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Dress rehearsal for repetition of last year?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, August 3
Whether we like it or not, these last days of July and beginning of August look exactly like they did last year. Weapons are being fired from the separatist and Russian-occupied territories in the direction of Georgian villages near the administrative border between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia. As it did last year, Moscow is making statements accusing the Georgian side of shooting and its puppet dummies are repeating these allegations. Moreover, the Tskhinvali regime is making additional territorial claims against Georgia.

The situation has become rather tense. The Kremlin is continually trying to brainwash not only its population but the world into believing that little Georgia is going to attack the Russian armed forces. Therefore some Georgian political analysts don’t exclude Russia’s willingness to repeat last year’s aggression and in the end destroy Georgia’s statehood. However they still express the hope that the EU and US’s expressed positions on Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity might force Moscow to abandon its aggressive plans.

The Russian media intensively reports that the Georgian side is bombarding the “territory of South Ossetia.” In response to these self-manufactured reports the Russian Defence Ministry has made an official statement that it is ready to use force to secure the safety of the South Ossetian population and Russian soldiers there. Parallel to this the Tskhinvali dummy regime, encouraged by Russia’s new imperialists, is making extra territorial claims. On July 31 puppet ruler of South Ossetia Kokoity made an official statement that the Truso Gorge attached to the Kazbegi region belongs to South Ossetia and Georgia has to return it. The separatists are also claiming territories inside the Borjomi region including the town and village of Bakuriani. So the appetite is there.

Georgian expert on Caucasus issues Mamuka Areshidze thinks that the Russians are preparing big provocations for the anniversary of the August invasion. He even suggests a scenario: some people, presumably Ossetian, dressed in Georgian uniforms might attack an Ossetian-populated village in the administrative border zone, carry out some atrocities there and blame Georgians for them, thus creating a precedent and motivation for the Russians to launch a military attack to ‘protect the population.’ The Georgian Ministry of the Interior does not possess any information about such a plan but does not exclude it. Not only Georgian analysts are making these sort of claims: for instance the Director of the Foreign Relations Institute of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ukraine, Grigory Perepelitsa, has said that Moscow has been preparing to take some action against Georgia. He thinks that on the one hand Moscow did not achieve its goals last year and on the other it sees that there is no strict resistance to its pressure from the EU and USA. Therefore Moscow might try to finish off Georgia once and for all.

Perepelitsa goes further. He says the negotiations with Obama did not yield desirable results for the Kremlin. Russia was not given the green light to exercise its influence over Georgia and Ukraine. Therefore Moscow plans to take more acute actions, because it is sure that neither the EU nor USA are prepared to take adequate measures. “This is a very alarming tendency. Russia conducts itself towards the USA and EU from a position of power. The EU wants partnership with Russia, so does not consider its threat. The EU’s concern to treat Russia as an ally and the unwillingness of the USA to plunge into a second Cold War keep Russia’s hands unbound. Russia is sure its policy of force will not be resisted adequately by either the US or EU,” states Perepelitsa.

Well-known Russian dissident and human rights protector Valeria Novodrvorskaia also thinks that not being punished for the August 2008 war has encouraged Russia to consider further aggression. “The world saw how Russia annexed Abkhazia and South Ossetia… but despite this it was not excluded from G8 or subject to an economic blockade and nor did it have severe sanctions imposed on it, despite of the fact that democratic forces inside Russia gave such recommendations to the West,” states Novodvroskaia.

Medvedev-Putin’s Russia is not a country we can conduct a civilized dialogue with. The Kremlin respects only force, and only if it is confronted with adequate force it will give up its aggressive plans. We should not be so naive as to think that the US or EU or NATO will engage itself in direct military confrontation with Russia, but there are a lot of different levers they can use to show Moscow that there are some vulnerabilities in its arrogant position towards the South Caucasus. About one of the many possibilities we have already written: the world has to unanimously oppose holding Olympic Games in Russia, and the reason for this should be clearly put on the table: the military attack on Georgia. There are also numerous economic and other sanctions which can likewise be taken against the aggressor.

We appreciated Vice President Biden saying in Georgia, “America stands with you at this moment and will continue to stand with you.” However the general attitude of the Georgian people towards this statement is expressed in a popular English saying now much repeated by Georgians: “Don’t just stand there, do something!”