Friday, August 29, 2008

Wounded Georgian Soldiers Confirm Heavy US-Israel Involvement In South Ossetia Attacks

Russia Boasts It Can "Annihilate" NATO/US Fleet In Black In "20 Minutes"

From RIA Novosti :
Russia's Black Sea Fleet is capable of destroying NATO's naval strike group currently deployed in the sea within 20 minutes, a former fleet commander said on Friday.

Russia's General Staff said on Tuesday there were 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea - three U.S. warships, the Polish frigate General Pulaski, the German frigate FGS Lubeck, and the Spanish guided missile frigate Admiral Juan de Borbon, as well as four Turkish vessels. Eight more warships are expected to join the group.

"Despite the apparent strength, the NATO naval group in the Black Sea is not battle-worthy," Admiral Eduard Baltin said. "If necessary, a single missile salvo from the Moskva missile cruiser and two or three missile boats would be enough to annihilate the entire group."

"Within 20 minutes the waters would be clear," he said, stressing that despite major reductions, still has a formidable missile arsenal.

However, Baltin said the chances of a military confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Black Sea are negligible.

"We will not strike first, and they do not look like people with suicidal tendencies," he said.

In addition to its flagship, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, Russia's Black Sea Fleet includes at least three destroyers, two guided missile frigates, four guided missile corvettes and six missile boats.

NATO announced its decision to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia after the conclusion of hostilities between Tbilisi and Moscow over breakaway South Ossetia on August 12. Moscow recognized on Tuesday both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgia republic, despite being urged by Western leaders not to do so.

Russia's General Staff later said the alliance's naval deployment in the Black Sea "cannot fail to provoke concern", with unidentified sources in the Russian military saying a surface strike group was being gathered there.

According to Russian military intelligence sources, the NATO warships that have entered the Black Sea are between them carrying over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles

From the London Times :

Major Malkhaz Dumbatze was in a celebratory mood. His 14 Georgian tanks had just taken control of the rebel South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, and he was already looking forward to a trip to Israel to study new battle command systems. The jets flying over the city, where his men were mopping up Ossetian snipers, he took to be Georgian fighters.

Major Dumbatze is still going to Israel, but now it is to have reconstruction surgery on his legs. The aircraft he had spotted were in fact Russian, and one of them dropped two bombs on his armoured unit.

Speaking with difficulty because half his teeth had been blown out by shrapnel that exited through his throat, the battalion commander was undaunted about the future of his crushed army.

“I'm 100 per cent sure we'll recover from this,” he said, his wounded comrades on either side of his bed in a Tbilisi hospital.

Georgia's soldiers, trained by US and Israeli advisers, are gung-ho about returning to the fray, though some unanswered questions still hang in the air - such as the advisability of taking on their giant neighbour without adequate anti-air defences.

Major Dumbatze, 33, denied any knowledge of atrocities committed in Georgia's initial assault on Tskhinvali. His men were hunting down remaining militiamen and had left their armour in the open only because they thought they had won, bringing 17 years of secession to an end. “It was a dream for all Georgian soldiers,” he said. “I didn't expect the Russians. I thought it was politically sealed, the Russian and Georgian Governments made some kind of agreement.”

There was no deal, as he discovered to his cost. As a loyal officer he avoided criticising his Government during the crisis, but admitted that “if you thought the Russians would attack, you'd have to be mad” to launch such an operation. “But we never expected them to attack - if you see the bear coming, you either get under a rock or out of the way.”

Corporal Tristani Chinditze, 20, never even made it as far as the battlefield. His unit was on its way to the front line in lorries and Jeeps when they were ambushed by a much larger Russian force of tanks and infantry.

“Maybe without their planes we could have won. That's why I went - I thought we could win,” he said, just before doctors wheeled him out for an operation to save his legs. Both limbs were shredded by shrapnel from a tank shell. “There were three brigades, plenty of them were wounded. We were in trucks and we had no chance to open fire.”

He lay wounded on the battlefield for two days, surrounded by the dead bodies of his comrades. “Other injured soldiers could crawl and help themselves, but I couldn't move. I'm surprised I survived.” Eventually Georgian civilians came and took him to hospital, where he remains.

Sergeant Paata Veshaguri, 24, a stocky man who was admitted to hospital for concussion before returning to the front, was also upbeat about his army's performance against the numerically superior Russians. “We were smaller but better trained,” he said, praising his US and Israeli military teachers. “We not only held our lines but advanced. But the Government was thinking of how the Russians had threatened to bomb Tbilisi.” It ordered his men to pull back.

He said that he had not expected any Western countries to give Georgia military support, but suspected that the Government may have been counting on such aid. “Probably on a high level they expected this, because of all the training and equipment and foreign investment,” he said.

All the soldiers said they were ready to fight again once they had recovered and their forces had been re-equipped. “I will go everywhere for my country, any time and anywhere,” said Major Dumbatze. “If I can walk, I'll do my best for my country.”