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August war just part of an ongoing Russian aggression

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 17
In about a month’s time the fact finding commission established by the EU to examine the details of last August’s Russian invasion, led by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, has to submit its final report. The major question is who started the war, when, and how it developed from there.

It is obvious that the conclusion which is drawn will have great political importance and most probably influence further developments not only in this region but around the world. If the commission says Georgia started the conflict this would give Russia an excuse to further enlarge the scale of its aggression not only against Georgia but its other neighbours and the rest of the world. This aggression is not only military but economic, as with the new Milk war with Belarus and the Gas war against Europe last winter. But if the commission puts the blame on Russia the international community will finally unmask Moscow, and maybe give itself the courage to at least limit Russia’s greedy appetite.

The Georgian media speculates that the Tagliavini commission members are under continual and considerable pressure from the Russian side, which wants to see conclusions favourable to itself. The Russians are mainly basing their claims of innocence on one statement by General Mamuka Kurashvili, the head of Georgian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, who they say gave a verbal commitment to restoring constitutional order in South Ossetia. Whether this was the individual decision and initiative of Kurashvili or whether it was an order from the Commander-in-Chief or some other member of the Georgian political elite is not yet known. However Kurashvili has said that he was in a highly emotional state when he made this statement and after the stress of being involved in border shooting incidents he was not in control of his actions.

The Georgian version of the pre-7 August events is that separatist-controlled armed formations, supported by the Russian armed forces, were continually bombarding Georgian villages, killing and wounding people and destroying their homes. Therefore the Georgian side claims that the war started at least a week before August 7 and Tbilisi only responded to this provocation to protect its population.

Georgian experts predict that the Tagliavini Commission’s conclusion will be balanced and not point the finger at either side. It will just list all the instances of shooting and bombardment it can corroborate, and possibly mention that there was a disproportionate use of force. They also think that the facts reported by the commission will be accurate, correct and true. In short, it will be a fair report, but not one which follows its statements through to their logical conclusion of apportioning blame for the things it will say happened.

About a week ago a collection of analytical works by different international political scientists, analysts and experts was published in the USA. It is called August Guns 2009 – the Russian Georgian war. Georgian Ambassador to the US Batu Kutelia has stated that this book correctly relates what was going on before the war and during it. It is very significant that this book is not the work of just one author but a collection of researches and analyses by a group of serious professionals, some of whom are Russians who have held very high positions in Moscow. For instance former advisor to Vladimir Putin Andrey Ilarionov openly states in the book that the Russian-Georgian war did not start last August but long before. Ilarionov thinks that the war is not yet over and analysis suggests that it had been in preparation for almost 10 years in military, economic, infrastructure, diplomatic, legal, propaganda and psychological terms. Ilarionov suggest that this war is unprecedented, as in no other case has an open conflict been preceded by 10 years of thorough and scrupulous repression by one particular side.

There are other former high ranking Russian officials who are commenting on the Russian invasion too. Among these is Boris Volodarsky, a former kingpin in the Russian central military intelligence agency. He has told Ichkeria Info that Russia had been discretely storming Georgia from August 1 to 7 and that Russian tanks entered Georgian territory through the Roki Tunnel before Georgia starting bombarding Tskhinvali. He also said that Tskhinvali was initially bombarded from the northern side, which was not controlled by Georgians who are on the other side of the town.

Georgia is owed a report which gives a true picture of Russia’s aggression. Only when armed with this truth can Georgia maintain even the slightest possibility of ever regaining that part of its territory now occupied by Russia.