Proxy War Between US/Israel And Russia Breaks Out Over South Ossetia
Reports Claim Georgian, Russian Jets Shot Down, Pilots Captured, Georgian Tanks Burning In SO Capital, Israel & American Advisors Guide Georgia Military, Another Caspian Pipeline War Begins
UPDATE : A quick summary of news from the Interfax news agency, 8pm Sydney time :
* 1600 are now believed to have been killed in the South Ossetia capital under a missile barrage by Georgia, purposely targeting civilians.
* 50 Georgian soldiers have been killed in South Ossetia, more than 400 wounded.
* Georgian soldiers are now surrendering in the SO capital Tskhinvali
* Martial law is expected to be enacted in Georgia.
* Russia claims it is not waging war on Georgia, but a "peacekeeping mission."
* South Ossetia forces claim to have shot down two Georgian jet fighters.
* Georgia claims it has shot down 10 Russian jets, and is interrogating a captured pilot.
* 15 Russian peacekeeping troops are believed to have been killed in the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali.
Georgia is pulling more than 2000 troops out of Iraq, and Russian is mobilising thousands of Cossacks as full-blown war looks set to erupt between Russia and the Georgian dictatorship over the breakaway territory of South Ossetia.
Georgian military, backed by Israeli and American trainers and advisors, reportedly killed more than 1400 people in devastating attacks on the capital city of South Ossetia. Russia is now said to be blowing Georgian planes out of the sky and massing on its border.
Georgia has been intensely stockpiling weapons, tanks, helicopters from the Ukraine and the West for the past two years. American and Israel advisors have been training Georgian troops for months, while Russia warned Georgia, and the US, to leave the breakaway territory of South Ossetia alone. Georgia still regards South Ossetia as territory of Georgia, if only because it aims to increase control over the gas pipelines running through the region. Israel and the United States are deeply involved in the conflict, and are fully backing the brutal Georgian dictatorship.
On August 6, the worst fighting in more than four years erupted between Georgia and South Ossetia. The leaders agreed to talks, which quickly broke down.
On August 7, Georgian military (still aided by US and Israel trainers and advisors) began shelling villages across the border in South Ossetia. South Ossetia claimed to have killed at least two dozen Georgian military, though the Georgian dictatorship refused to confirm or deny the numbers.
On August 8, Georgian jet fighters began bombing villages in South Ossetia. The SO president, Eduard Kokoity claimed more than 1400 people were killed in the attacks :
Tensions over Georgia's rebel territory of South Ossetia exploded on Friday when Georgia tried to assert control over the region with tanks and rockets, and Russia sent forces to repel the assault.
On Friday, the United States called on Russia to halt aircraft and missile attacks in South Ossetia.
"The United States calls for an immediate ceasefire to the armed conflict in Georgia's region of South Ossetia," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement. "We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia's territorial integrity, and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil."
Fight between Georgian forces and Russian-backed separatists raged in and around Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, after Tbilisi sent troops to take back the territory, which broke away in the 1990s.
A senior Georgian security official said Russian jets had bombed the Vaziani military airbase outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and President Mikheil Saakashvili said 150 Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia from neighboring Russia. He also said Georgian forces had downed two Russian jets.
From DEBKA :
Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, Aug. 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin threatened a “military response.”
Former Soviet Georgia called up its military reserves after Russian warplanes bombed its new positions in the renegade province.
In Moscow’s first response to the fall of Tskhinvali, president Dimitry Medvedev ordered the Russian army to prepare for a national emergency after calling the UN Security Council into emergency session early Friday.
Reinforcements were rushed to the Russian “peacekeeping force” present in the region to support the separatists.
Georgian tanks entered the capital after heavy overnight heavy aerial strikes, in which dozens of people were killed.
...the Russians are backing the separatists of S. Ossetia and neighboring Abkhazia as payback for the strengthening of American influence in tiny Georgia and its 4.5 million inhabitants. However, more immediately, the conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region.
The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.
Jerusalem owns a strong interest in 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.
Last year, the Georgian president 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 offer 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.
In recent weeks, 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.”
Back and forth accusations of ethnic cleansing by Georgia and Russia dominated heated talks at the United Nations Security Council emergency meetings :
Russia and Georgia accused each other of "ethnic cleansing" as the UN Security Council met in two tense emergency sessions Friday to head off all-out war between Russia, Georgia and the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia.
The last-ditch negotiations came just 12 hours apart in response to Georgian troops launching a major military offensive to regain control of separatist South Ossetia. The first meeting lasted three hours, ending at 2 a.m. Friday in New York, and the second session broke off in a stalemate Friday night.
Just hours after Russia called that first meeting and failed to win backing for its proposed council statement that Georgia and South Ossetia should "renounce the use of force," Russian tanks rumbled into Georgia in a furious response.
..."there are reports about ethnic cleansing in villages of South Ossetia. The population is panicking, and the number of refugees is increasing... a humanitarian catastrophe is in the offing. And here Tbilisi is using the tactic of scorched earth."
Russia dispatched an armored column into South Ossetia on Friday after Georgia, a staunch US ally, launched a surprise offensive to crush separatists. Witnesses said hundreds of civilians were killed.
The fighting, which devastated the capital of Tskhinvali, threatened to ignite a wider war between Georgia and Russia, and escalate tensions between Moscow and Washington. Georgia said it was forced to launch the assault because of rebel attacks; the separatists alleged Georgia violated a cease-fire.
The fighting broke out as much of the world's attention was focused on the start of the Olympic Games and many leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and US President George W. Bush, were in Beijing.
The timing suggested Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may have been counting on surprise to fulfill his longtime pledge to wrest back control of South Ossetia - a key to his hold on power. The rebels seek to unite with North Ossetia, which is part of Russia.
Georgia, which borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the breakup of the Soviet Union. Georgia has angered Russia by seeking NATO membership - a bid Moscow regards as part of a Western effort to weaken its influence in the region.
A timeline from the UK Telegraph :
November 1989 - South Ossetia declares its autonomy from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, triggering three months of fighting.
December 1990 - Georgia and South Ossetia begin a new armed conflict which lasts until 1992.
June 1992 - Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian leaders meet in Sochi, sign an armistice and agree the creation of a tripartite peacekeeping force of 500 soldiers from each entity.
November 1993 - South Ossetia drafts its own constitution.
November 1996 - South Ossetia elects its first president.
December 2000 - Russia and Georgia sign an intergovernment agreement to re-establish the economy in the conflict zone.
December 2001 - South Ossetia elects Eduard Kokoity as president, in 2002 he asks Moscow to recognise the republic's independence and absorb it into Russia.
January 2005 - Russia gives guarded approval to Georgia's plan to grant broad autonomy to South Ossetia in exchange for dropping its bid for independence.
November 2006 - South Ossetia overwhelmingly endorses its split with Tbilisi in a referendum. Georgia's prime minister says this is part of a Russian campaign to stoke a war.
April 2007 - Georgia's parliament approves a law to create a temporary administration in South Ossetia, raising tension with Russia.
June 2007 - South Ossetian separatists say Georgia attacked Tskhinvali with mortar and sniper fire. Tbilisi denies this.
October 2007 - Talks hosted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe between Georgia and South Ossetia break down.
March 2008 - South Ossetia asks the world to recognise its independence from Georgia, following the West's support for Kosovo's secession from Serbia.
March 2008 - Georgia's bid to join NATO, though unsuccessful, prompts Russia's parliament to urge the Kremlin to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
April 2008 - South Ossetia rejects a Georgian power-sharing deal, insists on full independence.August 2008 - Fighting breaks out between Georgian and separatist South Ossetian forces. Georgia says its forces have "freed" the greater part of the Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
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