Part of it has to do with the increase of Russian power, but a great deal of it has to do with the fact that the Middle Eastern wars have left the United States off-balance and short on resources. As we have written, this conflict created a window of opportunity. The Russian goal is to use that window to assert a new reality throughout the region while the Americans are tied down elsewhere and dependent on the Russians. The war was far from a surprise; it has been building for months. But the geopolitical foundations of the war have been building since 1992. Russia has been an empire for centuries. The last 15 years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration that would be rectified. And now it is being rectified.

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
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    The view from South Ossetia: Joy and thanks in the land that is now part of Russia
    by Matt Siegel in Tskhinvali

    Wednesday, 13 August 2008

    In a courtyard lined with rubble, trays of meat and bread are brought forth, and homemade, slightly bitter wine to wash it down. Hardly a lavish feast, but for the residents of this bombed-out building in the South Ossetian capital, this is a true liberation banquet.

    Sons who had been off fighting are reunited with their mothers. Elderly residents who had spent days hunkering down in basements to avoid mortar shells and bullets emerge, squinting at the sunlight. They toast each other's health, the fact that they have survived, and the people they view as their liberators – the Russians.

    As Russian tanks and trucks loaded with rocket launchers roll through the smouldering streets, the few civilians left in Tskhinvali repeat "thank you, thank you" over and over. Some have tears rolling down their faces, others salute and cheer. One elderly man simply stands to attention, closes his eyes and makes the sign of the cross.

    Moscow may have earned worldwide condemnation for using "disproportionate force" and extending the battle beyond the disputed province of South Ossetia, into Georgia proper. Not in this town, where many hold Russian passports and use the rouble as their currency. Here, the Russians are saviours.

    "It looks like a small Stalingrad, doesn't it?" says Teimuraz Pliyev, 62. "Barbarians! Look – this is Georgian democracy. If it weren't for Russia, we would already have been buried here."

    "Georgians" and "Genocide" come up again and again in these crumpled streets, always in the same breath. "I saw a Georgian soldier throw a grenade into a basement full of women and children," rages Sarmat Tskhovredov, 28, who joined to fight on the spur of the moment. "The young men ran, but the women and the infirm who could not leave were shot like dogs."

    It is the Russian special forces who have brought a handful of foreign journalists from North Ossetia into South Ossetia, on an embed where movements are controlled and stops selected. The group starts off in a convoy of buses but 30 miles from the border, the Russians say they are still concerned about Georgian snipers and we are all moved into armoured personnel carriers. We hear the odd artillery explosions but the feared snipers never materialise.

    As we get closer to Tskhinvali, plumes of black smoke are visible. South Ossetia is still burning. Either side of the road leading in from the north – the road that Russian forces would have travelled to retake the province – is utter devastation. There are few civilians to be seen, many have fled as refugees into North Ossetia and those that remain are elderly or young irregular fighters who joined forces with the Russians to chase the Georgians out of town.

    Tskhinvali was in a sorry state before this last outbreak of fighting, still bearing the scars from the 1991-92 war when it broke from Georgian rule. Now in the town centre, buildings are still alight, flames shooting up from roofless shells. Those structures that are not burning are covered in bullet holes and shrapnel wounds, showers of glass from blown-out windows on the ground. Other buildings have simply collapsed. In front of the university, where students once gathered, lie the mangled wrecks of three Georgian tanks – a barrel here, some tread track there.

    At the hospital, the operating room was moved to the basement. We are told that 200 people were treated here. They have been evacuated, but the bloody walls, stained stretchers and hastily-abandoned dressings remain, as does the stench of human waste. The corpses that were dotted about the streets at the weekend seem to have all been recovered. Residents say that some were hastily buried in backyards, deprived of proper rites because they were decomposing in the heat.

    Other victims are now receiving a more traditional farewell. On a hill outside Tskhinvali, black-clad mourners gather around an open coffin to pay their final respects, as another Russian military convoy rumbles by.

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
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    McCain adviser got money from Georgia
    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 
    by Pete Yost 

    WASHINGTON (AP) — John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

    The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann's personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue.

    McCain warned Russian leaders Tuesday that their assault in Georgia risks "the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world."

    On April 17, a month and a half after Scheunemann stopped working for Georgia, his partner signed a $200,000 agreement with the Georgian government. The deal added to an arrangement that brought in more than $800,000 to the two-man firm from 2004 to mid-2007. For the duration of the campaign, Scheunemann is taking a leave of absence from the firm.

    "Scheunemann's work as a lobbyist poses valid questions about McCain's judgment in choosing someone who — and whose firm — are paid to promote the interests of other nations," said New York University law professor Stephen Gillers. "So one must ask whether McCain is getting disinterested advice, at least when the issues concern those nations."

    "If McCain wants advice from someone whose private interests as a once and future lobbyist may affect the objectivity of the advice, that's his choice to make."

    McCain has been to Georgia three times since 1997 and "this is an issue that he has been involved with for well over a decade," said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

    McCain's strong condemnation in recent days of Russia's military action against Georgia as "totally, absolutely unacceptable" reflects long-standing ties between McCain and hardline conservatives such as Scheunemann, an aide in the 1990s to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

    Scheunemann, who also was a foreign policy adviser in McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, has for years traveled the same road as McCain in pushing for regime change in Iraq and promoting NATO membership for Georgia and other former Soviet republics.

    While their politics coincide, Russia's invasion of Georgia casts a spotlight on Scheunemann's business interests and McCain's conduct as a senator.

    Scheunemann's firm lobbied McCain's office on four bills and resolutions regarding Georgia, with McCain as a co-sponsor or supporter of all of them.

    In addition to the 49 contacts with McCain or his staff regarding Georgia, Scheunemann's firm has lobbied the senator or his aides on at least 47 occasions since 2001 on behalf of the governments of Taiwan and Macedonia, which each paid Scheunemann and his partner Mike Mitchell over half a million dollars; Romania, which paid over $400,000; and Latvia, which paid nearly $250,000. Federal law requires Scheunemann to publicly disclose to the Justice Department all his lobbying contacts as an agent of a foreign government.

    After contacts with McCain's staff, the senator introduced a resolution saluting the people of Georgia on the first anniversary of the Rose Revolution that brought Mikhail Saakashvili to power.

    Four months ago, on the same day that Scheunemann's partner signed the latest $200,000 agreement with Georgia, McCain spoke with Saakashvili by phone. The senator then issued a strong statement saying that "we must not allow Russia to believe it has a free hand to engage in policies that undermine Georgian sovereignty."

    Rogers, the McCain campaign spokesman, said the call took place at the request of the embassy of Georgia. And McCain campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace added that the senator has full confidence in Scheunemann. "We're proud of anyone who has worked on the side of angels in fledgling democracies," she said in an interview.

    McCain called Saakashvili again on Tuesday. "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I said to him, today, we are all Georgians," McCain told a cheering crowd in York, Pa. McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama, had spoken with Saakashvili the day before.

    In 2005 and 2006, McCain signed onto a resolution expressing support for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia; introduced a resolution expressing support for a peace plan for Georgia's breakaway province of Ossetia; and co-sponsored a measure supporting admission of four nations including Georgia into NATO.

    On Tuesday, McCain told Fox News that "as you know, through the NATO membership, ... if a member nation is attacked, it is viewed as an attack on all."

    Scheunemann's lobbying firm is one of three that he has operated since 1999, with clients including BP Amoco, defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and the National Rifle Association.

    Scheunemann is part of the community of neoconservatives who relentlessly pushed for war in Iraq.

    No one in Washington is more closely aligned with the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq than prominent neoconservatives, who for years had regime change in Iraq as a goal as part of their philosophy that the United States shouldn't be reluctant to use its power, both diplomatic and military, to spread democracy and to guarantee world order.

    Now, McCain and other politicians who pushed for the invasion are seeking to emphasize the progress, albeit fragile, of the current troop surge in Iraq.

    In the months before the war began, Scheuenemann ran the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, set up in November 2002 when public support for the looming invasion was eroding.

    Before that, Scheunemann was on board with the Project for the New American Century, whose letter to Bush nine days after the Sept. 11 attacks pointed to Iraq as a possible link to the terrorists.
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
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    McCain Speaks for Every American?
    by Gordon Prather
    August 16, 2008

    Addressing fellow Americans in Pennsylvania, John McCain, presumptive Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States, said he had spoken by telephone earlier that day with President Mikheil Saakashvili, of Georgia, then still a member – along with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, and the Russian Federation – of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

    "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, today, we are all Georgians."

    Georgia promptly "quit" the CIS; the Russians say they were fired.

    You may wonder how McCain can possibly think he speaks for you and yours.

    Well, he says that two years ago he traveled to South Ossetia (the part of Ossetia that is now in Georgia, just South of North Ossetia, the part of Ossetia that is now in Russia) and "saw an enormous billboard that read 'Vladimir Putin, Our President.'"
    That made him furious and he just knew it would make you furious, too.

    Would it have?

    South Ossetia had long ago been declared a semi-autonomous region, administratively controlled by Russian 'peacekeepers.' Furthermore, most of its inhabitants had been offered citizenship in the neighboring Russian Federation, many even issued Russian passports.

    But of course, McCain already knew all that. Randall Scheunemann, now McCain's top foreign policy adviser – and until March 2008 a registered lobbyist for the Republic of Georgia – accompanied McCain on that 2006 trip.

    Furthermore, according to's Mark Benjamin, as a result of intense lobbying by Scheunemann, in 2006 McCain co-sponsored legislation endorsing an expansion of NATO to include not only Georgia, but Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, as well.
    Scheunemann had previously successfully lobbied for NATO membership for Latvia and Romania.

    Now, it's obvious why Scheunemann wanted NATO membership for Latvia, Romania, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and Georgia; they were paying him millions of dollars to achieve it.

    But why did McCain want NATO membership for these countries, especially Georgia, a CIS member, having within it two provinces originally given cultural and administrative autonomy by Stalin, a Georgian, each bordering on Russia, each containing majorities to whom Russian citizenship has now been extended, and to whom Russia continues to provide cultural and administrative autonomy?

    Well, as McCain, himself, explains it, he intends – if elected President – to move forward "at the right time" with the application for membership in NATO by Georgia.

    "As you know, through NATO membership, that if a member nation is attacked, it is viewed as an attack on all [members]. We don't have, I think, right now, the ability to intervene in any way except in a humanitarian, economic way, and do what we can to help the Georgians."

    Apparently McCain has read Pat Buchanan's latest book, Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War.

    Buchanan convincingly argues that the Brit guarantee to come to Poland's aid, in the event the Danzig Corridor crisis of 1939 could not be settled diplomatically – which could have merely involved the agreement by Poland to establish the Danzig Corridor, heavily populated by Germans, as a culturally and administratively autonomous region – was absolute madness.

    Furthermore, many of the Brits in and out of His Majesty's Government at the time knew it was madness.

    Why is Buchanan's documentation of the madness of the Brits – offering gratuitous guarantees to Poland they could not honor – important today to you and yours?

    Because, first Clinton-Gore, and now Bush-Cheney, have already made similar guarantees to Poland as well as to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia.

    Worse, McCain, potentially the next President, is hell-bent on making those guarantees to Georgia and Ukraine!

    But, fortunately for us and the rest of the world, McCain says he doesn't think it's yet the "right time" for Georgia to become a NATO member.

    You see, McCain doesn't think that we're ready, "right now", to intervene, militarily, in Georgia, as he believes the NATO Charter would have required us to do had Georgia been a NATO member. Evidently, McCain doesn't want to give Georgia or Ukraine guarantees until he feels he's in a position to honor them.

    So, what can we expect McCain to do in his first term – other than to "bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb Iran" and its Russian-built nuclear power plant from permanent bases in Iraq?

    Well, first of all, kick Russia out of the G-8.

    Then re-institute the draft and vastly increase the size of our conventional ground forces and that of our NATO allies.
    Finally, make Georgia and Ukraine members of NATO and wait for Russia to make some move – such as raising the price of natural gas to Ukraine – that McCain can use as an excuse to "bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb" Da Bear.

    President Bush has been aggressively pushing for Georgia and Ukraine to be allowed to take the first step towards becoming bona-fide NATO members. And in the view of the neo-crazies in Washington – in and out of government – the refusal thus far by France, Germany and others to initiate the NATO membership process "might have been viewed as a green light by Russia for its attacks on Georgia."

    But according to Time magazine, many NATO members draw the opposite conclusion. Their view is that the aggressive pushing by Bush-Cheney to grant Georgia NATO membership emboldened Saskashvili to launch his "reckless attack" on South Ossetia.
    That's what Time said; "reckless attack"!

    Another thing: NATO's force of 70,000 troops is barely managing to "tread water" in Afghanistan, battling the same tribesmen who fought to a standstill a Soviet force three or four times as large.

    Then, of course, there's the price – even availability – of heating oil, natural gas and gasoline, which Russia is in such a unique position to influence, especially in Europe.

    That won't be much of a consideration for President McCain, but you "nation of whiners" might think about it, more than somewhat, before November.

    As for that billboard in South Ossetia that upset McCain so much; it probably now reads "Vladimir Putin; Our Saviour."

    Russia: Georgia can 'forget' regaining provinces
    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — The foreign minister of Russia said Thursday that Georgia could "forget about" getting back its two breakaway provinces, and the former Soviet republic remained on edge as Russia sent tank columns to search out and destroy Georgian military equipment.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a blunt message to Georgia and the world that appeared to challenge President Bush's demand a day earlier that Russia must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.

    "One can forget about any talk about Georgia's territorial integrity because, I believe, it is impossible to persuade South Ossetia and Abkhazia to agree with the logic that they can be forced back into the Georgian state."

    Georgia leader signs truce, but will Russia leave?
    Friday, August 15, 2008 

    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia's president grudgingly signed a truce with Russia Friday, even as he denounced the Russians as invading barbarians and accused the West of all but encouraging them to overrun his country. A stone-faced Condoleezza Rice, standing alongside, said Russian troops must withdraw immediately from their smaller neighbor.

    President Bush talked tough, too, accusing the Russians of "bullying and intimidation," but neither he nor Rice said what the U.S. might do if Russia ignored them.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's press office had no information Friday night on whether he had signed the cease-fire agreement. Russia's foreign minister assured Rice later that his country would implement the deal "faithfully," a U.S. official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Rice's conversation was private, said Russia was likely to sign the deal Saturday.

    As the secretary of state spoke in Tbilisi, Russian forces remained camped out just 25 miles away.
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
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    Mikheil Saakashvili:
War Criminal
    by Justin Raimondo
    August 15, 2008


    A politician's hubris causes untold human suffering

    Amid all the geopolitical analyses and ideological posturing on the occasion of the Three-Day War between Russia and Georgia, we are losing sight of the very real human costs of this conflict: thousands of civilians killed and grievously wounded, a city, Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, in ruins, and the hopes and dreams of the inhabitants of this largely overlooked backwater dashed on the rocks of a politician's hubris.

    That politician is Mikheil Saakashvili, the all too glib president of Georgia, whose slickness is so apparent that it seems to leave an oily residue on every word he utters. The decidedly apolitical, non-ideological Web site Reliefweb put it this way: "The place that has suffered most is South Ossetia which is home to both ethnic Ossetians and Georgians, the latter accounting for about a third of the population. The destruction there has been appalling and it looks as though many hundreds of civilians have died, in the first place as a result of the initial Georgian assault of August 7-8. Gosha Tselekhayev, an Ossetian interpreter in Tskhinvali with whom I spoke by telephone on August 10 said, 'I am standing in the city center, but there's no city left.'

    "Ossetians fleeing the conflict zone talk of Georgian atrocities and the indiscriminate killing of civilians." They may be talking of Georgian atrocities, but we in the West have not heard them – nor will we, given the bias of our media, which is in thrall to the Georgia lobby and its U.S. government sponsors. The "mainstream" has already settled on a narrative to explain events in the Caucasus, and nothing short of a South Ossetian holocaust will wake them from their hypnotic state. The Russians, in their view, have got to be the bad guys, i.e., the aggressors. Anything that doesn't fit into that storyline is cut from the script.

    Yet, as Reliefweb reports: "On August 7, after days of shooting incidents in the South Ossetian conflict zone, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili made a speech in which he said that he had given the Georgian villagers orders not to fire, that he wanted to offer South Ossetia 'unlimited autonomy' within the Georgian state, with Russia to be a guarantor of the arrangement. "Both sides said they were discussing a meeting the next day to discuss how to defuse the clashes."

    That evening, however, Saakashvili went for the military option. The Georgian military launched a massive artillery attack on Tskhinvali, followed the next day by a ground assault involving tanks.

    "This was a city with no pure military targets, full of civilians who had been given no warning and were expecting peace talks at any moment."

    As if to underscore the utter indifference of Western media to the suffering of anyone politically incorrect enough to be pro-Russian, CNN broadcast footage of war-torn Tskhinvali even as its news announcer solemnly "reported" that the Russians were wreaking devastation on a city in Georgia proper, a classic case of the Orwellian media manipulation techniques that pass for journalism in the West. An unintended irony: the footage was a few feet from the spot where Russian peacekeepers had been slaughtered, the first victims of the Georgian assault. Or was it intended?

    The tragicomic aspects of this media-induced cognitive dissonance came to the fore on Fox News the other day, when the announcer was interviewing a 12-year-old American girl who happened to be sitting in a café in Tskhinvali when Georgian bombs started raining down on her head. The announcer's eyebrows shot up when the girl thanked the Russian soldiers. After the girl and her aunt finished their recounting of Georgian atrocities, the announcer capped off his report by intoning: "There are gray areas in war."

    The matter of attacking civilians is no doubt a moral "gray area" for the neocons at Fox, but what about the rest of the media – or is there no longer much of a difference, at least when it comes to the Russian question?

    The Georgians were the aggressors here, and not only that, it was a particularly vicious sneak attack, undertaken while "peace talks" were supposedly taking place. As Reliefweb put it: "The attack looked designed to take everybody by surprise – perhaps because much of the Russian leadership was in Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games. It also unilaterally destroyed the negotiating and peacekeeping arrangements, under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, that have been in place for 16 years. Russian peacekeeping troops based in South Ossetia were among those killed in the Georgian assault."

    The Georgian offensive provoked a massive exodus to the north. Thousands fled, and with good reason. As the Guardian reports:
    "Many had traveled in their nightclothes on rocky roads through the mountains and gave bloodcurdling accounts of Georgian atrocities. 'I came in the boot of a car. Georgian snipers were firing at us from the forest. My brother stayed to fight. Our grandparents' home was reduced to rubble. We don't know where they are. Nothing is left of their village. It was totally destroyed by rockets and tank fire,' Alisa Mamiyeva, 26, a teacher in Tskhinvali, said from the safety of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia."

    The South Ossetians claim 1,400 dead, thus far, most of them victims of the Georgian assault on Tskhinvali, and Vladimir Putin went so far as to accuse the Georgians of launching a "genocide." According to the BBC, however, "Russia failed to back up its claims of Georgian atrocities." Not that the West is all that interested in airing the evidence. As Variety put it in a piece on how this war is being reported, "Coverage in the U.S. and Europe is leaning heavily toward reports on the Georgian casualties of Russian bombing over the weekend. Few details are being given about the thousands said to have been killed when Georgia attacked Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, on Thursday and Friday."

    The blatant media bias displayed by the "mainstream" news organizations is more than matched by the shameful cover-up of Georgian atrocities by the mainline "human rights" organizations, first and foremost Human Rights Watch. In the most brazen display of willful ignorance since Walter Duranty overlooked the Soviet gulags, HRW spokeswoman Anna Neistat told the Guardian that Ossetian claims of Georgian atrocities were "suspicious": "The figure of 2,000 people killed is very doubtful. Our findings so far do not in any way confirm the Russian statistics. On the contrary, they suggest the numbers are exaggerated."

    Neistat avers that no more than 44 were killed and around 200 were wounded in the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali. Perhaps she should talk to International Red Cross spokeswoman Anna Nelson, who reports area hospitals "overflowing" with the dead and the wounded.

    The voices of the Ossetians are barely reaching the West, but when they do – as in this Australian Broadcasting Corp. news report – they underscore the sheer ugliness of HRW's appalling apologetics: "One woman told how a family of four including two children tried to flee from a Georgian tank but it 'fired on their car and they were all burned' to death, said Angela, who like all the refugees only gave her first name. In another incident, a woman eight months pregnant and two family members fleeing from the city under attack were hit by tank fire and 'nothing remained of them,' Angela said.

    "She saw the Georgian tanks roll into Tskhinvali, the soldiers shouting 'Hail Saakashvili,' who is the president of Georgia. 'They destroyed the city,' added Inna, 33, who said she could not understand how the Georgian troops 'could do that to civilians.'
    "'You see your friend's home burning and there's nothing you can do. You just watch and cry, it's a genocide,' Inna said. An old woman among the refugees said all she had left was the dress she was wearing. 'My house is destroyed,' she said."

    More important than the hypocrisy and ideology-induced moral myopia of the "human rights" crowd, however, is the very real human suffering that is being pointedly overlooked. These are real people being killed and rendered homeless, people who now live in terror and uncertainty while we in the West sit around discussing the geopolitical implications as if individual human beings were pieces on a chessboard.

    The U.S. is now delivering "humanitarian" aid under the aegis and protection of the U.S. military, a gesture that underscores the Bizarro World absurdity of a foreign policy that has us arming the Georgians and then paying to clean up the damage done by our proxies. This is truly an odd sort of "humanitarianism," one inextricably linked to the inveterate sadism of our foreign policy.

    This "humanitarian" gambit is just that: a device designed to legitimize our growing intervention in the region. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates is clearly not at all thrilled by the prospect of U.S. soldiers entering the battle zone, it seems unavoidable, at some point, since we'll be supervising "humanitarian" flights and relief efforts. (Not to mention future military joint exercises involving U.S. and Georgian forces, such as the ones that concluded shortly before the war commenced.) With Russian troops intent on staying in Ossetia, Abkhazia, and other regions such as Adjaria eager to take this opportunity to break free of the Georgian central government, the likelihood of renewed fighting is high

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    In the guise of humanitarian aid
Bush dispatches US military forces to Georgia
    Barry Grey
    August 14, 2008

    In a major escalation of the conflict with Russia over Georgia, President George W. Bush on Wednesday announced a "vigorous and ongoing" deployment of US military forces to its key ally in the Caucasus. Bush appeared in the White House Rose Garden for the second time in three days, this time flanked by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and announced the military buildup, casting it as a humanitarian relief operation.

    Even as he spoke of a humanitarian mission, Bush made clear the military dimensions of the measures he was announcing. He said he was directing Pentagon chief Gates to lead the mission, which would be "headed by the United States military." He announced that a C-17 military aircraft was already on its way to Georgia and that "in the days ahead we will use US aircraft, as well as naval forces, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies."

    This is a formula for an injection of US military and naval forces into Georgia of indeterminate scope and duration. It will certainly involve the presence of hundreds if not thousands of uniformed US military personnel on the ground, and a substantial number of warships in the region. The US is introducing this military force into a situation that remains highly unstable and combustible, raising the possibility of a direct military clash between the United States and Russia.


    On Thin Ice
    by Ted Galen Carpenter

    Shortly before noon yesterday, President Bush issued a statement in the Rose Garden about the military conflict between Russia and Georgia. Most of his statement could be classified as wishful thinking and diplomatic posturing. For example, he proclaimed that the United States “stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia,” and that “we insist” that the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected. There were also vague threats that Washington might no longer support Moscow’s bid for integration into important international diplomatic and economic institutions.

    The reality is that the United States has only limited leverage in this conflict. True, Washington could, for example, block Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, which would deny the country some important economic opportunities. But Russia has some counterleverage at its disposal. Most notably, as a major energy exporter in a world hungry for energy supplies, Russia is not likely to be “isolated,” as some overwrought American hawks demand.

    One passage in the president’s statement is cause for alarm, however. He announced that he was directing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to execute a “humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia, headed by the United States military.” Bush stated that a C-17 transport plane loaded with humanitarian supplies was already on its way, and that in the days ahead U.S. military aircraft and naval forces would be tasked with delivering aid.

    That is a reckless move. The supposed cease-fire that was proclaimed on Tuesday seems largely ineffectual. Without a reliable truce in place, U.S. military forces would be entering a volatile war zone. Moreover, there was no indication that Bush was asking the Russians for permission. Indeed, his statement had all the characteristics of a demand—or a dare. “We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads, and airspace remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

    The arrogance of that position is breathtaking. When a major cyclone created widespread devastation in Burma earlier this year, some proponents of humanitarian aid urged the U.S. military to compel delivery even in the teeth of opposition from the Burmese junta. American leaders rejected their pleas, however, deeming such an operation to be too dangerous. Apparently that situation was considered more dangerous than barging into a war zone where the military forces of a nuclear-armed power are conducting military operations.

    Washington is creating a situation in which one nervous or trigger-happy Russian soldier could ignite an extremely ugly and perilous confrontation. Indeed, it might not even be a Russian soldier. Military units from Georgia’s secessionist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are operating alongside their Russian allies. The degree of training and discipline of those forces is difficult to determine, but it is likely to be inferior to that of the Russian army. It is not a wild stretch of the imagination to conceive of one of those irregular units not getting the message that it would be a really bad idea to impede the mission of American military personnel. One suspects that the goal of the U.S. venture is not purely humanitarian. The humanitarian justification is likely—at least in part—a cover for an attempt to establish a bridgehead of U.S. military and political influence in Georgia to thwart the advance of Russian power.

    If so, the Bush administration is taking an extraordinary risk for very limited stakes. There might be some places in the world that are less relevant than Georgia to the security and liberty of the American people, but it would take a concerted search to find them. The conflict in Georgia is a tragedy with murky roots, and one certainly grieves for the innocent people caught up in the violence. But it will solve nothing for the United States to blunder into that conflict. Bush’s hasty, intrusive humanitarian-aid mission creates precisely that danger.
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Encircling Russia
    by John Churian
    May 7, 2004

    The latest expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by taking in seven countries, all except one of them members of the erstwhile Warsaw Pact, is a step closer to the encirclement of Russia by the Western military alliance.

    ON March 29, United States President George W. Bush formally welcomed seven new members to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) at a ceremony in the White House. The new members are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Except Slovenia, all of them were part of the Warsaw Pact, which was the military counter-weight to NATO in Europe during the Cold War. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union.

    President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Mikhail Gorbachev was given an assurance by the West prior to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall that NATO too would be disbanded eventually. Many in the West argued that with the disappearance of the so-called Communist threat, the rationale for the existence of NATO no longer existed. In retrospect, Washington had long-term plans aimed at ensuring its continued military dominance in East and Central Europe.

    NATO was formed on April 4, 1949, by 12 countries - Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first formal expansion of NATO took place in 1999, when three former Warsaw Pact members, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, were welcomed into the alliance.

    Moscow, while not publicly pressing the panic button, has reasons to be worried. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said that his country will be forced to revise its defence policy unless NATO revised its military doctrine. "Why is an organisation that was designed to oppose the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe still necessary in today's world?" he asked. The Russian leadership had made it clear to the U.S. that it considers the recent expansion as an unfriendly step and an extension of U.S. hegemony into Central-Eastern Europe. With the U.S. pulling all the strings in NATO, that means the setting up of U.S. military bases and deep penetration by the U.S. of the military and security systems of East Europe. NATO encirclement will also mean that U.S. missiles will be seconds away from Moscow and U.S. spy planes will be constantly snooping on Russian defence and scientific installations.

    Even some NATO members, notably France and Germany, are not too happy with the unseemly haste with which the new members have been brought in. The seven new members form part of what U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has characterised as "new Europe". The U.S. hopes to downsize further the influence of Western Europe in NATO as it completes the encirclement of Russia. With the addition of the new members, NATO's access to the Kalingrad region as well as the Black Sea will be further circumscribed.

    By European standards, barring Slovenia, the new members are relatively poor but are all part of President Bush's "coalition of the willing" in the so-called `War on Terror'. Membership of NATO was one of the inducements offered to these countries. U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel had described the new NATO members as the "Coalition of the Bought" last year. In lieu of their token participation in Iraq, the Bush administration had given these countries a lot of inducements, including the setting up of a $100-million Central European Investment Fund, enhanced trade status and easier access to international capital. Many of the new members joined the "coalition of the willing" without taking their Parliaments or people into confidence. NATO is being expanded when older NATO members such as Spain, which is the sixth biggest contributor of troops, have given notice that they are withdrawing troops from Iraq. The new NATO members have so far contributed only a token number of soldiers.

    The Russian Defence Minster, in a signed article, has said that Russia has valid reasons to be concerned about NATO's ongoing expansion, particularly if it goes ahead with the plan to build big military bases in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. "The alliance is gaining greater ability to control and monitor Russian territory. We cannot turn a blind eye as NATO's air and military bases get much closer to cities and defence complexes in European Russia," he wrote. Russia has also expressed its concerns about NATO's new priorities, which are contrary to its charter and stated goals. At the NATO summit held in Prague in 2002, the alliance agreed to undertake military operations even outside the territory of member-nations, whenever deemed necessary, without a United Nations mandate. "Any NATO actions not approved by the U.N. should therefore be considered illegal - including `preventive wars' like that in Iraq," wrote Ivanov. He told the Russian media in early April that he regretted that NATO was "much more concerned about the deployment of military bases and strike aircraft as close to the Russian borders as possible."

    The next round of expansion could involve Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries, completing the geopolitical encirclement of Russia. Some Russian commentators say that the eastward expansion of NATO constitutes the biggest threat to their country since the Great Patriotic War (Second World War ). Before its neighbours joined NATO, Russia had nothing to fear from their armies. Now it has to confront the might of NATO at its doorstep. Statements by Western leaders that they consider Russia as "a partner not an enemy" will no longer be taken seriously.

    Poland decides it will accept U.S. missile-interceptor base
    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Warsaw, Poland -- Poland reached an agreement with the United States on Thursday to base American missile interceptors on its soil, the Polish prime minister said, going ahead with a plan that has angered Russia and threatened to escalate tensions with the region's communist-era master. Speaking in an interview televised on news channel TVN24, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the United States had agreed to help augment Poland's defenses with Patriot missiles in exchange for placing 10 missile defense interceptors in the eastern European country. The United States has also reached an agreement with the Czech Republic's government to place a radar component of the missile defense system in that country.

    Russia: Poland risks attack due to U.S. missiles
    Infuriated Moscow issues threat in reaction to deal on interceptor base

    Fri., Aug. 15, 2008

    WARSAW, Poland - A top Russian general said Friday that Poland's agreement to accept a U.S. missile interceptor base exposed the ex-communist nation to attack, possibly by nuclear weapons, the Interfax news agency reported.

    The statement by Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn was the strongest threat that Russia issued against the plans to put missile defense elements in former Soviet satellite nations.

    "Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent," Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, was quoted as saying.
    He added, in clear reference to the agreement, that Russia's military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons "against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them."
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Tuesday August 19, 2008
    No sign of military withdrawal as Russian armour stays put

    · Tbilisi says tank columns are edging into heartland
· Moscow insists pullout has already begun

    Russia last night continued to occupy large swaths of Georgia in defiance of an EU-brokered ceasefire deal, with no sign of significant troop withdrawals.

    Despite claims by Moscow that a pullout had begun, Russian forces could be seen across most of the country, and Georgian officials claimed that armoured columns had tried to push further into the mountainous heartland, towards Borjomi in the south and Sachkhere in the west.

    A Georgian interior ministry spokesman said columns of Russian armoured vehicles were stopped by police roadblocks outside Borjomi and Sachkhere and agreed to turn back. But another column broke through a similar roadblock west of Tbilisi.

    One report circulated yesterday evening suggested the Russian forces would only begin their promised withdrawal after nightfall, and Georgian officials said they would review the situation in the morning after further international pressure.

    President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to initiate a troop withdrawal yesterday after signing the agreement on Saturday. On Sunday he told France's president Nicholas Sarkozy a pullout was imminent.

    Russia's most forward position last night was where it had been for the past few days, at Igoeti, 27 miles from the capital. Russian tanks were visible today in the surrounding wooded hills. An armoured vehicle also ploughed into a line of stationary Georgian police cars.

    "Russian forces are not leaving. They are merely rotating their hardware. One comes, another one goes," said Irakly Porchkhidze, a Georgian government official inside Gori, where humanitarian relief was arriving today. He added: "There is no pullout."

    Additionally, South Ossetian militias yesterday said they had no intention of handing back territory. On Saturday the militias, supported by Russian heavy armour, seized Akhalgori, 25 miles north-west of Tbilisi. "This is now ours. It's Ossetian land," one militia man said yesterday morning.

    The town was under the control of South Ossetia's interior ministry and police administration, he said. The Georgian flag had been replaced by a white, red and yellow Ossetian one.

    August 19, 2008
    Will Russia’s withdrawal cause more unrest?

    Many people in South Ossetia fear the pullout of Russian troops will destabilise the region and cause Georgia to take more military action. According to Russian officials, the speed of the withdrawal will depend of the pullout of Georgian troops to their permanent positions.

    Many South Ossetians fear that when Russian troops withdraw, Georgia will attack again. One local man told RT that, “as soon as they have a chance to damage us they take it. My experience tells me that it's too soon to pull back Russian troops”.

    Russia Today
    August 16, 2008
    Biased broadcast? Moscow accuses U.S. TV of gagging victims’ stories

    Moscow has accused an American TV network of bias after a channel broke off from a live interview with victims of Georgian violence in South Ossetia. A 12 year old girl and her aunt were describing how Russian soldiers saved them from the Georgian attack – but were bizarrely cut off after just two minutes.

    The incident has sparked huge controversy over the issue of media impartiality, with Russian government officials calling it a violation of journalistic ethics. 

    Amanda Kokoeva, who comes from the San Francisco area, was visiting her relatives in South Ossetia for the summer.
On the night of August 7, she watched in horror as the war broke out. Amanda spent the night in her uncle's basement. The following morning, they fled to North Ossetia and eventually Moscow.
But they would have never made it to safety if it wasn't for the help of Russian troops, Amanda says. And she says that’s a part of her story that the American media has repeatedly left out. 

    Upon her return to the United States, she and her aunt Laura Tedeeva gave several interviews, including a live appearance on Fox News. 

Laura told viewers: “I want you to know who is to blame for this conflict and that’s Mr Saakashvili who started this war and who is an aggressor. 2000 people were killed in one day...” 

    After a number of tentative attempts to stop her talking, at this moment the presenter more forcefully interrupted her, saying it was time for a commercial break.
“Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear that,” Laura responded. Laura says she is not pro-Russia. Her mother is Georgian and her father is South Ossetian, but she simply wanted to tell the truth about what her family went through.

    She told RT: “I wanted the Americans to know that Russia didn’t start that war.” Laura says she prays for her family and hopes there will be no more bombing. Amanda's father is currently in South Ossetia to make sure his relatives are out of harm's way. The family says everyone is fine and they will only leave their homeland if the fighting resumes.
Amanda hopes to see her father again soon. And despite her ordeal in South Ossetia, the 12-year-old girl would like to go back there one day.


    Fox News Cuts Off American Girl for Thanking Russian Troops. "There are grey areas in war."


    "American and other western media, especially CNN, is feeding you complete horse-shit."


    The truth about South Ossetia War, Georgia attack


  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Tuesday Aug. 19, 2008
    Rice: Military power is "not the way to deal in the 21st century"

    It's hardly news that the U.S., like many countries, espouses standards that it routinely violates, but still, even in light of such routine hypocrisy, wouldn't you think that this, from Condoleezza Rice today, on an airplane to U.S. reporters while traveling to a NATO meeting, would be too brazen to utter:

    "Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used whenever it wishes to deliver a message and that's its military power. That's not the way to deal in the 21st century."

    Whatever one's views are on the justifiability of each isolated instance, it's simply a fact that the U.S. invades, bombs, occupies, and interferes in the internal affairs of other countries far more than any other country on the planet. It's not even a close competition.

    Just during the time Rice has served in the Bush administration, we bombed, invaded and occupied Afghanistan; did the same to Iraq; repeatedly bombed Somalia, killing all sorts of civilians; fed bombs to Israel as they invaded and bombed Lebanon; top political officials (led by John McCain and Joe Lieberman) have repeatedly threatened, and advocated, that the same be done to a whole host of other countries, including Iran and Syria. That's to say nothing of the virtually countless interventions and bombings in the pre-Bush, "peacetime" years -- from the Balkans and Panama to Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and on and on and on.

    Other than our media elite, is there anyone who doesn't recognize how absurd it is for Rice to be issuing a sermon like that? Who is the target audience for that? And what does it say about our political discourse that Rice knows she can say things like that with a straight face -- and, before her, that John McCain can do much the same -- without its being pointed out how darkly laughable it is? -- Glenn Greenwald

    "In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations." - John McCain

    "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century." - GW Bush


    U.S. Navy Ships Head to Georgia

    Two U.S. Navy ships, including a guided missile destroyer USS McFaul, and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are getting underway to transport humanitarian assistance supplies to Georgia, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said on August 21.

    It said USS McFaul (DDG 74) departed from Souda Bay, Crete, on Wednesday and the cutter Dallas (WHEC 716) will depart later this week.
    McFaul and Dallas are scheduled to transit into the Black Sea and arrive in Georgia within a week, according to the U.S. European Command.
The announcement comes after it was reported that Turkey gave its go-ahead to sail through its straits into the Black Sea.

    “The ships will transport thousands of blankets, hygiene items, baby food and infant supplies to save lives and alleviate human suffering,” U.S. European Command said.
The Associated Press reported quoting unnamed U.S. official in Turkey that USS Mount Whitney would be among those three vessels expected to arrive in Georgia.

    MOUNT WHITNEY (MTW) serves as the Command Ship for Commander, SIXTH Fleet/ Commander, Joint Command Lisbon/Commander, Striking Force NATO and has a complement of 150 enlisted personnel, 12 officers and 150 Civilian Mariners from Military Sealift Command.

    As the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) ship ever commissioned, MTW incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command widely dispersed air, ground and maritime units in an integrated fashion.

    USS McFaul
    Armament: two MK 41 VLS for Standard missiles, Tomahawk; Harpoon missile launchers, one Mk 45 5-inch/54 caliber lightweight gun, two Phalanx CIWS, Mk 46 torpedoes (from two triple tube mounts)


    Russian Black Sea Fleet

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717

    Aug. 19, 2008
    Russians take 20 prisoners, U.S. Humvees in Georgia
    NATO allies meet in Belgium, suspend formal contact with Russia as punishment

    POTI, Georgia — Russia took the first steps toward a troop pullback from Georgia on Tuesday but at the same time paraded blindfolded and bound Georgian prisoners on armored vehicles and seized four U.S. Humvees.

    The move toward withdrawal came on the same day as a powerful image of Russia's grip over Georgia: Russian trucks and armored vehicles carrying about 20 Georgian men, blindfolded, handcuffed and held at gunpoint.

    Mayor Vano Taginadze said the men, Georgian military and police troops, had been taken captive because the Georgians refused to let Russian armored vehicles into the port of Poti, along Georgia's Black Sea coast.

    Also in Poti, Russian soldiers commandeered Humvees that had been used in U.S.-Georgian military exercises and were destined to be shipped back to the United States.

    The Pentagon said it was looking into the theft. Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia said Russian forces seized the vehicles.

    On the diplomatic front, NATO foreign ministers suspended their formal contacts with Russia as punishment. Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "there can be no business as usual with Russia under present circumstances."

    But the NATO allies, bowing to pressure from European nations that depend heavily on Russia for energy, stopped short of more severe penalties being pushed by the United States.

    The Russian Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, dismissed the impact of the emergency meeting in Brussels, Belgium: "The mountain gave birth to a mouse.",1020,1274968,00.jpg

    Russia Should Return U.S. Humvees, Pentagon Spokesman Says
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2008 – A group of American Humvees seized by Russian forces in Georgia this week should be returned immediately, a Defense Department official said today.

    “We’ve certainly expressed our position over the fact that these Humvees are U.S. property and should be returned. It’s that simple,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

    U.S. General John Craddock (L), NATO's top operational commander, shakes hands with Georgian servicemen at an army base outside Tbilisi August 22, 2008.

    The U.S. hands over military secrets to Moscow
    Russia's military is surprised by the Georgian army's negligence

    An elite group of Georgian special forces drove into the "Russian-occupied" Poti on 5 U.S. military Hummers this week. The vehicles were carrying explosives, firearms and top-secret satellite technology — the pride of NATO generals.

    The Russian military learned the special forces were approaching the city long before their arrival. Their movement was detected by satellite and reports had been received from local Georgians angered by Saakashvili's recent military actions.

    According to Russian officials, they didn't expect that a key unit of Georgian intelligence trained by top NATO specialists would drive directly into their hands. The Georgian officers were overtaken without causalities.

    "We knew there was a lot of negligence going on in the Georgian army, but not to this degree," one well-known, highly-positioned Russian general told me, who didn't want to reveal he is currently stationed in Georgia.

    There were also three Arabs among the 20-odd Georgians. The Russian military is interrogating the officers who say they didn't intend to blow anything up. All the artillery in the vehicle was there by chance, they say. They forgot to unload the Hummers before departing. They had arrived together in such a large number to carefully study the situation in the port city.

    It's likely NATO will have to re-encode their entire military and space system after the operation, which will be costly.

    Signs of pullback by Russian forces in Georgia
    Friday, August 22, 2008 
    The Associated Press

    IGOETI, Georgia (AP) -- Russian military convoys rolled out of three key positions in Georgia and headed toward Moscow-backed separatist regions on Friday in a significant withdrawal two weeks after thousands of troops roared into the former Soviet republic.

    In western Georgia, a column of 83 tanks, APCs and trucks hauling artillery moved away from the Senaki military base north toward the border of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region on Friday afternoon. Georgian police said the vehicles came from the base, which has been under Russian control for more than a week.

    In central Georgia, at least 40 Russian military vehicles left the strategic crossroads city of Gori, heading north toward South Ossetia and Russia. Gori straddles the country's main east-west highway south of South Ossetia, the separatist region at the heart of the fighting.
    "We are seeing the pullback of Russian troops" from Gori, Georgian security council chief Alexander Lomaia said.

    An Associated Press reporter in Igoeti, meanwhile, confirmed that Russian forces had pulled up from their former checkpoints around the village. Igoeti, on the road between Gori and the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, had been the Russians' closest position to the Georgian capital.
    On the road from Igoeti to Gori, Georgians waved at bystanders and pumped their fists, and many held white-and-red national flags.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had promised to have his troops out of Georgia by Friday - but a top Russian general later amended that prediction, saying it could take at least 10 days before the bulk of Russian troops and hardware could be withdrawn.

    Russian soldiers give bread to a Georgian woman near the village of Igoeti, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008.

    "If our proposal is not accepted we will take adequate measures. An asymmetrical and effective response will be found. This response would include basing "new rocket forces in the European part of Russia" in the enclave of Kaliningrad. The Russian missiles would be able to "parry the threats that will arise from the [US] missile defence system."

    Russia Checkmates the Neocons
    Kurt Nimmo, Infowars

    August 21, 2008

    It appears Russia is wasting little time responding to the neocon provocation of declaring its intention of installing missiles at Redzikowo, on Poland’s Baltic coast. Russia has dispatched the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to the Syrian port of Tartus. Admiral Kuznetsov, along with Russia’s biggest missile cruiser Moskva and at least four nuclear submarines, left Murmansk on the Barents Sea on August 18, according to DEBKAfile.

    On August 21, at the Black Sea port of Sochi, Syrian president Bashar Assad told the media he is considering a Russian request to deploy missiles in his country. The Arabic language newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, reported Bashar as saying he hopes to see Moscow cease its cooperation with NATO-allied states. “He is quoted as saying that Israeli arms sales to the Georgian army should prompt the Kremlin to strengthen the military alliance between Russia and Syria,” reports the Israeli news site, YNet News. Bashar is scheduled to meet with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. According to the BBC, fast track military and technical co-operation are at the top of the agenda.

    It should be noted that prior to Russia’s defense of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the signing of the Polish missile deal, Moscow promised the U.S. it would not provide Iran and Syria with advanced military technology.

    “I want to voice support for Russia over the situation around Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Assad told Itar-Tass. “We understand the essence of the Russian position and consider its military reaction a response to provocation by the Georgian side.” Assad also said “Syria was and is striving to develop strategic relations with Russia, in the interests of security in the whole world,” an obvious reference to the neocon plan to confront Syria, Iran, and Russia.

    Russia plans to install Iskandar surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, sources at DEBKAfile report. As widely reported over last weekend, Russian Baltic and Middle East warships, submarines and long-range bombers may be armed with nuclear warheads. “One plan on the table in Moscow, DEBKAfile’s sources report, is the establishment of big Russian military, naval and air bases in Syria and the release of advanced weapons systems withheld until now to Iran (the S-300 air-missile defense system) and Syria (the nuclear-capable 200 km-range Iskandar surface missile).”

    The Iskander Tactical Missile System is considered to be among the most advanced surface / surface missiles available today.

    Russia’s move is at least in part a response to Israel’s arming and training of the Georgian military. “Israel armed the Georgian army,” Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told a Moscow press conference last week. Jerusalem provided Tblisi with “eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for the clearing minefields.” Georgia’s Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia previously said that “Georgian corporals and sergeants train with Germans, alpine units and the navy work with French instructors, and special operations and urban warfare troops are taught by Israelis,” Noah Shachtman reported for Wired on August 18. Earlier this year, Russia shot down a number of Georgian spy drones, specifically Hermes 450 reconnaissance planes manufactured by Israel’s Elbit Systems.

    As reported by Infowars and Prison Planet, Georgia’s defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew. Kezerashvili contributed to military cooperation between Israel and Georgia. “Israel’s defense industries managed to sell to Georgia [drones], automatic turrets for armored vehicles, antiaircraft systems, communication systems, shells and rockets,” former Israel internal security minister Roni Milo told Ynetnews. Moreover, “Israel has reportedly helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia. And former Israeli generals serve as advisers to the Georgian military,” according to Jewish Week.

    On Wednesday, Bush praised Georgia’s NED engineered “Rose Revolution” while addressing a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Orlando, Florida, the Washington Post reported. NED’s installation of Mikheil Saakashvili was “one of the most inspiring chapters in history,” according to Bush. “Georgia stood for freedom around the world,” he said. “Now the world must stand for freedom in Georgia.”

    Bush’s “freedom in Georgia,” that is to say the imposition of a client state micromanaged by the IMF and World Bank, will become less tenable now that Russia “plans to establish a long-term presence inside Georgia and one of its breakaway republics,” as the Chicago Tribune reports. “If implemented, the plan would effectively put under Russian control the border between Georgia and South Ossetia, which is seeking independence, as well as a small chunk of Georgia proper.”

    Obviously, with the Russian presence in Georgia and its renewed military relationship with Syria, the neocon plan to confront Iran and encircle Russia has encountered a speed bump. It remains to be seen how the Bush neocons, quickly approaching the apogee of their power, will react to Russia’s latest move.

    Talk of Russia-Cuba ties seen as warning to U.S.
    Fri Aug 22, 2008

    HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba and Russia have stirred memories of their Cold War alliance with recent talk of restoring "traditional" ties in what experts said was a warning to their old adversary, the United States.

    Russia, once the island's top economic benefactor and military ally, has hinted at re-establishing a military presence in Cuba in a tit-for-tat for U.S. activities in Eastern Europe, including plans for a missile defense system, they said.

    "Russia is clearly irritated at what it perceives as U.S. meddling in its neighborhood," said Cuba expert Phil Peters at the Lexington Institute in Virginia. "It seems to be sending a message that if you play on our periphery, we'll play in yours."

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Russia recognizes breakaway Georgian regions
    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 
    The Associated Press

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia formally recognized the breakaway Georgian territories at the heart of its war with Georgia on Tuesday, drawing immediate condemnation from the West as the United States dispatched a military ship bearing aid to a port city still patrolled by Russian troops.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was unapologetic about his decision and said he did not fear a Cold War. He said Georgia forced Russia's hand by launching an attack targeting South Ossetia on Aug. 7 in an apparent bid to seize control of the breakaway region.

    "This is not an easy choice but this is the only chance to save people's lives," Medvedev said Tuesday in a televised address a day after Russia's Kremlin-controlled parliament voted unanimously to support the diplomatic recognition.

    The U.S. was taken surprise by the speed of the Russian response on recognition and escalated it by having Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threaten a U.N. Security Council veto should Russia ask for international recognition of its move. "Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a part of the internationally recognized borders of Georgia and it's going to remain so," Rice said.

    Britain, Germany and France also criticized the decision.

    Medvedev later said Russia did not seek or fear a new Cold War and that it was up to the West to avoid it.

    "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War, but we of course don't want it." Medvedev told the Russia Today television channel. "In this situation everything depends on the position of our partners ... in the West."

    "If they want to preserve good relations with Russia in the West, they will understand the reason behind our decision and the situation will be calm," Medvedev added.

    He also promised a military response to U.S. plans to install a missile defense system in Poland and the former Czech republic. Washington insists the system is designed to counter the threat from Iran or North Korea, but Russia says it is aimed at blunting Russia's nuclear capability.

    "We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way," Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

    Russian forces have staked out positions beyond the de-facto borders of the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The two territories have effectively ruled themselves following wars in the 1990s.

    While Western nations have called the Russian military presence in Poti a clear violation of an EU-brokered cease-fire, a top Russian general countered Tuesday that using warships to deliver aid was "devilish."

    "The heightened activity of NATO ships in the Black Sea perplexes us," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said in Moscow. The United States says its ships are carrying humanitarian aid but suspicion persists in Russia that they are delivering military materiel clandestinely.

    Many of the Russian forces have pulled back from their positions in Georgia, but hundreds at least are estimated to still be manning checkpoints that Russia calls "security zones."

    Two of those checkpoints are near the edge of Poti, one of Georgia's most important Black Sea ports — one by a bridge that provides the only access to Poti. The Russian military is also claiming the right to patrol in the city.

    Angering Russia, the United States sent the missile destroyer USS McFaul to the southern Georgian port of Batumi, well away from the conflict zone, to deliver 34 tons of humanitarian aid on Sunday.

    The McFaul left Batumi on Tuesday but would remain in the Black Sea area, said Commander Scott Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet in Naples, Italy.

    The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas, meanwhile, was headed for Georgia with a shipment of aid.

    Embassy spokesman Stephen Guice did not give details on which ship would aim to enter Poti, but it appeared likely the smaller Coast Guard ship would aim to dock, with the McFaul possibly remaining on guard at sea.

    While he did not link it with the U.S. ships, Nogovitsyn said a unit of Russian naval ships was off Sukhumi — the capital of another separatist Georgian region, Abkhazia, on the Black Sea north of Poti. He said the ships were observing the pullout of Russian troops from Georgia.

    Nogovitsyn told reporters that 10 ships from NATO nations were currently in the Black Sea and that eight more are to join them soon.

    "They have very serious arsenal on their ships," Nogovitsyn said. "The Black Sea is just a small pool for their arms with the range of 2,500 kilometers."

    The United States and other Western countries have given substantial military aid to Georgia, angering Russia, which regards Georgia as part of its historical sphere of influence. Russia has also complained bitterly about aspirations by Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.

    Medvedev said Georgian Presdent Mikhail Saakshvili was so bent on gaining control of South Ossetia that he resorted to "genocide."

    "Georgia chose the least human way to achieve its goal — to absorb South Ossetia by eliminating a whole nation," Medvedev said.

    Hundreds of jubilant Ossetians and Abkhazians spilled onto the streets in their regional capitals after his announcement, waving national flags, firing shots in the air, cheering and dancing traditional Caucasian dances. "This is the happiest day of my life," said Julia Babyeva, 19, as she celebrated the news in the devastated South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.

    But in Tbilisi, Saakashvili called Russia's decision an attempt at a landgrab.

    "It is the first attempt in Europe, since Nazi Germany and Stalin, of a big country to annex the territory of another country," Saakashvili said.

    Both breakaway regions rely heavily on Russia for pensions and government subsidies. Most people in the two regions have been given Russian passports, and already consider themselves citizens of Russia.

    Russia's military presence seems likely to further weaken Georgia, a Western ally in the Caucasus region, a major transit corridor for energy supplies to Europe and a strategic crossroads close to the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia and energy-rich Central Asia.

    Georgia lashed out at Russia, as expected.

    "Russia is trying to legalize the results of an ethnic cleansing it has conducted, to oppose it to the West," Georgia's state minister on reintegration, Timur Yakobashvili, told The Associated Press. "But it will result in Russia's isolation from the world."

    In London, British oil company BP PLC announced Monday it has reopened the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs through Georgia.

    The pipeline, which provides some 1 million barrels per day of Caspian Sea crude to international markets, had been closed for more than two weeks after a fire on its Turkish stretch. Kurdish rebels claimed responsibility for the blaze.

    Women waving Russian and South Ossetian flags, in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, on Tuesday.
  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    US, Russia anchor military ships in Georgian ports
    Wednesday, August 27, 2008 

    BATUMI, Georgia (AP) — A U.S. military ship loaded with aid docked at a southern Georgian port Wednesday, and Russia sent three missile boats to another Georgian port as the standoff escalated over a nation devastated by war with Russia.

    Georgia's government said its short war with Russia had caused $1 billion in damages, while European leaders called the Kremlin's moves in two breakaway Georgian regions an unacceptable attempt to unilaterally redraw the map of the Caucasus region.

    The dockings came a day after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recognized the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, which Georgia answered Wednesday by recalling all but two diplomats from its embassy in Moscow.

    The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas, carrying 34 tons of humanitarian aid, docked in the Black Sea port of Batumi, south of the zone of this month's fighting between Russia and Georgia. The arrival avoided Georgia's main cargo port of Poti, still controlled by Russian soldiers.

    The U.S. Embassy in Georgia had earlier said the ship was headed to Poti, but then retracted the statement. Zaza Gogava, head of Georgia's joint forces command, said Poti could have been mined by Russian forces and still contained several sunken Georgian ships hit in the fighting.

    Poti's port also reportedly sustained heavy damage by the Russian military. In addition, Russian troops have established checkpoints on the northern approach to the city and a U.S. ship docking there could be perceived as a direct challenge.

    Meanwhile, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva and two smaller missile boats anchored at the port of Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, some 180 miles north of Batumi. The Russian navy said the ships were involved in peacekeeping operations.

    Although Western nations are calling the Russian military presence in Poti a clear violation of a European Union-brokered cease-fire, a top Russian general said using warships to deliver aid is "devilish."

    Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned that NATO has already exhausted the number of military forces it can have in the Black Sea under international agreements and warned Western nations against sending more ships.

    "Can NATO — which is not a state located in the Black Sea — continuously increase its group of forces and systems there? It turns out that it cannot," Nogovitsyn was quoted as saying Wednesday by the Interfax news agency.

    Western leaders assailed Russia for violating Georgia's territorial sovereignty.

    A Coast Guard that guards everyone else’s coast

    One would think that a coast guard vessel has a fairly straight forward task: patrol the littoral waters surrounding the country.

    However, it appears that the US coast guard, like the national guard, has a history of being used in imperial warfare. For instance, the USCGC Dallas, the largest coast guard ship currently in commission, has just made a pit stop in Georgia. Not the Peach State, but rather in the Black Sea near the Caucasus.

    And while the federal government officially states that the ship is conducting humanitarian aid, based on its previous history (active in the Vietnam war theater as well as Kosovo in 1999), one could surmise that its appearance is more than coincidence.

    The U.S. Coast Guard cutter, Dallas at Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.

    U.S. assessing possible military aid to Georgia
    Wed Aug 27

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military planners have begun pondering the thorny question of how Georgia's shattered armed forces might be rebuilt without provoking a Russian backlash that could risk direct confrontation with Moscow.

    Two influential U.S. senators -- Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that Georgia should be given anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems to deter any renewed Russian aggression.

  • PurpleHazePurpleHaze
    Posts: 717
    Putin: US orchestrated Georgia conflict, suggests motive was to affect US president election
    Aug 28, 2008


    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Thursday of instigating the fighting in Georgia and said he suspects a connection to the U.S. presidential campaign — a contention the White House dismissed as "patently false."

    In a decision he said was unrelated to unraveling Russia-U.S. ties, Putin also ordered that 19 American poultry producers be barred from selling their products to Russia. He said the unnamed companies ignored demands that they correct alleged deficiencies.

    Putin, the former president and architect of an assertive foreign policy that has stoked East-West tension, suggested in an interview with CNN that there was an American presence amid the combat with a potential domestic U.S. political motive.

    "We have serious grounds to think that there were U.S. citizens right in the combat zone" during Russia's war with the U.S.-allied ex-Soviet republic, he said the interview broadcast on state-run Russian television. "And if that's so, if that is confirmed, it's very bad. It's very dangerous."

    August 29, 2008
    U.S. citizen was among Georgian commandos - Russian Military

    A U.S. passport was found in a building in South Ossetia occupied by Georgian troops, a Russian military spokesperson revealed on Thursday. After Russian peacekeepers cleared the heavily defended building, a passport belonging to a Texan named Michael Lee White was discovered inside.

    Deputy Chief of Russia's General Staff Anatoly Nagovitsyn showed photocopies of the passport to media in a press briefing on Thursday.

“There is a building in Zemonekozi - a settlement to the south of Tskhinval that was fiercely defended by a Georgian special operations squad. Upon clearing the building, Russian peacekeepers recovered, among other documents, an American passport in the name of Michael Lee White of Texas," said Nagovitsyn.
Neither the owner of the passport nor his remains were found at the scene, despite a thorough search.

"I do not know why he was there, but it is a fact that he was in the building, among Georgian special forces troops,” Nagovitsyn said.

    Russia: US still looking for WMDs in Iraq?
    Fri, 29 Aug 2008

    Russia has slammed what it calls the UN Security Council's hypocritical stance on the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has accused the world body of adopting a double standard approach in dealing with the issue.

    He said members of the Council are ignorant about the essence of the Caucasus conflict, Russia Today reported on Friday.

    The remarks were made after a Thursday's meeting of the Security Council during which the Western powers criticized Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    "Russia violated the security zone patrolled by UN peacekeeping forces deployed by the UN Security Council," said Alejandro Daniel Wolff, US Representative to the UN. "In Abkhazia, Russia is violating not only the territorial integrity of Georgia, but also the integrity of this Council."

    The US also said Russian troops should have never entered the territory of Georgia, a sovereign member of the international community.

    Churkin, however, hit back by referring to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    "I would like to ask the distinguished representative of the United States about....Weapons of Mass Destruction. Have you found them in Iraq yet or are you still looking for them?" Churkin said.

    U.S. tells Russia: Give us back our Humvees!
    August 29, 2008

    The U.S. military wants Russia to return five Humvees that were confiscated while being shipped to the Georgian military. The vehicles were seized earlier this month, with the U.S. claiming the vehicles were taken at a Georgian port awaiting shipment inland.

    But the Russian side has suggested the Humvees, which it says were detained near the Georgian port of Poti during a peace-making operation, were carrying “interesting” military equipment. 

    Now the U.S. wants the vehicles to be returned or at least get compensation. 
On Wednesday, General James Conway, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, was asked at a Pentagon news conference what he intended to do about the Russian capture, worth $540,000.

    "I think we're going to send the Russians a bill and tell them, you know, 'Either pay up or give us back our vehicles, guys,'" he replied.  

But Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of Russia's General Staff, said he is not eager to return the five Humvees. He said the Russian military had closely examined them and found “a lot of interesting stuff”.




  • DoctornoDoctorno
    Posts: 234
    On Alex Jones Sunday show, (now in rebroadcast mode until 9 am pacific time tomorrow,) He has two guests on the mess the NeoCons have started.  Richard Cook and Paul Craig Roberts.

    Danger of Nuke war is still a possibility since South Ossetia is Russian and Bush is talking shit, after goading Georgians to Ethnic cleanse the region of Russians.
    Kuchinich should add another line to his Impeachment proceeding against Bush and Cheney.

    Obomber is not going to improve things, maybe widen War into Pakistan, etc.

    What a Depressing Election Year!

    I'm going to vote for Cynthia Mckinney of the Green Party. At least She is honest.
  • author said:

    On Alex Jones Sunday show, (now in rebroadcast mode until 9 am pacific time tomorrow,) He has two guests on the mess the NeoCons have started.  Richard Cook and Paul Craig Roberts.

    Danger of Nuke war is still a possibility since South Ossetia is Russian and Bush is talking shit, after goading Georgians to Ethnic cleanse the region of Russians.
    Kuchinich should add another line to his Impeachment proceeding against Bush and Cheney.

    Obomber is not going to improve things, maybe widen War into Pakistan, etc.

    What a Depressing Election Year!

    I'm going to vote for Cynthia Mckinney of the Green Party. At least She is honest.

    Depressing, indeed. Gotta love Cynthia, though.  :)

    It's Time for Real Change - How the Democrats Helped Bush Hijack the Country
    August 27, 2008

    Our country has been hijacked and the Democrats have proven themselves to have been in on the plan. When it came to the Constitution, the Democratic leadership showed us that aiding and abetting illegal spying on us was more important to them than protecting our civil liberties.

    When it came to war and occupation, the Democratic leadership showed us that financing an illegal and immoral war, based on lies, was more important to them than the people's desire for peace.

    And when the people, hurting from the financial mismanagement of this country, called for accountability for the crimes that have been committed against the people here, against the global community, against nature, itself, the Democratic leadership took impeachment off the table!

    Grassroots Democratic Party activists want a livable wage! A "Medicare-for-all" type of health care system, repeal of the Bush tax cuts that have ushered in the greatest income inequality in this country since the Great Depression. But the Democratic Party has shown itself to be incapable of providing even a semblance of the values even of its own activists.

    The Democratic Party's national leadership didn't even mention Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors in their Congressional agenda for the first 100 days.

    The Democratic Party's national leadership gave us the Iran Naval Blockade bill, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, and telecom immunity. They continue to fund war and occupation to the tune of $720 million a day while our children graduate from college tens--or even hundreds--of thousands of dollars in debt. Entire cities are going into receivership while the Democratic leadership in Congress gives the Pentagon one half trillion dollars annually with no accountability, no strings attached. That's over and above spending for war.

    Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are the hallmarks of the new U.S. gulag Democrats are helping to create.

    They want us to believe that China and Russia are our enemies, in addition to the 60 countries on Dick Cheney's list. They want us to believe that workers, who come to this country to support thier families after Democratic leadership in the country saddled workers with NAFTA, are our enemies. But we are here today to declare that we know who the real enemies are: those false patriots that George Washington warned us of, who wrap themselves in the flag while betraying our values.
  • Russia suggests US ships may have carried weapons to Georgia along with aid
    AP News, Sep 01, 2008 (excerpt)

    Russia warned the West on Monday against supporting Georgia's leadership, suggesting that the United States carried weapons as well as aid to the ex-Soviet republic and calling for an arms embargo until the Georgian government falls.

    The remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his spokesman came as European Union leaders delicately approached their relations with Russia, weighing how to punish Moscow for its invasion of Georgia without isolating the continent's major energy supplier.

    The latest Russian rhetoric was likely to anger the United States and Europe and enrage Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has said Russia's goal all along has been to remove him from power.

    "If instead of choosing their national interests and the interests of the Georgian people, the United States and its allies choose the Saakashvili regime, this will be a mistake of truly historic proportions," Lavrov said.

    At the EU emergency summit talks, leader debated a draft statement condemning Russia for putting relations with the EU "at a crossroads" and urging it "not to isolate" itself from Europe.

    It called Russia's invasion of Georgia unacceptable and said the EU is ready to bolster ties with Georgia. There was, however, no mention of sanctions against Russia or of sending EU soldiers to Georgia.

    Hours after Lavrov's comments, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry suggested U.S. ships that carried humanitarian aid to Georgia's Black Sea coast following last month's war may also have delivered weapons.

    Lavrov reserved particular criticism for the United States, which has trained Georgian troops, saying such aid had failed to give Washington sufficient leverage to restrain the Georgian government. Instead, he said, "It encouraged the irresponsible and unpredictable regime in its gambles."

    Neither the State Department nor the Pentagon had immediate comment.

    Russia supplies the EU with a third of its oil and 40 percent of its natural gas — a dependence the European Commission says will rise significantly in the future.

    Germany relies on Russia for 34 percent of its oil imports and 36 percent of its natural gas consumption. Slovakia, Finland and Bulgaria depend on Russia for more than 90 percent of the gas that heats homes, cooks meals and powers factories.
  • image 

    In Rebuff to Russia, IMF Is Set to Lend Georgia $750 Million
    by Andrew Higgins
    September 2, 2008

    TBILISI, Georgia -- When Russia sent troops into Georgia last month, the West balked at joining the fight. But now that the shooting has ended, Western nations are mobilizing to thwart a key Russian war aim: regime change in Tbilisi. Their weapon is cash.

    The International Monetary Fund is set to reach a preliminary deal this week that will throw the former Soviet republic a $750 million credit line, according to officials close to the negotiations. Both the U.S. and Europe are also working on big assistance packages that Georgia hopes will provide $2 billion or more.

    The money aims to calm the nerves of foreign investors -- crucial to Georgia's economic stability -- and help Georgia finance the repair of war damage. More important, Western cash will help shore up the pro-Western government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

    Mr. Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer whom Russia has reviled as unhinged and a war criminal unworthy of office, addressed tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters Monday in Tbilisi's Freedom Square. He vowed "peaceful resistance" to Russian troops still in Georgia. Demonstrators also gathered at Russian checkpoints and staged a rally in Poti, a Georgian Black Sea port, where a small contingent of Russian troops still remains.

    Seeking to rally Western support, the government has put up huge banners across Tbilisi denouncing Russia. Written in English -- a language most here don't understand -- they plead: "Stop Russia." As crowds of protesters thronged Tbilisi streets to shout anti-Russian slogans and wave Georgian flags, a military truck lumbered through the city with the burnt-out wreckage of an armored personnel carrier.

    Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to Georgia this week in a trip that could help lay the groundwork for a stiffer Western response to the Russian incursion. Mr. Cheney, who will also visit Ukraine and Azerbaijan, is expected to stress the depth of U.S. interests in Georgia.

    Some experts say the U.S. may step up military assistance to Georgia, perhaps by supplying more military trainers. More broadly, an administration official said Washington is seeking "a long-term strategic framework" for the region in light of Russia's new assertiveness.

    Russia trounced Georgian forces in the brief war last month. It has since recognized two breakaway regions of Georgia as independent states and has defied Western pressure to pull out all its troops. So far, however, Moscow has failed to achieve what many see as perhaps its principal war aim: the removal of Mr. Saakashvili and his government.

    In Moscow Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the U.S. and its allies to drop support for the "Saakashvili regime." Siding with Mr. Saakashvili, he said, "will be a mistake of truly historic proportions."

    Who Controls the Loot?
    by Harry Throssel

    "The Ministry of Plenty concerns itself with starvation" - George Orwell, 1984.

    It's common knowledge the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organisation have a big hand in the distribution of the world's wealth, in deciding who's rich and who's not. But who are they and who controls them?

    John Pilger wrote "What followed (World War II) was the simultaneous defeat and recolonisation of the European empires by American capital. A government-subsidised production boom during the War left the world's wealth in American hands. Bretton Woods marked the American conquest of most of the world, and later "the Bretton Woods Agreement" gave America's military and corporate establishments unlimited access to minerals, oil, markets, and cheap labour. The WB and the IMF were invented to implement this strategy. Their base is Washington, where they are joined by an umbilical cord to the US Treasury. Their members' voting power is determined by their wealth: thereby America controls them." Frederic Clairmont wrote "What Bretton Woods bequeathed to the world was a lethal totalitarian blueprint for the carve up of world markets."

    Cheney Departs on Caucasus Tour
    September 2, 2008

    Vice President Dick Cheney left today on a four-nation tour focused largely around reassuring US allies in the Caucasus in the wake of this month’s Georgia-Russia conflict. Cheney will be visiting Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, and Italy.

    And while Cheney is expected to meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, an important sign of support at a time when he is experiencing serious internal unrest and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has labeled him a “political corpse,” the most important stop is seen to be the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan.

    America has invested heavily in finding a route for Azerbaijan’s significant oil and gas resources that wouldn’t require traversing either Russia or Iran. That route has taken two major forms: a pipeline through Georgia into Turkey, and rail links from Azerbaijan to Georgia’s Black Sea ports. The same route is also seen as key for a planned natural gas pipeline, which America has hoped would break Russia’s virtual monopoly on the transit of gas from Central Asia to Europe.

    But the pipeline route has turned out considerably less stable that Azerbaijan had hoped. Earlier this month the PKK sabotaged the pipeline in Turkey, shutting it down for repair. Then Russia invaded Georgia in response to an attack in South Ossetia. The fighting damaged a bridge, severing Azerbaijan’s main rail link to Georgia. This had left Azerbaijan with only one source for western export: a much smaller capacity pipeline into Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

    The instability has done serious harm to Azerbaijan’s heavily energy export-based economy, to the point where UPI quoted an anonymous official as saying Iran would be the “best economical and safest route” for energy exports, and though this would still cut Russia out of the exports, it would also run afoul of American sanctions against Iran. Azerbaijan has maintained a tense relationship with Iran over the years, but they have assured that they will not allow the US to use their nation as a staging ground for an attack on Iran.
    ~ Jason Ditz

    Russia: US needs Georgia to strike Iran
    Wed, 03 Sep 2008

    A senior Russian official says the White House assists Georgia in a bid to secure Georgian territory for a potential attack on Iran.

    In an interview with Press TV on Wednesday, Russian Duma Deputy Sergei Markov said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili 'brought some support from Israel' before he launched an attack on South Ossetia.

    Georgian military forces launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia on August 7. Russia, in response, moved its forces into the region.

    The conflict in South Ossetia claimed the lives of some 2,000 people and displaced 40,000 others.

    When asked if an attack on South Ossetia was a prelude to an attack on Iran, the State Duma Deputy said, "We know that this war in South Ossetia is somehow connected with the aggression of Washington against Iran, possible bombing of Iran."

    The US and Israel have long threatened to launch air strikes against Iranian nuclear installations under the pretext that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has plans to develop nuclear weaponry.

    This is while the UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran enriches uranium-235 to a level of 3.7 percent - a rate consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

    Currently suffering from electricity shortage, Iran has been forced to adopt a rationing program by scheduling power outages - of up to two hours a day - across both urban and rural areas in the country.

    September 3, 2008
    September Surprise - Get ready for it…

    For months, I've been warning in this space that an American attack on Iran is imminent, and now I see that the Dutch have reason to agree with my assessment. Their intelligence service reportedly has pulled out of a covert operation inside Iran on the grounds that a U.S. strike is right around the corner – in "a matter of weeks," according to De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper.

    Remember, the Israelis have been threatening to strike on their own for months: what's changed is that now, apparently, the U.S. has caved in to what is a blatant case of blackmail and has agreed to do the job for them.

    We haven't heard much about Iran lately, at least compared to the scare headlines of a few months ago, when rumors of war were swirling fast and furious. The Russian "threat" seems to have replaced the Iranian "threat" as the War Party's bogeyman of choice. What we didn't know, however, is that the two focal points are intimately related.

    According to this report by veteran Washington Times correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave,  the close cooperation of the Israelis with the Georgian military in the run-up to President Saakashvili's blitz of South Ossetia was predicated on a Georgian promise to let the Israelis use Georgia's airfields to mount a strike against Iran.

    Saakashvili, a vain and reckless man, now has even more reason to go behind Uncle Sam's back and give the Israelis a clear shot at Tehran. With this sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the Americans, the rationale for a more limited, shot-across-the-bow strike by the U.S. becomes all too clear.

    The stage is set, rehearsals are over, and the actors know their lines: as the curtain goes up on the first act of "World War III," take a deep breath and pray to the gods that this deadly drama is aborted. ~ Justin Raimondo

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    Cheney slams Russia for war against Georgia
    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Demonstrating Washington's support for war-ravaged Georgia, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney condemned Russia for what he called an "illegitimate, unilateral attempt" to redraw this U.S. ally's borders by force.

    Speaking during a closely watched trip to this strategic South Caucasus nation, Cheney also said the United States was "fully committed" to Georgian efforts to join NATO.

    One of the U.S. administration's most hawkish figures and a longtime critic of Russia, Cheney was visiting Georgia and two other ex-Soviet republics — Azerbaijan and Ukraine — that are nervous about Moscow's intentions.

    The trip signaled to Moscow that the United States will continue cultivating close ties with Georgia and its neighbors even after Russia showed it was willing to use military force against countries along its border.

    "America will do its duty to work with the governments of Georgia and our other friends and allies to protect our common interests and to uphold our values," Cheney said in the joint appearance with Saakashvili.

    The United States is at Georgia's side, Cheney said, "as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change your country's borders by force, that has been universally condemned by the free world."

    On the eve of his arrival, the White House announced a US$1 billion commitment to help the small but strategically located nation recover from its war with Russia.

    "You have been fearless in response to the occupation of your country and steadfast in your principles. We respect you," Cheney told the Georgian president

    Georgian President Saakashvili eats his tie on live TV

    U.S. says will give Georgia $1 billion in aid
    Sep 03, 2008

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States Wednesday announced at least $1 billion in aid to help ally Georgia rebuild after its war with Russia but U.S. officials said it was too soon to consider military assistance.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unveiled the plan to help reconstruct Georgia's economy and infrastructure that was destroyed by the Russian military as it crushed Georgia's attempt to regain control of the separatist enclave of South Ossetia.

    A multi-year aid commitment to Georgia "will begin now under President Bush and we believe strongly will endure in the next U.S. administration," Rice said.

    Rice said the first tranche of $570 million from the aid package would be delivered to Georgia by the end of 2008 and the rest by a new administration that takes over in January.

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois already has endorsed a proposal by his vice presidential running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, for $1 billion in U.S. aid to the former Soviet republic.

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona also has expressed strong support for the Georgian government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

  • The ship is the Navy’s most advanced command, control and intelligence vessel, capable of coordinating a major attack over a wide region.

    September 5, 2008
    US warship at Georgian port partly held by Russia

    The flagship of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean fleet anchored outside a key Georgian port Friday, defiantly bringing in tons of humanitarian aid to a city still partly occupied by hundreds of Russian troops.

    The USS Mount Whitney was the first Navy ship to travel to Poti since Georgia's five-day war with Russia last month.

    The continued presence of Russian troops here has been a major point of friction between Russia and the West, which insists Russia has failed to honor a deal to pull forces back to positions held before fighting broke out Aug. 7.

    The Mount Whitney will unload aid at Poti's commercial port Saturday, right next door to Poti's badly damaged naval base. Georgia's fleet was basically wiped out by the Russians.

    Two U.S. ships have already come and gone from Georgia carrying humanitarian aid in recent weeks, but they anchored at Batumi, to the south, a smaller port with no Russian military presence.

    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other officials have suggested the U.S. is delivering weapons to Georgia along with humanitarian aid. But Cpt. John Moore, commander of the task force of ships that have brought aid to Georgia, said Moscow's suspicions were unfounded.

    "There are absolutely no weapons of any sort on these ships," he said. Aid included blankets and powered milk.

    Moscow had signaled it would not impede the ship's movement. But, contrary to earlier reports, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US European Command, said Russians won't be inspecting the aid shipment.

    "That will not be allowed," Dorrian said. "The port of Poti is Georgian sovereign territory."

    In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry official Andrei Nesterenko offered a measured response to Mount Whitney's arrival.

    "There is no talk of military action," he said Friday, but again questioned why the United States was using warships.

    "It is unlikely that warships of this class can deliver humanitarian aid in great quantities," Nesterenko said.

    U.S. sails into troubled waters

    USS Mount Whitney arrives at Poti


    September 5, 2008
    Cool reception for Cheney in Azerbaijan
    American Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, appears to be have been unsuccessful for Washington, unlike his visit to Tbilisi.

    Neither President Ilkham Aliyev nor the Prime Minister, Artur Rasizade, were there to greet Cheney at Baku airport. Instead, he was met by the country’s First Deputy PM and the Foreign Minister.

The Kommersant newspaper reports that Cheney was very annoyed by the results of the meeting with President Aliyev and even refused to attend a ceremonial supper in his own honour

    Georgia linked to Nato early warning system
    Nato's early-warning surveillance system has been plugged into Georgia's air-defence network in the first evidence that the US-led alliance is shoring up the country's shattered military.

    As part of efforts to develop closer military ties with Georgia the US is also planning to set up a trust fund into which alliance members can donate money to assist Georgian military forces. “It's basically Nato passing the hat around,” an official said.
  • Russia agrees to Georgia pullout after EU sends monitors
    Associated Press
    September 8, 2008

    MOSCOW — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged Monday to withdraw Russian troops from key areas of Georgia after 200 European Union monitors are deployed later this month.

    However, the Russian agreement to pull out all the troops occupying regions surrounding the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia hinged on Georgia's acceptance of a reworked cease-fire deal.

    On Monday, Russian soldiers blocked international aid convoys from visiting Georgian villages and the ambassadors of Sweden, Latvia and Estonia said they also were barred last week from visiting villages beyond Russian checkpoints.

    Mr. Medvedev also alleged that Georgia's leader, Mikhail Saakashvili, had received “a blessing, either in the form of a direct order or silent approval” from the United States to launch an “idiotic action” against South Ossetia.

    “People died and now all of Georgia must pay for that,” Mr. Medvedev said after meeting with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Nearly a month after the five-day war, Russian troops remain entrenched deep inside Georgian territory. Georgia and the West have accused Russia of failing to honour its pledge to withdraw its troops to positions held before the fighting broke out Aug. 7. The dispute has plunged relations between Moscow and the West to near Cold War levels of animosity.

    On Monday, in a mostly symbolic expression of displeasure, President Bush cancelled a once-celebrated civilian nuclear co-operation deal with Russia.

    “We make this decision with regret,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a statement read by spokesman Sean McCormack. “Unfortunately, given the current environment, the time is not right for this agreement.”

    Russia says its troops in Georgia are peacekeepers and that they are allowed under the accord to help maintain security around Georgia's breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Moscow has recognized the two regions as independent states, a move denounced in Georgia and abroad. The regions make up roughly 20 per cent of Georgia's territory – and include miles of prime coastline along the Black Sea. Nicaragua is the only other country to have recognized the two regions.

    Mr. Medvedev said Russia would not revisit that decision.

    Our decision is irrevocable, the two new states have come to existence,” Mr. Medvedev said. “This is a reality which all our partners, including our EU partners, will have to reckon with.”

    He insisted that Russia is complying with terms of the cease-fire that Mr. Sarkozy negotiated last month. He said Russian troops would pull out of the Black Sea port of Poti and nearby areas in the next seven days, but only if Georgia signed a pledge to not use force against Abkhazia.

    International talks on the conflict in Georgia are planned beginning Oct. 15 in Geneva.

    The Christian Science Monitor
    September 8, 2008

    At a State Council meeting with Russian regional leaders Saturday, President Dmitry Medvedev announced that national security will have to be bolstered to counteract unnamed forces "who are trying to exert political pressure on Russia."

    In a series of statements over the past week Mr. Medvedev has spelled out what amounts to a Russian version of the Monroe Doctrine, warning that Moscow will intervene to protect its citizens and business interests, particularly in the "near abroad," meaning the former Soviet Union.

    "The events in [Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia] showed that Russia will not allow anyone to infringe upon the lives and dignity of its citizens, that Russia is a state to be, from now on, reckoned with," he told the regional leaders.

    The basic message to the West is "don't even think of parking here," says Natalya Narochnitskaya, former deputy chair of the State Duma's foreign relations commission and now an executive of the Moscow-based Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, which is funded by Russian business interests.

    After a decade that has seen NATO – a 26-nation Western military alliance – absorb all the former USSR's allies and move to the borders of Russia itself, and the US move to install strategic antimissile weapons in Poland and the Czech Republic, Moscow has had enough. "There is a red line, where Russia cannot accept further pressure on its borders in its traditional geopolitical arena," Ms. Narochnitskaya says.

    Analysts here are divided over whether a "new cold war" between Russia and the West is in the offing, but a growing sense of isolation is leading Moscow to circle the wagons closer to home and to revive alliances with former Soviet allies such as Syria and Cuba, and new partners such as Venezuela.

    Venezuela to host Russia navy exercise in Caribbean
    Sat Sep 6, '08

    CARACAS (Reuters) - Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported on Saturday.

    Quoting Venezuela's naval intelligence director, Salbarore Cammarata, the newspaper Vea said four Russian boats would visit Venezuelan waters from November 10 to 14.

    Plans for the naval operations come at a time of heightened diplomatic tension and Cold War-style rhetoric between Moscow and the United States over the recent war in Georgia and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.

    Cammarata said it would be the first time Russia's navy carried out such exercises in Latin America. He said the Venezuelan air force would also take part.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, has said in recent weeks that Russian ships and planes are welcome to visit the South American country.

    "If the Russian long-distance planes that fly around the world need to land at some Venezuelan landing strip, they are welcome, we have no problems," he said on his weekly television show last week.

    Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year's reactivation of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years.

    The socialist Chavez says he fears the United States will invade oil-rich Venezuela and he supports Russia's growing geopolitical presence as a counterbalance to U.S. power.

    Chavez has bought fighter jets and submarines from Russia to retool Venezuela's aging weapons and says he is also interested in a missile defense system.
  • Russia to keep 7,600 troops in 2 Georgian regions "for a long time"

    New countries gain Russian troop pledge
    September 9, 2008

    Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be replaced by regular army troops, according to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The announcement came after Russia established formal diplomatic relations with the newly independent countries. Meanwhile, Russian checkpoints in Georgia are being closed down.

    The news was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a joint media conference with his counterparts from the new states. 

    "First of all, we have exchanged notes and have agreed to establish diplomatic relations between Russia and Abkhazia and Russia and South Ossetia," Lavrov said.

    "We are setting up ties at the ambassadorial level. Secondly, we have discussed the drafts of agreements between Russia and South Ossetia and Russia and Abkhazia on friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance". The documents mentioned by the Russian foreign minister will coordinate all kinds of cooperation including military.

    The move follows Moscow’s decision to recognise the republics’ independence after Georgia attempted to gain control of South Ossetia last month by force. 

    Meanwhile, Georgian deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called the agreement ‘just a farce’:

“The real goal for Russia is military bases in those two Georgian regions. But sooner or later - and we think, sooner - the embassies and the bases will have to go”.

    Newborn states hope for international recognition

    Leaders of the two newly recognised republics say they already have candidates for the posts of ambassadors. They are also thankful for the recognition of their independence, saying that Russia's position was a key step in their future.

    "Initially we were just surviving, constantly under threat – but now we are facing the task of development, the instrument for which are being prepared now," Abkhazia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba noted.

    He also expressed hope that other countries, including European states, will in time re-think their position, and in his opinion everything will depend on what kind of example the newly recognised republics will demonstrate to the rest of the world. 

    Shamba's South Ossetian counterpart Murat Dzhioev echoed him saying the republic will work with other countries individually and with international organisations as part of the process in seeking other countries’ recognition of South Ossetia. In his opinion many countries will follow Russia's suit. 

    Nicaragua recently became the second country to recognise their independence.

    September 9, 2008
    Russian Navy set for U.S. backyard exercise

    The Russian Navy has confirmed that a fleet of warships belonging to the Russian Northern Fleet is preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and head for the Caribbean.

    The squadron, led by the Northern Fleet’s flagship Pyotr Veliky (named after Peter I of Russia or Peter the Great) - one of the world’s largest heavily-armed nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers - will participate with the Venezuelan fleet in the Caribbean naval exercise in November.
This will be Russia’s first manoeuvre in the U.S. backyard in nearly 20 years.

    Russia and Venezuela agreed in July 2008 to conduct this exercise when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Moscow. Due to the fact that the agreement was made a month before the U.S. ordered its warships to enter the Black Sea, Moscow and Caracas deny any connection between the presence of the U.S. command ship near Russian borders and the Russian fleet heading to America’s doorstep.

    In addition, Hugo Chavez has approved Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers to use Venezuelan military airfields. These actions could be seen as Russia hinting to the U.S. that, despite surrounding Russia with U.S. military bases, America is just as vulnerable to attack as any other country

    The Kirov class cruisers were intended to destroy US Navy carrier battle groups

    U.S. Fourth Fleet in Venezuelan Waters
    In an interview with Cuban television, Bolivian President Evo Morales remarked that the U.S. naval force constituted "the Fourth Fleet of intervention."
  • Bolivia expels U.S ambassador for fanning protests
    LIMA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday requested U.S. ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg to leave the country immediately, accusing him of "heading the division" inside Bolivia by encouraging, together with the opposition, protests against his government.

    According to reports reaching here from La Paz, administrative capital of Bolivia, Bolivian President Morales declared Goldberg as "persona non grata" at a ceremony in the Government Palace. He told Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca to notify him to leave the country immediately.

    Morales said that before being accredited as ambassador to Bolivia, Goldberg was chief of the U.S. mission in Pristina, Kosovo, and there he consolidated the region's separation, leaving thousands of people dead.

    Morales said that the decision to expel Goldberg is a tribute to the historical struggle of the Bolivian people against the neo-liberal model and against all kinds of foreign interference.

    Venezuela's Chavez says US ambassador must leave
    Thursday, September 11, 2008 

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. ambassador has 72 hours to leave Venezuela and that he's recalling his ambassador from Washington.

    Chavez said Thursday night that he is asking U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave in part to show solidarity with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expelled Washington's envoy in La Paz.

    "They're trying to do here what they were doing in Bolivia," Chavez said.

    "That's enough ... from you, Yankees," he said, using an expletive.

    The socialist leader said Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, would return to the U.S. "when there's a new government in the United States."

    US to watch Russia's 'Cold-War era' warplanes in Venezuela
    Sep 11, 2008

    WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Thursday it will monitor two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers, which it described as "Cold War era assets," following their deployment to Venezuela.

    "It is something that we will watch very closely, as we have with the movements of other military assets for the stated purpose of this joint exercise," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

    Besides the warplanes, Russia also plans to send warships to Venezuela for joint naval exercises in November.

    "I would just note, for example, that our military assets in the region of the Black Sea, for example, are there to deliver humanitarian assistance," McCormack said.

    "I will leave it to the Russians and the Venezuelans to describe the purpose of their activities," he added.

    Asked if he was making a link between events on both continents, McCormack replied: "I am making no linkage whatsoever. I am just pointing out an interesting data point."

    A Russian air force spokesman said Thursday that neither of the two Russian strategic bombers that flew to Venezuela on Wednesday are carrying nuclear weapons.

    The improved TU-160 is the first Russian aircraft to use ram-jet stealth technology, which makes the aircraft virtually invisible to enemy radar

    Tupolev Tu-160 "White Swan"

    Palin leaves open option of war with Russia
    Palin says war with Russia is possible if it invades a NATO ally
    Sep 11, 2008

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin left open the option Thursday of waging war with Russia if it were to invade neighboring Georgia and the former Soviet republic were a NATO ally.

    "We will not repeat a Cold War," Palin said in her first television interview since becoming Republican John McCain's vice presidential running mate two weeks ago.

    Palin told Charles Gibson of ABC News that she'd favor including Georgia and Ukraine, both former Soviet republics, in NATO despite opposition by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Asked whether the United States would have to go to war with Russia if it invaded Georgia, and the country was part of NATO, Palin said: "Perhaps so."

    Gibson also read Palin a comment she made in her former church — "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God" — and asked whether she thought the United States was fighting a holy war.

    Palin said she was recalling Abraham Lincoln's words when she made the comment and said: "I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words."

    She said she didn't know if her son Track who is headed to Iraq was on a mission from God.

    We’re on a mission from God.”

    Governor Sarah Palin: A Champion for Brutal Aerial Hunting
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    September 17, 2008
    Cornering the Russian Bear - Another unnecessary war
    by Thomas Gale Moore

    As we know, the Bush administration has gifted us with two wars. It has also promulgated the "Bush Doctrine," which asserts the nation's right to launch a preventive strike against any country that could potentially threaten the U.S. At the same time, this administration has supported expanding NATO to include former parts of the Soviet Union, such as Georgia and Ukraine. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West has moved its presence closer and closer to Moscow itself. The Baltic states, which border Russia, have been brought into the European Union and NATO. Poland, together with Bulgaria and Hungary, once elements of the Soviet Bloc, are now members of the EU and NATO.

    In addition, the administration has pressured and bribed Poland, as well as the Czech Republic, into authorizing our military to establish anti-missile weapons and advanced radar in the two countries. Although Washington claims that those bases are intended solely to protect against Iranian rockets – which are not advanced enough to threaten the U.S. – Moscow believes that they are being installed with Russian weapons in mind. As a result, Russia feels increasingly that it is being surrounded and pushed into a corner. That is very dangerous. If the Russians were to adopt the Bush Doctrine, they might launch a preemptive strike against America.

    Sen. McCain has called for expelling Russia from the G8 group of industrial nations and preventing it from joining the World Trade Organization. McCain also wants to establish a League of Democratic states that would not include Russia or China. Which countries are democratic enough to qualify, he has failed to specify. All of these steps isolate Russia further from the West.

    Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin asserted in her interview with Charles Gibson of ABC news that Georgia and Ukraine deserve to join NATO. Should Russia attack one of them, she acknowledged, we would be obligated to go to its assistance. In other words, we would have to launch a war on Russia. Through 40 years of the Cold War we managed to avoid a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It would be devastating and tragic if now we were to become embroiled in a war with Russia, which has nuclear weapons, plus the intercontinental missiles powerful enough to deliver them to the U.S.

    If you are hiking in the woods and come across a wild animal, you should always give it a way to escape. Once cornered, the animal will attack you. The same advice applies when dealing with a dangerous country. Never corner it. Unfortunately that is exactly what this administration has been doing with Russia.

    We have already seen the results of attempting to bring Georgia into NATO. The Russians felt cornered. After we encouraged the Georgian regime to attempt to bring back the wayward territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow felt justified in sending troops into Georgia. Had Bush prevailed and secured Georgia's membership in NATO, we would have been obliged to send troops to help Georgia.

    In Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, Pat Buchanan stresses British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's promise to the Polish government, a military dictatorship reputedly as anti-Semitic as the Nazis, that Britain would go to war to defend Poland, handing those unsavory rulers the power to force Britain into war. Given the British guarantee, Warsaw was unwilling to negotiate with Germany. Extending NATO to Ukraine or Georgia would allow those unstable states to force the U.S. and other NATO countries into war with Russia.

    Ukraine's membership would be even more of a provocation than Georgia's. The Crimean Peninsula is a flash point. In 1954, the peninsula was transferred from Russian to Ukrainian administration, partly as a reward to Ukraine, partly because the peninsula was geographically closer to Ukraine. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine claimed the peninsula. The population, however, generally speaks Russian, not Ukrainian, and identifies more with Moscow than with Kiev. In 2001 the population of Crimea was about 52 percent Russian, 24 percent Ukrainian, and 18 percent Tatar, with other groups making up the balance. Under a 20-year treaty with Ukraine that expires in 2017, the Russian navy is stationed in Sevastopol. This provides Moscow with a year-round warm water port with access not only to the Black Sea but ultimately to the Mediterranean. Were Ukraine to join NATO, Russia would be expected to abandon its naval base. Clearly, it would be very unwilling to do so and would probably encourage the local population to demand independence from Ukraine.

    There have been several attempts by the population of the Crimea to become independent. The peninsula now has considerable autonomy. Recently it has been alleged that Russia has been issuing passports to those in the Crimea who request them. In South Ossetia the Russians have given their passports to anyone who wanted one, leading to the claim that the Russian army was simply protecting its own nationals.

    The Bush administration has led America into two interminable wars. It has threatened Iran with attacks and has been attempting to box in Russia by adding more countries to NATO, thus giving small, backward countries with unstable governments the power to ignite another war. The U.S. cannot afford a third conflict, either in money or in human lives. We should neither include these states in NATO nor should we build the anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe. By cooperating with Russia, we might be able to achieve a great deal of good in the world, but cornering the Russian bear might lead to catastrophe.


    Russia Signs Defense Pacts With South Ossetia, Abkhazia
    September 17, 2008


    MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed treaties with Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Wednesday that commit Moscow to defend the breakaway regions from any Georgian attack.

    The treaties formalize military, diplomatic and economic co-operation between Moscow and the separatist regions, which Russia recognized as independent states after its brief war with Georgia last month.

    In Tbilisi, a senior Georgian diplomat said Russia had annexed sovereign Georgian territory, and a U.S. State Department official said Russia should honor previous commitments it had made to Georgia's territorial integrity.

    Western states accused Russia of a disproportionate response after it sent its troops into Georgia last month and then recognized the two regions.

    Moscow said it had a moral duty to act to defend them from what it called a genocide by Georgia's military in South Ossetia, which had tried to retake the region by force.

    "The documents we have signed envisage that our countries will jointly undertake the necessary measures for counteracting threats to peace ... and opposing acts of aggression," Medvedev said after a lavish signing ceremony in the Kremlin.

    "We will show each other all necessary support, including military support," Medvedev said.

    "A repeat of the Georgian aggression ... would lead to a catastrophe on a regional scale, so no one should be in doubt that we will not allow new military adventures."

    Recognise Georgian regions says Ukraine's Crimea
    September 17, 2008

    SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Parliament in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, defying the country's pro-Western leaders, called on the national parliament to follow Russia's example and recognise Georgia's two separatist regions.

    Crimea, a Ukrainian region with a degree of self-government, is populated mainly by ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers and local leaders have often adopted pro-Russian positions or even sought to rejoin Russia.

    Some analysts suggested that Russia's conflict with Georgia over South Ossetia could rekindle pro-Moscow or even separatist sentiment in Crimea.

    The local assembly voted 79 to 8 to urge Ukraine's national parliament to recognise the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Only Russia and Nicaragua have done so, an action denounced by the United States and European Union.

    Ukraine's pro-Western leaders, committed to joining NATO, denounced Moscow's intervention in South Ossetia in support of what Moscow says are Russian nationals there. They deny any suggestion that a similar conflict could erupt in Crimea.

    Crimea became a part of Russia in the late 18th century and was formally handed to Soviet Ukraine in 1954, when the collapse of the Soviet Union was unthinkable.

    The region remains autonomous, though Ukrainian authorities cracked down on separatism in the mid-1990s.

    Russian nationalist politicians call periodically for the return of at least Sevastopol, the Crimean port where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based under a lease agreement.

    U.S. intelligence gathering ship enters Sevastopol harbor

    SEVASTOPOL, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Pathfinder ship entered on Tuesday the Sevastopol harbor that is home to the Ukrainian navy and Russia's Black Sea Fleet, a Russian naval source said.

    "This is the second planned visit of Pathfinder at the invitation of Ukraine in the past 10 days," the source said.

    USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) is an oceanographic survey ship owned by the Military Sealift Command and has a civilian crew and scientists on board.

    According to official statements, Pathfinder is searching for a ship which sank in the harbor during World War II.

    However, Russian intelligence believes that ships of the Pathfinder class could be used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering purposes.

    "We have reliable information confirming that the [Pathfinder] ship has arrived in the Black Sea primarily to conduct intelligence gathering operations in support of the NATO naval task group currently deployed in the area," the source said.

    Russian intelligence experts suspect that the ship may be carrying surveillance equipment that could survey the depths and the condition of the sea shelf and monitor the movement of submerged submarines at a distance of up to 100 km (over 60 miles).

    Russia is seriously concerned over the increased presence of NATO naval forces near its main naval base in the Black Sea, which hosts at least 50 warships and smaller vessels, along with 80 aircraft.

    The base has been a source of friction between Russia and Ukraine in recent years, as Ukraine's pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko has sought NATO and EU membership for the country and demanded that the Black Sea Fleet must leave the base after a bilateral lease agreement expires in 2017.

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    Putin says ties with Latin America a top priority
    Sep 25, 2008

    NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AP) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to make relations with Latin America a top foreign policy priority, a pledge backed by the first Russian naval deployment to the Caribbean since the Cold War.

    Putin greeted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on his second trip to Russia in just over two months, with offers to discuss further arms sales to Venezuela and possibly helping it to develop nuclear energy.

    Chavez's visit takes place as a Russian naval squadron sails to Venezuela, across the Caribbean Sea from the United States, in a pointed response to what the Kremlin has cast as threatening U.S. encroachment near its own borders.

    Both men suggested their countries are working to decrease U.S. global influence.

    "Latin America is becoming a noticeable link in the chain of the multi-polar world that is forming," Putin said at his suburban residence at the start of his talks with Chavez. "We will pay more and more attention to this vector of our economic and foreign policy."

    Russia is the latest leg in a tour taking Chavez to a number of nations whose governments are eager to counter U.S. global clout. He stopped briefly in Cuba on his way to China, where he touted agreements to increase oil exports and purchase military jets.

    In an interview broadcast on Russian television before the visit, Chavez said that Venezuela and Latin America as a whole need "friends like Russia" to help them shed U.S. "domination" and ensure peace.

    Russia has ramped up its cooperation with Caracas further since last month's war with Georgia, which has badly damaged Moscow's already strained ties with the West and particularly the United States.

    Russia's deployment of warships to Venezuela for naval maneuvers came after the United States used naval ships to ferry aid to Georgia after the war — a mission Russian officials harshly criticized.

    The Russian naval deployment follows a weeklong visit to Venezuela by a pair of Russian strategic bombers. On his Sunday TV and radio program, Chavez joked that he would be making his international tour aboard the "super-bombers that Medvedev loaned me."

    Chavez has also talked about creating "a new strategic energy alliance" with between the oil-rich nations.

    After visiting Venezuela this month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said five major Russian oil companies are looking to form a consortium to increase Latin American operations and to build a $6.5 billion refinery to process Venezuelan crude.

    Putin said that Russia's Gazprom state natural gas giant will launch its first drilling rig next month to tap Venezuela's offshore gas reserves.

    2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader responds to a question from the audience about the Russia/Georgia conflict.

    September 29, 2008
    McCain and Obama on Russia - The First Presidential Debate

    JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR: New lead question.

    Russia, goes to you, two minutes, Senator Obama. How do you see the relationship with Russia? Do you see them as a competitor? Do you see them as an enemy? Do you see them as a potential partner?

    OBAMA: Well, I think that, given what's happened over the last several weeks and months, our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region.

    Their actions in Georgia were unacceptable. They were unwarranted. And at this point, it is absolutely critical for the next president to make clear that we have to follow through on our six-party -- or the six-point cease-fire. They have to remove themselves from South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    It is absolutely important that we have a unified alliance and that we explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st-century superpower, or power, and act like a 20th-century dictatorship.

    And we also have to affirm all the fledgling democracies in that region, you know, the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Poles, the Czechs, that we are, in fact, going to be supportive and in solidarity with them in their efforts. They are members of NATO.

    And to countries like Georgia and the Ukraine, I think we have to insist that they are free to join NATO if they meet the requirements, and they should have a membership action plan immediately to start bringing them in.


    LEHRER: Two minutes on Russia, Senator McCain.

    MCCAIN: Well, I was interested in Senator Obama's reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, "Both sides ought to show restraint."

    Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn't understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government.

    I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters, a "K," a "G," and a "B." And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior.

    Now, I think the Russians ought to understand that we will support -- we, the United States -- will support the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in the natural process, inclusion into NATO.

    We also ought to make it very clear that the Russians are in violation of their cease-fire agreement. They have stationed additional troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    So, this is a very difficult situation. We want to work with the Russians. But we also have every right to expect the Russians to behave in a fashion and keeping with a -- with a -- with a country who respects international boundaries and the norms of international behavior.

    And watch Ukraine. This whole thing has got a lot to do with Ukraine, Crimea, the base of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol. And the breakdown of the political process in Ukraine between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko is a very serious problem.

    So watch Ukraine, and let's make sure that we -- that the Ukrainians understand that we are their friend and ally.

    LEHRER: You see any -- do you have a major difference with what he just said?

    OBAMA: No
    , actually, I think Senator McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues. Obviously, I disagree with this notion that somehow we did not forcefully object to Russians going into Georgia.

    I immediately said that this was illegal and objectionable. And, absolutely, I wanted a cessation of the violence, because it put an enormous strain on Georgia, and that's why I was the first to say that we have to rebuild the Georgian economy and called for a billion dollars that has now gone in to help them rebuild.

    Biden Meets With Saakashvili, Pledges American Support
    September 26, 2008

    ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports: Sen. Joe Biden met with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Friday in Milwaukee, pledging American support for Georgia and promising not to "let the intentions of the Russian government to bring down the democratically-elected government" of Georgia.

    "We're old friends, we've known each other for some time," said Biden. "Before President Saakashvili was president, we knew one another and we had been in close contact before and during and after Russia tried to topple a democratically-elected government."

    "What we've been talking about and what we'll continue to talk about is our effort to see to it that they do not succeed," concluded Biden. "It's important Russians pay a price for what they've done."

    Blast kills 7 Russian soldiers in South Ossetia
    Oct 03, 2008

    A car exploded Friday, killing seven soldiers outside Russia's military headquarters in South Ossetia, and Russian authorities charged it was a terrorist bombing meant to wreck the tense cease-fire that ended their war with Georgia.

    The Russian commander in South Ossetia, Col. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, said two cars were confiscated by his troops in an ethnic Georgian village after a search found guns and grenades. The cars were moved to the military headquarters in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital, and one of them — with Georgian license plates — exploded during a further search, he said.

    Kulakhmetov said the blast was caused by a bomb with a force equivalent to 44 pounds of TNT. Televised footage showed a cloud of black smoke rising into the air, and South Ossetia's government said the blast shattered windows of nearby buildings.

    Merkel to Russia: Georgia territory non-negotiable
    Oct 02, 2008

    ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Oct 2 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her Russian hosts during a visit on Thursday that Georgia's territorial integrity was non-negotiable, implicitly rebuking Moscow for recognising two Georgian regions as independent states.

    Merkel also said in opening remarks at a joint news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that countries should be able to decide freely if they wanted to join the NATO military alliance.

    Germany's position, as expressed at the NATO Bucharest summit, was that Georgia and Romania were not yet ready to join and in December there would be a first opportunity to evaluate their situation again, she added.

    03 Oct 2008
    Russia to stage largest air force war games since Soviet times

    Russia will stage its largest air force war games since Soviet times next week in the latest stage of the Kremlin's strategy to show off the country as a military superpower reborn.

    Their progress watched closely by increasingly jittery western militaries, dozens of nuclear bombers will take part in the exercise. Tu-95 Bear bombers will fire cruise missiles at targets in sub-Arctic Russia for the first time since 1984.

    While Russia insists that the war games are not meant as a gesture of aggression, the West is growing increasingly uneasy about the scale of the manoeuvres.

    The aerial exercises, which will take place close to American airspace in Alaska, are part of a month-long war game known as Stability 2008 that Russia claims is the biggest for 20 years.

    As the bombers take to the air next week, Russian ships will also be conducting exercises in the North Sea and the Baltic as well as in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A flotilla of war ships is also sailing to the Caribbean for joint exercises with Venezuela, Washington's greatest foe in South America, which will come within a few hundred miles of the US coastline.

    A Russian nuclear powered submarine has also just docked in the Kamchatka peninsula after completing a one-month voyage under the Arctic Ocean without resurfacing. The Kremlin has made territorial claims to a large portion of the Arctic, which holds vast energy supplies under its rapidly shrinking ice.

    Not since the end of the Cold War has Russia demonstrated its global military reach in such a manner.

    Over 60,000 troops and 1,500 tanks and armoured personnel carriers have taken part in the first fortnight of exercises. Land-based and submarine launched nuclear missiles have also been tested. Once the bombers have fired their cruise missiles next week, Russia will have carried out its first near-simultaneous test launches of all elements of its nuclear triad since the Cold War.

    The has worried military observers critical of the Kremlin, who say the scope and character of the exercises does not gel with official explanations that they are designed to train the country's armed forces in counter-terrorism and military defence.

    Pavel Felgenhauer, a respected military analyst, says the geographical reach of the exercises suggests that they are intended to simulate a nuclear war with the United States.

    "Russia is preparing for the eventuality of a nuclear war," he said. "These are the most elaborate war games for 20 years and is clear evidence that we are returning to the Cold War."

    As relations with the West have deteriorated, Russia has shown that it is increasingly willing to flex its military might. Long-range nuclear bombers are again patrolling the skies near Western airspace. One squadron came within 90 seconds of Hull last month after apparently escaping the detection of British warning systems.

  • image

    The Cold War That Wasn't
    Unreliable Sources
    by MARK AMES
    October 22, 2008 (excerpt)

    You may not have noticed it, but a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times slipped in a story that completely contradicted a narrative that it had been building up for two straight months, one that was leading America into another war--a so-called "New Cold War." The article exposed the awful authoritarian reality of Georgia's so-called democracy, painting a dark picture of President Mikhail Saakashvili's rule that repudiated the fairy tale that the Times and everyone else in the major media had been pushing ever since war broke out in South Ossetia in early August. That fairy tale went like this: Russia (evil) invaded Georgia (good) for no reason whatsoever except that Georgia was free. Putin hates freedom, and Saakashvili is the "democratically elected leader" of a "small, democratic country."

    Yes, it was only a month ago that we were stupid and crazy enough to think that the United States had no choice but to launch a costly new cold war against a nuclear power, even though we still haven't closed the deal on a couple of mini-wars against Division-III opponents, and we were on the verge of bankruptcy. Ah, to be blissfully naïve--and bloodthirsty at the same time--wasn't it wonderful?

    As the South Ossetia war raged in early- and mid-August, the Times published an editorial labeling Georgia's invasion as "Russia's War of Ambition"; it also published a series of hysterical op-eds, including William Kristol's comparing Russia to Nazi Germany (Hitler's charred skull must be spinning in its museum case from being turned into the cheapest cliché in the hack's analogy box), and another from Svante E. Cornell of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins--the same corruption-plagued institute that ABC News discovered was taking money from Kazakhstan's tyrant for issuing positive reports about that authoritarian oil-rich country.

    Cornell 's piece argued that Russia attacked Georgia not in response to Georgia's invasion of the breakaway South Ossetian province but rather because Russia was just plain evil--and, in the style of evil villains everywhere, Russia had no motive other than to show "the consequences post-Soviet countries will suffer for standing up to Moscow, conducting democratic reforms and seeking military and economic ties with the West."

    The hysteria of two months ago already seems so dated and even bizarre, from our mid-meltdown vantage--as if reading the hysteria from a black-and-white era.

    And yet even as the hysteria gave way to serious questioning, and that dangerously simple narrative crumbled, the Times never recanted or corrected itself, never even had a fake mea culpa moment as it did after Iraq--an admission that came years too late. Instead of recanting, the Times took the sly road, slipping an article in between the meltdown stories that essentially told its readers, "Yeah, we screwed the pooch on Georgia, hope ya didn't notice, and, uh, have a nice day."

    Ever since I went down to South Ossetia to see the war for myself, I'd developed a kind of sick curiosity to see just how the Times and all the others were going to extricate themselves from the credibility-hole they'd dug. I had a feeling it was going to come, because Saakashvili was not only a blatant liar but an incredibly bad liar. I was in South Ossetia at the close of the war--I saw the destruction that the "freedom-loving" Georgians wreaked, and the bloated, rotting corpses on the streets of the province's capital city, Tskhinvali--so I was particularly interested in how long the sleazy tale of good vs. evil would last, and how the major media would squirm their way out of their biggest journalistic fiasco since the Iraqi-WMD blooper. Would the Times let their ombudsman out of the cage for another fake apology? "Oops! Who'da thunk our esteemed newspaper coulda screwed up this big twice in a row, dragging America into yet another war all on account of our inability to do our job as journalists?! Look, we just want to say we're sorry and move on, m'kay? So, have you moved on yet? Because we have."

    And this is where the secular-humanist god of the liberal media intervened. The Times and everyone else who peddled the neocon/Saakashvili line was saved from facing up to their colossal failure by an even bigger disaster, the worst disaster to hit this country since 9/11: the global economic meltdown. Someone's prayers were answered.

    One of the prayer kingdom's biggest secrets is how common these "I hope a disaster comes and saves me" whispers are. For example, when I was a college student, every time finals week approached, I wanted to get hit by a car. Final exams meant facing the unbearable shame of four wasted months. So I'd slip on my headphones, zig off of the sidewalk and zag into Berkeley's traffic-clogged streets like an unleashed Irish setter, waiting for some hippie to splatter me on his VW van windshield. If it meant spending the next twenty years on a feeding tube, that seemed a fair tradeoff.

    But the hippie drivers, with their insane respect for pedestrians, wouldn't cooperate. Like the evangelical Christian's apocalypse, my prayed-for mega-disaster that would save me from my private mini-disaster never arrived.

    In that sense, the Times and all the other Saakashvili pom-pom-ers were lucky: the VW van that never hit me during finals week leveled the entire planet's financial well-being, saving journalism's biggest names from owning up to their failure. And the unmistakable evidence for this failure just keeps pouring in: today, for example, Reporters Without Borders ranked Georgia near the bottom of its press freedom index--well below notoriously despotic nations like Tajikistan, Gabon and even Hugo Chávez's villainous Venezuela. So yes, thank [NAME OF OMNISCIENT BEING] for the financial meltdown, because even though it may mean pink slips for many of the reporters and editors who screwed up the Georgia story, I have a funny feeling that when they're standing in the soup kitchen line a few months from now, they'll be thinking with relief, "Homelessness may suck, but it's a small price to pay for avoiding the colossal shame I was about to face over the Georgia war story. Thank you, global depression! You've made this journalist happy!"

    Scott Horton Interviews Mark Ames
    October 30th, 2008

    Mark Ames, author of “The Cold War that Wasn’t” in The Nation, discusses the dominant narrative and ideological underpinnings in the U.S. press regarding the recent Georgian attack on South Ossetia and subsequent Russian counterattack on Georgia, the attempt to portray Russia as the aggressor by floating the idea of a first-strike cyber war despite the lack of any evidence, the alleged poisoning of Ukraine’s Victor Yushchenko and the current dispute between Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko over her reaction to the Georgia war, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, the precedent set by U.S. intervention in Kosovo, the danger of putting “defensive” missiles in Eastern Europe while the U.S. foreign policy establishment contemplates first strike capability, U.S. NED support for the Russian National Bolsheviks, the “shock therapy” robbery of Russian resources under Yeltsin’s autocracy in the 1990s and the consequences.


    I survived the Georgian war. Here's what I saw. I blame Georgia's leaders.
    by Lira Tskhovrebova
    October 8, 2008

    TSKHINVALI, SOUTH OSSETIA - In a speech before the United Nations last month, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili implored world leaders to set up an international investigation to find out the truth about the war in South Ossetia.

    I couldn't agree more. But I think the results of an honest investigation would reveal a very different "truth" than what President Saakashvili claims.

    I know this because I was in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, on Aug. 7 when Georgian troops marched into the city and killed my friends and neighbors. I huddled with my family in terror for three nights while Saakashvili's tanks and rockets destroyed hundreds of our homes, desecrated cemeteries, gutted schools and hospitals.

    I also have good reason not to trust what Saakashvili says. For three days before the attack I had been getting calls from many Georgian friends warning me to get out. They said Saakashvili was planning an attack. Most of the Georgians living in South Ossetia left because they knew what was coming.

    On the night of Aug. 7, Saakashvili went on television and assured the frightened civilian population of South Ossetia that he would not attack us. This was long after the time Saakashvili now claims Russians had begun "invading" Georgia.

    Ossetians went to bed relieved and thankful for a peaceful night.

    Less than two hours later, according to credible international accounts, his artillery, bombers, and three brigades of ground troops unleashed what I can only describe as a fierce hell on our city. In the moment, we knew only our fear as we hid. Afterward I spoke with hundreds of Ossetians to find out what was done to us.

    My friend's elderly father tried to douse the flames set by Georgian fire on the home he had built with his hands. His leg was severed by shrapnel from Georgian weapons. He bled to death while his disabled wife crawled from their burning home.

    Ossetians saw Georgian tanks firing into basements where women and children hid for safety They saw fleeing families shot down by Georgian snipers. We learned that the Georgian military had used Grad rocket systems and cluster bombs against Tskhinvali.

    Yes, I would very much like to see an international commission investigate the truth of what happened.

    When I came out from hiding, thanking God that the Russians had saved our lives, I was dismayed by the reaction of the international media to what had happened. There was nothing about Ossetian deaths and the unprovoked horrors inflicted by Saakashvili's military. It made my heart sick.

    The truth has been crushed by Georgia's powerful public relations machine as mercilessly as Georgian tanks rolled over the defenseless civilians of Tskhinvali.

    I know that Americans are a generous and fair people. But Americans haven't been told the truth about what happened to us. Americans don't understand that Ossetians are an independent, Christian Orthodox people with a deep history in our land. The world talks only about Georgian freedom. What of freedom for my people? Does our suffering, do our voices, mean nothing?

    I don't blame the Georgian people for what happened to us. The vast number of Ossetians and Georgians want to live in peace. I blame Georgia's leaders.

    Saakashvili has persuaded the world that he is a "beacon" of democracy and openness. But he won't even tell his own people the truth. My Georgian friends weren't allowed to see any Russian news sites during the conflict because all of those sites were blocked by Saakashvili's government.

    I know we are a small people, and I make no claim to understanding the experts in geopolitics with their theories and pronouncements about the great powers. But I have fought for women's rights in Ossetia for 12 years and I believe in the truth.

    In a recent article, Saakashvili cynically dismissed Ossetian suffering and deaths because, he said, Russia had "lied" about how many of my people were killed by the Georgian military.

    It breaks my heart to even engage in this discussion. No one – including Saakashvili – knows how many Ossetians were killed by his Army. I have friends who buried loved ones in their backyards because there were no alternatives. Many people are still missing.

    Does Saakashvili believe his vicious attack on a civilian city was justified if he only killed a few hundred rather than a few thousand? Do Americans realize that a military trained and equipped by the US government attacked a civilian population as they slept in their beds? Can they justify sending another billion dollars to Georgia and nothing for those Georgia attacked?

    I have made an urgent appeal to the world for humanitarian relief for our people at the website I beg the United States and the world to find out the truth. Please hear our voices.



    Russian navy to hold war games
    November 02, 2008

    THE Russian navy will hold war games in the Indian Ocean in a bid to boost its global presence, a navy spokesman says, announcing Moscow's latest move to flex its military muscle.

    Ships from the Pacific Ocean Fleet and forces from the Northern Fleet will meet and carry out joint military exercises in the Indian Ocean basin,'' navy spokesman Igor Dygalo today said in a statement.

    Mr Dygalo did not specify when the exercises would take place, but he said warships from Russia's Vladivostok-based Pacific Ocean Fleet would leave "shortly'' for the Arabian Sea, docking in various ports on the way.

    He called the Indian Ocean manoeuvres part of an effort to raise the Russian navy's worldwide profile before the end of the year.

    "In the remaining months of 2008, Russian Navy Central Command will increase the presence of Russian Navy forces in the world ocean in the interests of strengthening stability and security in its various regions,'' he said.

    This month, a flotilla of Russian warships from the Northern Fleet, based in the Arctic port of Severomorsk, are to hold exercises with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean Sea.

    The flotilla, led by the massive nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great, stopped in Libya last month as part of a global show of Russian might not seen since the Cold War.,21985,24589165-5005961,00.html

  • Nov 5, 2008
    Medvedev: Russia to deploy missiles near Poland

    Russia will deploy missiles near NATO member Poland in response to US missile defense plans, President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday in his first state of the nation speech.

    Medvedev also singled out the United States for criticism, casting Russia's war with Georgia in August and the global financial turmoil as consequences of aggressive, selfish US policies.

    He said he hoped the next US administration would act to improve relations. In a separate telegram, he congratulated Barack Obama on his election victory and said he was hoping for "constructive dialogue" with the incoming US president.

    Medvedev also proposed increasing the Russian presidential term to six years from the current four.

    The president said the Iskander missiles will be deployed to Russia's Kaliningrad region, which lies between Poland and the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, but did not say how many would be used. Equipment to electronically hamper the operation of prospective US missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic will be deployed, he said.

    He did not say whether the short-range Iskander missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads and it was not clear exactly when the missiles would be deployed.

    Medvedev also painted Russia as a country threatened by growing Western military might.

    "From what we have seen in recent years, the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of NATO, we have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength," Medvedev said.

    He announced deployment of the short-range missiles as a military response to US plans to deploy missile-defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic - former Soviet satellites that are now NATO members.

    Speaking just hours after Obama was declared the victor in the US presidential election, Medvedev said he hoped the incoming administration will take steps to improve badly damaged US ties with Russia. He suggested it is up to the US - not the Kremlin - to seek to improve relations.

    "I stress that we have no problem with the American people, no inborn anti-Americanism. And we hope that our partners, the US administration, will make a choice in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia," Medvedev said.

    Tension in Russian-American relations has been driven to a post-Cold War high by Moscow's war with US ally Georgia.

    On the financial crisis, Medvedev said overconfidence in American dominance after the collapse of the Soviet Union "led the US authorities to major mistakes in the economic sphere." The administration ignored warnings and harmed itself and others by "blowing up a money bubble to stimulate its own growth," he said.

    Medvedev said the president's tenure should be lengthened to six years to enable the government to more effectively implement reforms. He said the term of the parliament also should be extended by a year to five years, and that parliament's power must be increased by requiring the Cabinet to report to lawmakers regularly.

    The proposals were Medvedev's first major initiative to amend the constitution since he was elected in March to succeed his longtime mentor Vladimir Putin.

    Germany concerned over Russian missiles near Polish border
    BERLIN, November 5

    Germany expressed concern on Wednesday over the possible deployment of Iskander missile systems near Poland and will discuss the issue with Russia as soon as possible, a German diplomat said.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday in his first state of the nation address to parliament that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missile systems in its exclave of Kaliningrad "to neutralize if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe."

    "I believe today's announcement [by the Russian president] is the wrong signal sent at the wrong time," Jens Ploetner, an official spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said, adding that Germany is in favor of constructive dialogue between Russia and NATO on the U.S. missile shield issue.

    Russia's Iskander-M tactical system is equipped with high-precision SS-26 Stone "quasiballistic" missiles reportedly capable of carrying multiple conventional and nuclear warheads.

    According to Russian military analysts, the deployment of Iskander missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad region would allow Russia to target the entire territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

    Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

    The United States claims the new bases are needed to counter missile attacks by "rogue states" such as Iran.

    The U.S. signed deals on the missile shield with Warsaw and Prague during the summer. Polish and Czech lawmakers have yet to ratify the agreements.

    Russian officials earlier said Moscow could deploy its Iskander tactical missile systems and strategic bombers in Belarus, and warned that Russia could target its missiles at Poland.

    Unproven and unwanted
    The Czechs don't want the US missile defence programme on their soil. Why should Britain roll over and accept it?
    Guardian, Wednesday November 05 2008

    There was little coverage here when Czech parliamentarians went on hunger strike earlier this year. Representing 70% of the Czech people, they were objecting to a base in the Czech Republic as part of the American missile defence programme. Like most Europeans, they believe that missile defence makes Europe – including the UK– less safe, not more. Indeed, polls have shown that less than a quarter of Britons disagree that missile defence involvement puts Britain on the front line.

    This Czech base would be linked to another in neighbouring Poland, designed to house ten interceptor missiles as part of the same shield. Forty more missiles are being sited at Fort Greeley in Alaska, and yet more at the Ronald Reagan missile base in California.

    On top of this deployment, it is proposed to settle another one hundred and thirty interceptor rockets on naval vessels. Ultimately, the United States Department of Defense plans to incorporate space-based, laser, and high altitude elements to this shield, in line with their military doctrine of full-spectrum dominance.

    However, there are many problems associated with this "son of Star Wars". Firstly, it aims to shoot down missiles in space – akin to a bullet hitting a bullet at a closing speed of four miles per second (14,900 miles per hour). Senior scientists and former US government figures like Ted Postol and Dick Garwin insist that the programme is a chimerical pursuit of the unworkable.

    The only tests to date which appear to have worked involved planting a homing device in the target to ensure accuracy. What about a hostile missile equipped with countermeasures, throwing out decoys against interceptors? Surely anyone capable of launching an inter-continental ballistic missile would also be prescient enough to include protective counter measures?

    This is also a hugely expensive programme. It has been priced at $450bn. One hundred billion dollars have already been spent on development without any solid evidence that missile defence actually works. Although John McCain is an enthusiast, Barack Obama has questioned its huge cost and doubtful outcome.

    Yet the biggest problem is its destabilising effect. It sets Russian against Pole and Czech. It has created a world where Putin and his generals can point to an encircling American military. Ever since the US revoked the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, Russia has looked nervously at American expansion. Missile defence, they fear, is ultimately aimed at them, and their strategic defence capability.

    The Americans point the finger at "rogue states" – nowadays, a euphemism for Iran. However, when North Korea was the prime concern, the US engaged in an ultimately successful dialogue with them on their weapons programme. If Russia and the European Union had their way, talking with Tehran would remain the way forward.

    Russia has actually called America's bluff on missile defence, offering co-operation against rogue states, and the use of radar facilities within Russia. The Americans turned them down, as our government surreptitiously allowed the incorporation of RAF Fylingdales and RAF Menwith Hill into the American system. This was without the public and parliamentary debate demanded by more than two thirds of the British public, and promised by Tony Blair in February 2007.

    Now, what would I think if I were Russian?