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Thereís no smoke without fire

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 17
This is a popular Russian saying. We are using it here because this column concerns Russiaís conduct in the occupied territories of Georgia.

Since Russia occupied parts of Georgia in August it has continually reinforced its occupying army and is now introducing even more troops, tanks and other assault weapons onto Georgian territory. Neither Georgia nor the Western powers can do anything to stop this. This already serious situation is being further aggravated by information spread in the Georgian media that there is a real possibility of Moscow repeating its aggression in a very short while, maybe before the new US Administration starts fully functioning.

Some days ago Georgian news agency Media News reported that Putin had recently considered two different plans to attack Georgia. One was submitted by the Russian Defence Ministry, another by the External Intelligence Service. The Defence Ministry plan was proposed by the head of the General Headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces, Nikolai Makarov, and envisages the storming and taking of Tbilisi as quickly as possible, because if Georgia manages to introduce an efficient air defence system Russian aviation will lose its effectiveness. Makarovís plan envisages a sudden attack by airborne forces under the command of General Evtukhovich and Russian paratroopers from the Tskhinvali region town of Akhalgori, which would take approximately 3 hours. Other Russian paratroopers will take Tbilisi International Airport and other important sites in and around the capital, so that within the first few hours of the conflict they will suppress the resistance of the Georgian Armed Forces. At the same time, Russian troops will block the Georgian central highway so that Georgian troops in the Western part of the country will not be able to relieve Tbilisi.

Makarovís plan is confident that street fights and severe resistance will take place in Tbilisi, but even in such a situation the Russian political leadership should not take the decision to stop fulfilling its intention.

The head of the External Intelligence Service, Mikhail Fradkov, has greatly criticised Makarovís plan, saying that it may have no fault from the military point of view but is politically unacceptable. The Russian Intelligence Service is sure that storming Tbilisi will be militarily successful, but Moscow must then forget about installing a pro-Russian government in Georgia. The Russian Intelligence Service also thinks that such a storming of Tbilisi might give the USA and Turkey legal grounds to assist Georgia militarily. Its bosses have offered Putin an alternative plan: a blockade of Tbilisi. According to this, Russian paratroopers will occupy Poti and block the Tbilisi-Gori highway so that Georgian troops cannot reach the capital. Simultaneously Russian troops deployed in Armenia will block all the roads entering Georgia from the south, thus preventing humanitarian cargo from reaching Tbilisi through Batumi and Turkey. At the same time, serious pressure will be put on Azerbaijan, to prevent it sending humanitarian assistance to Georgia. This plan envisages creating a humanitarian catastrophe in the capital within a fortnight, and the fall of Tbilisi, bloodlessly, in a few days.

Georgian commentators think such a thing is possible. Military analyst Irakli Sesiashvili told Versia newspaper that he suspects this idea of Russiaís intentions is close to reality, and could become so in a shorter period than we could imagine. It should be said that if Georgia takes some serious and efficient steps immediately, Russiaís plans will be frustrated. But Georgia will suffer if Moscow starts implementing either plan. Both these options are wicked, and one more barbaric than the other.

Maybe we could suggest that such speculations about external threats are being deliberately broadcast to divert peopleís attention from internal problems. But in late spring and early summer of this year the Georgian media disseminated information about a possible Russian attack in August. This warning was ignored by our Western friends, but the attack happened. Russia again has the means to create any kind of provocation, its politicians are sure they can persuade European leaders not to interfere, and the US is in the process of transition from old to new administration.

The Russians say it - No smoke without fire.