Georgia Conflict - Open Thread #3

Russia has accomplished its goals. President Medvedev announced that Russia is ending its military operations, but he did not announce that the troops are pulling out. It is expected that some fighting will continue until "binding agreement of non-use of force" is signed. Below the line are a few links to articles.

Russia Halts Attack on Georgia

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Tuesday that Russia is ending its current military operation against Georgian forces because it has achieved its goals. But Mr. Medvedev, speaking on state television, stopped short of saying Russia would withdraw its troops from Georgia.

"The goals of the operation have been achieved," Mr. Medvedev said. "The safety of our peacekeepers and the civilian population have been restored."

But Mr. Medvedev also said that Russia still reserves the right to renew attacks if it encounters Georgian resistance or fighting. He said a full settlement of the military conflict with Georgia was subject to two conditions. "First, Georgian troops should return to their initial position and be partly demilitarized," he said." Second, we need to sign a binding agreement on non-use of force."

Russia Orders Halt in Georgia as Fighting Continues

In a meeting with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov shown on Russian television, Mr. Medvedev said: “The goal of the operation has been achieved. The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been ensured.” But he also told Mr. Serdyukov to “eliminate” any enemy remaining in South Ossetia.

“Whenever hotbeds of resistance and other aggressive plans emerge, make the decision and eliminate them,” he said.

Georgia: Europe fears for oil supply as clash threatens pipeline

BP said that all oil exports bound for the West via Georgia had been suspended as supplies that had initially been diverted to another pipeline, Baku-Supsa, for export by sea could not be collected because of the security situation. They were being held in storage at Supsa, a Georgian port terminal on the Black Sea.

The head of Azerbaijan’s state oil company said that oil exports had also been halted via the Georgian ports of Batumi and Kulevi because of the fighting. Georgian officials earlier said that Russian aircraft had attacked an oil terminal at the port of Poti.

The temporary closure of the pipeline forced a cut in production of the high-quality-grade Azeri light crude by about 450,000 barrels per day.

INSTANT VIEW 4-Russian president orders stop to Georgia ops

MICHAL THIM, ANALYST, ASSOCIATION FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, PRAGUE: "We have to wait and see if this is implemented.

"Russia militarily and politically achieved what it wanted. In all that time, apart from some verbal criticism, it has not met any sharp or fundamental reaction from the United States nor Europe.

"The EU council of ministers is only meeting tomorrow and it was Russia's interest to put them in front of a final state of affairs which they seem to have achieved.

"It would be tactically disadvantageous for Russia to continue in its actions during that meeting given that they had achieved what they wanted.

The above article gives quotes from a number of different analysts.

War in Georgia, Politics in D.C.

But if the stakes are high, you wouldn't know it from Washington's early reaction. The administration of George W. Bush has been slow to respond, with the President making cautious statements of condemnation over the weekend at the Olympic games in Beijing, and Condoleezza Rice remaining on vacation and oddly absent from public view. Meanwhile, the presidential campaigns have seen the crisis largely through a political lens, as eager to gain an edge in the race for the White House as they are to seek solutions.

Map of Yesterday's Conflict

Previous threads:

Open Thread Two

Open Thread One

August 8 Drumbeat Thread

It'll be hard for any peace settlement. I think this war will be exploited for it's distraction value. If JH Kunstler's post (yesterday) is accurate about some economic indicators, we'll need all the distraction we can get.

(Personally, after following JHK's "Clusterf*** Nation" for over three years I may not agree with the details of many of his predictions nor his scenarios, but I do believe that he sure does do his homework on things that are down the road.)

Some of JHK's short term prognostication seems ideologically driven (by his dislike of suburbia, pop-culture, Wall St. bankers, etc.) and that causes him to stick his neck out more than he should, at times.

However -- and I don't think I'm overstating this -- his ability to see the big picture is uncanny. He "gets it" in a way that most other cultural observers, politicians, business leaders, etc. either fail to or refuse to get it. He is showing himself to be one of the most influential thinkers in this young 21st century. An ex-Rolling Stone editor. Who'd have thunk it?

I can't agree even though I enjoy reading JHK. Politicians and business leaders rarely (almost never) say what they think. JHK has the luxury of honesty because he hasn't been purchased-what he is saying is obvious to a great many persons who would never admit it.

I think what he dislikes are willful ignorance (as represented by the manifold distractions of pop culture) and blithe optimism (Wall St.)

The US has zero idea what we just lost here.

#1 The BTC pipeline.

"Let the people of the world judge events based on this true version of events, not the nonsense being reported in a biased and unfree western press. The fact of the matter is that Moscow is right and has done everything it possibly could to avoid conflict. The ones who started it were the Georgians, who now go whining to NATO.

NATO would do very well to remain silent and mind its own business, specially after lying about its expansion eastwards. Moscow is not afraid of NATO and has the capacity to neutralise any military situation to its advantage. However, it is not Moscow that is spoiling for a fight.



mcgowanmc: I concure with your astute observations.
War and conflict have taken a more exaggerated turn
towards protection from real or perceived affronts to
a region or political entities security and access to
resources...(READ "OIL").
I greatly fear that what has been often discussed here on TOD as a result of the insertion of P.O. into
the matrix of world governments attempts to form allies and alliances and all the complexities invovled, will lead to chaos unimaginable only in
hindsight will a semblence of truth be found and even
with 20/20 perspective of will be open
for debate.
"The future ain't what it used to be"


DJIA up 300 pts with the attack.

DJIA down 76 pts with the rout.

"The Endowment for Democracy purchased Georgia as a US colony. The affront to Russia was extreme, but at the time Russia was weak. Oligarchs with outside money had grabbed control over Russian resources, and Russia was in dire straits and could not resist American imperialism.

Putin corrected the situation for Russia."

Paul Craig Roberts

Worse than a mistake, it's stupid

DJIA up 300 pts with the attack

DJIA down 76 pts with the rout

I find it even more telling the market was up "long"
the weekend when this all started on Friday the 8th.
And even more telling that oil is still dropping.
The juxtapostion of up 300 points on war and down
now 61.58 on rumors of a cease of hostilities,leads
one to believe the fat lady isnt gonna sing just yet.

(No fat opera ladies were harmed in this dramatization)

The fact of the matter is that Moscow is right and has done everything it possibly could to avoid conflict. The ones who started it were the Georgians, who now go whining to NATO.

I don't think you could ever consider invading another country and killing thousands of citizens "right", but it is highly likely Moscow did what it thought would best protect Moscow interests. There is alot of realpolitik in play that Bush has no fucking clue how to spell, let alone understand and participate in.

I think this article is probably a more accurate reasoning of what's happening. Russia wants back what it lost and will try everything in its power to regain it. Meanwhile, our clown of a president has ignored one of the most powerful nations on earth to focus on a bunch of rabble rousing criminals (al Quaeda) and the leader of a neutralized nation (Iraq). I think losing Georgia will be a disaster for the west from an energy perspective, but its our government's own fault.

I think I'm closer to your position than to most others here.

The American people have not been educated to understand that great powers normally have spheres of influence, and their extension can be construed as an act of war. We are taught to see all our conflicts as crusades of good against evil, which puts all rival powers in the Axis of Evil with no right to a sphere of influence. More alarmingly, it makes America's sphere of influence "Good" incarnate, and thus we are glad that our leaders aspire to make it worldwide, which it should never be.

We have a plausibly deniable sphere of influence, that manifests whenever we want to take credit for the accomplishments of a South Korea, but dissolves into "national self-determination" whenever we want to look the other way at genocide in Guatemala or the Israeli nuclear program.

Troops in 150 countries. Why is this not an issue in the presidential campaign? Because we know it's suicide to criticize it as long as American-occupied means "Good" in the voters' eyes.

Greg: Your position re Iraq is both popular and curious. The clown stumbles around yet manages to secure Iraq oil access for multinationals, something they wanted yet could not acheive for decades. Fortunes have been and will be made off Iraq, yet the whole thing is a huge example of incompetence. IYO which objective re Iraq was not reached? It appears to have worked out pretty well for the orchestrators and the connected.

Things are working now, but what happens if a person with a more nationalistic side (and nationalizing tendencies) becomes Prime Minister? The current friendly regime wants US troops to put out on a timetable ... a less friendly regime might want the oil comapnies to pull out.

Yes, but this whole thing would not be easy for anyone to pull off, clown or master strategist/genius. I just find the myth of the clown worrying about the evildoer Hussein to be a joke. It is amazing that in 2008 people still focus on what politicians say and not what they do.

Exactly. Everyone seems to know and recognize that politicians lie, but for some reason people accept their *stated* goals as their *actual* goals (and their *stated* beliefs as their *actual* beliefs.) Doesn't make much sense.

You even see this in MSM reporting. For example, the BBC will write an article about Iran and say that the US is opposing them because "the US believes Iran is making nuclear weapons" instead of the far more accurate "the US claims to believe that Iran is making nuclear weapons."

Once again, Regime Change in Iraq was stated US policy during Clinton/Gore and was brought to fruition under BushCo with the approval of Pelosi LLC. Regime Change in Iran was/is stated US policy since 1980. The Anti-Communist Crusade known as the Cold War was/is stated US policy toward Russia, and said policy continues despite Russia no longer being communist. US Imperial expansion was/is stated US policy since 1947-48, and achieving "global dominance" (and other similar phrasings) is currently stated US policy. All the above are bi-partisan policies and are fully promoted by the Propaganda and Indoctrination Systems--truths more people are becoming aware of, but the minority of those in the know is frightfully small.

I think one of the lessons Russia's leaders will learn is that Russia's future does NOT lie in "looking west" a la Peter the Great and a longstantding ideological battle within Russia for centuries. Europe needs Russia far more than Russia needs Europe. More interesting is the fact that Russia doesn't need the USA, but the USA needs Russia--hydrocarbons and other fundamental resources to be rapidly extracted and sold on the global market, which will serve to keep the prices of such cheaper than otherwise.

"the US claims to believe that Iran is making nuclear weapons."

Considering that US intelligence agencies do not think Iran is making nuclear weapons (NIE last year), even that is really not true. Perhaps something like "some extremists in the US who think they know better than their intelligence agencies claim to believe Iran might be making nuclear weapons..."

Hi Tim,

"The fact of the matter is that Moscow is right and has done everything it possibly could to avoid conflict. The ones who started it were the Georgians, who now go whining to NATO."

On the Russian side, this was a substantial operation, at the level of two divisions. There were two axes of advance, one through difficult territory, with naval support, and coordinated cyber attacks. This looks like months of planning, and it makes it difficult to argue that the Georgians "started it." In this context, the Russian practice of giving Russian passports to violent separatists who live in another country is highly provocative, because of the likelihood of deaths of these bogus citizens being used as a pretext for an attack, as it was. Because of this, we should be cautious about accepting Russian casualty reports among Russian citizens from Georgian action unless confirmed by another source.

It is natural at The Oil Drum to focus on the the Georgian pipeline. And in the long run, Georgia may be better off without the Ossetians and Abkhazis. However,the bigger issue, which the leaders of the Baltic countries, Poland, and the Ukraine see most clearly, is that there are other countries with Russian minorities, and these could serve as a pretext,also. In particular, what is the future of the Crimea, which is part of the Ukraine, but is still the base, for now, for the Russian Black Sea Fleet?


In particular, what is the future of the Crimea, which is part of the Ukraine, but is still the base, for now, for the Russian Black Sea Fleet?

My perspective - Crimea will become part of Russia in the next 50 years. Ukraine proper will be split in two; western part - Ukraine, eastern part - Malorossia. They'll hate each other and Russia will get everything it wants mediating them.

Denying historical tendencies is like denying Peak Oil - they'll hit you anyway.

I agree. Only the western region of Ukraine is Ukranian. The Crimea and the line east of Kiev-Odessa is Russian. There is also the Kishinev region in Moldova. The Baltic states have nothing to fear as their initial nationalist snubbing of Russians and things Russian has played its course and a lot of Russians have already returned to Russia. Belarus was always an oddity as an independent state as there has never really been any Belarusian nationalist entity, and Minsk is as Russian a city as Moscow or St. Petersburg. The five Central Asian states have been Russian in essence ever since Russia first gained control over the region in one of the most non-violent acquisitions of territory ever made by an Empire to my knowledge. For them, the geographic pull of Moscow is natural and strong. So, when I look at this map, I see perhaps six still independent states of the former USSR in the year 2100: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Western Ukraine (which will absorb the part of Moldova that doesn't rejoin Russia), Azerbaijan, and perhaps Georgia.

I agree. Only the western region of Ukraine is Ukranian. The Crimea and the line east of Kiev-Odessa is Russian.

Dividing the world along ethnic lines would produce... interesting results. For example,

Link for map? Please.

All of Europe was divided along ethnic lines; Russia is no different. The dynamics of ethnicity in the former USSR/Russian Empire has always presented complex problems, and they became a focus of my studies of the USSR/Russia in the early 1990s. The region of conflict, the Caucasus, is a trove for linguists and ethnographers despite the movement of many ethno-national groups from the region. It's not my ideal to divide the world along ethnic lines; it seems to be a lower function of human nature that seeks to do so. Most people on the planet are mutts, but are loathe to admit it for a wide variety of reasons. Conversly, I proclaim my muttness as use it as a talking point. That most humans seem to favor division along ethnic lines is enough proof for me that humanity is far from civilized. It may well be that humanity and civilized are opposites that will never share the same side of the same coin.

The geographic and demographic pull of China may be stronger for the central Asian nations.

What will the population of Russia be in 2100 ? 80 million ?


Hi Alan--This map does an adequate job of showing why Central Asians are mosr likely to be drawn to Moscow than Beijing. The Tien Shan is a formidible mountain range and creates the rain shadow for the growing Takla Makan Desert. Both provide a formidible barrier to commerce and communication.

This pdf map shows Russia's birth rate for 1999, and given the resurgent economy, sane farming policy and vast resource base, I would expect Russia's population to be closer to 200 million by 2100, perhaps more if as I expect Chinese immigration becomes strong.

This last map shows the distribution of major ethnic groups in Central Asia. Note that only in eastern Khazakstan is there any significant overlap with China.

Yet China is actively building railroads connecting itself to Central Asia.

Standard gauge through Kazakhstan towards the EU (one branch south through Turkmenistan & Iran, the other north through Russia & Ukraine( under construction.

Change of gauge through Kyrgyz Republic (I believe, could be Tajikistan) being considered AFAIK.

And apparently firm plans from NW China through Tajikistan, NE panhandle of Afghanistan (very large copper deposit) and into Pakistan.

Iran is building into Afghanistan and plans to continue near northern border to Tajikistan. I wonder if a Central Asian Moslem Confederation might not develop ? Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran; all balancing between Russia & China. Certainly more in common with each other than Russia or China.

Demographics, <<1% of those now living will be alive in 2100. Most of those alive then will be grandchildren or more from those alive today.

So plenty of time to work out trends. Below replacement today,. 1.8 children/woman > 90% generational replacement. 0.9^3 > 73% after 3 generations. Hard to see much of an increase in population above today. "The cake is baked" for the next generation and massive changes will be required to reach 200 million by 2010.

It could happen, but I am doubtful, and I am unlikely to ever see it.

Best Hopes,


At some point in the chain of events the question "who started it" gets meaningless. Russia has been maintaining large army troops in the Caucasus for years, so their prompt response is hardly a surprise - they must have planned for such an event long time ago. It may also be argued that Georgia started it first with its long-standing anti-russian and pro-western policies and aspirations towards NATO.

In the end it is just a chess game for influence for TPTB. Looking from this perspective it can't be denied that in the grand schema of things the decision of the Georgian president to attack S.Osetia (and Russia by extension) would be viewed as a grave mistake, bordering utter stupidity IMO.


There has been tensions in this region since 1991. Russia obviously analyzed all possible scenarios and planned accordingly. So they were ready, anything less would have been foolish. Yes Georgia started the war but Russia was ready - as any competent military should be - to pounce on the opportunity. They pounced like an 800 pound grizzly and sent the US trained and equiped army into a disorderly retreat. This was a great embarassment for the Pentagon.

The future of the Crimea is clear. It will return to Russia where the people of the Crimea want to be. Baltics and the Poland have nothing to fear unless they continue antagonizing Russia with Missile shields.
The baltics practice modern day aparthied hounding Russian people wiht their Language police - no joke- they go to your place of employment and if you don't speak Latvian or Estonian properly you lose your job and your employer is fined. People of Russian Heritage born in Latvia are not granted citizenship until they pass a test. Yet these states are admitted to EU and Nato, making a complete mockery of the EU claiming to consist of free democracies. However Russia has no interest in these states as they are banana republics with rapidly collapsing economies(I have lost a fortune recently in Latvia) Russia is offering large cash bonuses for ethnic Russians to immigrate which is picking up speed. If their is anything else you would like to know about this part of the world let me know, I lived their for quite a while and still travel their. Russia is a great country and the people are simply amazing. Russia and USA should be best friends but US foreign policy is beholden to special interests which lobby for baltics, Ukraine and Poland about historical grievances with Russia.


Here's wacky idea.

Why don't Russians....move back to Mother Russia--IT IS A GREAT COUNTRY!.. WITH AMAZING PEOPLE!

Or perhaps Russia is too small?

Let the Chechens, Tartars,(North Ossetians?), etc. have their OWN countries and maybe even their own opinions!

(BTW, can Russians posters PLEASE identify themselves? No need to be shy.)

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your comments. I am sure that the events in Georgia will reassure the Baltic states that "they have nothing to fear," particularly with respect to issues related to the Russian minorities that were imposed on them during the Soviet occupation. I did visit Estonia with Finnish friends, and my impression was that Estonia is on track to become a smaller version of Finland. The per-capita GDP 50% larger than Russia's (closer to 2:1 if you do not count Russia's oil, gas, and coal income). These are the 2007 purchasing power parity numbers from the CIA's online factbook. Estonian exports consist almost entirely of manufactured products. I think the "banana republic" label is a better fit for Russia, considering its exports and air of thuggery.

It will become clearer over time whether the invasion of Georgia is a quick reaction by the Russians, or a previously planned campaign. "Quick" is not an adjective that has often been used for the Russian military. And the comments of the Humans Rights Watch representatives

are completely at odds with the line of 1,500 (sometimes 2,000) civilans killed in Tskhinvaliy. Based on the information we have so far, I would vote for it being a planned invasion, complete with manufactured provocations and disinformation campaign. What is indisputible is that the episode evokes painful memories of the Soviet invasions of Eastern European countries and the barbarism that followed, particularly in the Baltics.



The atrocities went both ways and the Latvians and Estonians were guilty of genocide on Jewish people, they were enthusiastic members of the SS. Pre-war Latvia had a large Jewish population and there are virtually none, they were gunned down by Latvians outside the capital Riga in a forest. Ironically the person who ordered the deportation of Latvians and Estonians was an ethnic Georgian - Stalin.

Ethnic Russians have always lived in Estonia and Latvia. Pre-war they were about 20-25% of the population. The number is now about 33% in Latvia because the Soviet Union sent people to work in the factories. Estonia is a country of 1.2 million and therefore relatively easy to reorient to market status and achieve quick results. Russia on the other hand is a titanic so it therefore took a long time and a strong hand(Putin) to turn it around. So on average Estonian and Latvian people have lived better than Russian people for last 16 years, until recently. Latvia's currency is about to be devalued and Estonias could also be. They adopted the American model of consumer driven economy and are running massive current account defecits. However unlike USA no one is interested in buying Latvian treasuries. They have to pay the borrowed money back! The situation in both economies is grim to say the least, the economy in Latvia has almost ground to a halt. If you took time to talk to some ethnic Latvians or Estonians you would find while they are elated to be free of Soviet Union a strong percent are no fan of capitalist model and actually prefer the security and stability(if consumer good impaired)of communism.

Estonia's GDP is 21,800, Latvia is 12000 and Russia's is 15,000 per capita. I would expect that to equalize this year or next as Russia's GDP in USD has been growing at 30% per year and I expect a slight fall in Estonias GDP. Latvia is just totally screwed( Russia's oil and gas sector is only 10% of GDP but I believe 75% of exports. Russia has no debt, 500 billion in reserves and a rapidly growing, IT, finance, telecom and construction sectors. They also have surpassed USA as the biggest arms exporter(8.5 billion this year)

Of course it was a planned invasion - if the Georgians were foolish enough to attack. As has become obvious today the Russians are destroying all offensive capabilities of the Georgians, which are obviously in Georgia proper.

I like and understand the Latvians and Estonians but I can't condone their treatment of ethnic Russians I could go into this extensively but you can read about it in EU human rights reports, they have strongly condemned Latvia and Estonia but still admitted them to EU on USA prodding. I will give you 1 more outrageous example though - in Estonia EU citizens(Germans, Irish etc.) can vote in local elections but ethnic Russians born in Estonia can not. EU has condemned it but does nothing. Is this the way to have friendly relations with Moscow?

Hello, i am an Estonian living in Tallinn. What the HELL are you on about ?? Our economy, compared to global, is doing quite fine. Just so you know, I work together in a company with lots and lots of ethnic russians, all young bright people, and not one of them has ever seen or heard anything about human rights violations, they go vote in both local and state elections and generally very much like to live where they are. They were mostly quite embarrassed around the events of Bronze Soldier and wanted nothing to do with any of this.
Would you care to elaborate where you get your data ?

DParkins claims to have been reading TOD for a couple of years, but joined 4 days ago. He claims to be an American, but he does not sound like one. He is certainly in love with authoritarianism, Putin style, and quotes virtually all of the Russian nationalist lines and nothing at all that sounds "American".

I strongly suspect a Russian agent/volunteer working to control the international reaction to their aggression in Georgia. Very good English but ...



your killing me! FSB agent! I joined about 6 months ago under dparkins3(please ask a moderator). Never posted because I am a biochemist and therefore out of my league here with respect to Geology or Petroleum engineering. I was born in Philadelphia in the early 70's and attended the Pennsylvania State University. I am a rabid Eagles and PSU football fan. I have read hundreds if not thousands of your posts and I look for you along with Westexas, rockman, gail and a few others. I am now a semi-expert on PO thanks to hundres of hours on this site. I lived in Russia(and Baltics) for several years and therefore I know the real situation in Russia. If there was a concerted effort by Russian agents to spread propoganda I would know. I spend a good bit of time on Russian language forums.
"aggression in Georgia" - I have to disagree. I believe entering Georgia proper was entirely justified. It makes sense for Russia to destroy their arsenal, this neutralizes the threat of any future offensive. I believe it is better to endure headlines of "invasion" than to expose your troops to future attacks.

It is interesting that the majority of comments on the English media websites are pro-Russia, in spite of the fact that the articles in general are rabid anti-Russian.

Very good english for a non-native speaker! I am insulted!


Hansabank(The biggest lender in the baltics) Estonia CEO: devaluation would bankrupt Estonian economy

Alan&Kert, quite simply Estonia and Latvia are toast. The inflation in Latvia is now 18% and the economy is crumbling. I say this with a lot of regret as I own property there and simply can't sell it. The banks are not lending. Estonia is in better shape than Latvia though.

From BBC regarding Bronze Soldier:

And for local ethnic Russians it is one insult too many, the BBC's Richard Galpin says, after what they feel has been years of discrimination against them by the majority Estonian population.

Kert's claim that many were embarassed belies the 3 days of riots seen on television.

Voting rights:

Alvaro Gil-Robles European Council Commissioner for Human Rights are to be taken more serious. During his visit to Riga October 2003 the high commissioner criticized the lack of citizenship for more than 20% of Latvias population and recommended the granting of voting rights to non-citizens in municipal elections"

My bad its Latvia. But unfortunately Estonia is not much better:

Ny times:

There is a note of pain in Lyudmila Vedina's voice as she recalls those days, a few years ago, when she and her Russian friends in this ancient university town were ardent supporters of the struggle for Estonian independence.

"We rushed to read every paper," said Mrs. Vedina, a philologist, who has spent half her life in Tartu and has brought up her children here. "We signed all the petitions, we took part in everything, we let nothing go by. We were so proud of Estonia."

Estonia regained its freedom a year ago, but for people like Mrs. Vedina, it has been a bitter disappointment.

By nationality she is a member of the Finno-Ugric ethnic group, which includes Estonians, though her parents moved here from Russia after World War II, and she is fluent in Estonian but her mother tongue is Russian.

But because neither she nor her parents were registered residents in Estonia in 1938, she is now suddenly stateless, at least for another year. She can not vote in Estonia's coming elections, she can not own property, and by year's end, she may be barred from her state job. 40 Percent 'Non-Citizens'

Ny times:

According to the Estonian Statistical Office[citation needed], ethnic Russians comprised 25.7% of the population in 2006. Of that 25.7%, approximately 27% hold Russian citizenship, 35% hold Estonian citizenship, and 35% continue to have undefined citizenship.

Under Estonian law, residents without citizenship may not vote in elections of Riigikogu (the national parliament) or European Parliament elections, but are eligible to vote in local (municipal) elections(Under pressure they recently allowd non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. Conveniently Kert forgot to mention that.).

However, Amnesty International has claimed that Russian-speaking linguistic minority living in Estonia often find themselves de facto excluded from the labour market and educational system. The report expressed the view that the current policies fail to constitute a coherent framework within which these rights can be guaranteed for such persons. Amnesty International cites as evidence the high unemployment rate — 12.9% in 2005 — among people belonging to Russian-speaking linguistic minority, in contrast to only 5.3% among ethnic Estonians during the same period.[13] On the other hand, ethnic Estonians without good command of Russian and English language also have limited job opportunities.[citation needed]

The think-tank Development and Transition, which is sponsored by the United Nations, has argued that Latvia and Estonia employ a "sophisticated and extensive policy regime of discrimination" against their respective Russophone parts of the population. [4]

I believe I answered all of Kert's accusations, I did confuse Latvia with Estonia on 1 point again my bad. If you would like to read about
Krasnodar(big city on Black sea) from the perspective of an American Living there please see I will answer your response from yesterday in a few days if I can still find the thread, I have a wedding to attend tommorow in Philadelphia and this is occupying my free time. If I can't find that thread I'll post it to 1 of your comments.


IMO by far the best analysis of the Georgia conflict is to be found at 'The Exiled':

War Nerd: South Ossetia, The War of My Dreams
By Gary Brecher

Quote from your article:

"The Georgians have always been fierce people, good fighters, not the forgiving type."

The fierce people must be in Abhkazia, S Osetia or Batumi.

Georgian army flees in disarray as Russians advance

"Look Dear, we've got electricity, gas, and running water now.

The Russians must be back in power."

A better evaluation,with a more nuanced eye is available at "ClubOrlov" someone well familiar to the doomers here

Yes Snuffy, I would HIGHLY recommend it. A VERY unique perspective.

Anyone who reads the below link will learn something they didn't know about it.

Dmitry Orlov: Comment on the Situation in Georgia

I love his analogy to East-LA


States and nations are not the same thing. States are political artifacts, functional through mutual agreements; nations are natural units of cohesion based on common language and culture. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were once within the state of Georgia, but not in the nation of Georgia.

Putin is playing straight out of NATO's Kosovo playbook: protect an ethnic enclave (nation) trying to become independent of a larger state, Serbia, composed primarily of a nation of different language and culture. State borders get created which once had meaning but are retained beyond their point of usefulness. Humans are a highly mobile species; nations are constantly on the move.

I have no love for Serbian leaders. We lost 11 extended family members killed by Serbians during the Battle for Vukovar in the last Balkan War. My mother's village, Bogdanovci, was totally leveled by Serbian artillery. However, NATO did bomb Serbia in order to keep it from interfering in Kosovo, a legal component part of the state of Serbia.

Saakashvili is an intemperate, arrogant man with poor judgement, just like our own President Bush, and now the Georgian people are suffering the consequences of his actions. The Russians are operating off their own borders, unlike Americans who attack sovereign countries half a world away.

The Russians are operating off their own borders...


Thank you for making this point again. It cannot be repeated enough in this situation. There are a lot of people who would be screaming for blood if similar hijinks were underway on the US-Mexican or US-Canadian borders.

>>''Saakashvili is an intemperate, arrogant man with poor judgement''<<

Sounds like he could have gone to Harvard...

What is clear to me is:

Putin has made a fool out of Saakashvili, Bush, NATO, US and UK and NATO Military intel and warned off any others with ethnic Russians in the 'near abroad' states to watch their step.

Not a bad few days work all things considered.

if your not with us your against us

Pretty clear message;

"Russia "perplexed" by Belarus silence on Georgia"

"Moscow could not understand why its western neighbour, nominally a close ally, had failed to offer the Kremlin open support in its conflict with Georgia."

BP shuts Georgia oil, gas pipelines as a precaution;_y...

The closure leaves BP with only Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and Georgia's Black Sea ports of Batumi and Kuleva as the only available export options.

Georgia has asked NATO for military assistance and Georgian president says Russia claim to a ceasefire are lies, plus claims Russian troops are on the move near Abkhazia.

Doesn't sound like anything has stopped does it?

It also seems the West has suddenly found its voice once they believed the Russians had halted. And the US is preparing an economic package for Georgia. I'd imagine the Russians will now say to hell with it and finish the task as the West doesn't seem to have got the message yet.

Some analysts have commented that Russia's claimed ceasefire was a calculated attempt to undermine Western diplomatic moves, particularly Sarkozy's visit to Moscow. I believe I first saw this claim in a Reuters article.

Tues 10 AM C.

CNN/FOX et al decide to cover the conflict.

CNN cut off Medvedev in mid sentence, while letting sarkozy ramble.

Rice in a flurry of diplomatic phone calls.

Had been on vacation.

Russia stopped because all objectives have been achieved.

No need to wonder how the Germans received the Munich Beer Hall
announcement of Stalingrad November 8, 1942.

I concur that the continual shilling that "Georgia = GOOD, Russia = BAD" by the Western MSM is getting irksome. The frightening thing is that it does seem to be reviving some dormant Cold War sentiments and perspectives in the West.

Further antagonism of Russia in its own backyard would be completely foolhardy at this point. I don't even want to contemplate what escalation via NATO intervention might look like.

Rice in a flurry of diplomatic phone calls.

Had been on vacation.

Farcical outtake, perhaps? From a keystone cop movie??

While the US Secretary of State is away on R&R and Bush is hobnobbing on camera -- without the aid of a friendly teleprompter -- Putin is playing cat and mouse.

There is an eerie resemblance to the events of 1914.

After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the German foreign office sent the Kaiser to cruise merrily on the Imperial yacht so as "to have a quieting effect on Europe."

Except, in 2008, the ones stage managing the event are not the holiday goers.

Well it didn't take long for the West to get back to its old habits and rub Russia up the wrong way. As a consequence the Russians have said they may take further measures against Georgia. I imagine the news that the US is feverishly working on an economic aid package for Georgia struck a particularly soar note with Russia (ie. rebuild the US outpost better and stronger for next time).

Russians have ordered the evacuation of the oil facilities at Kulevi.

Poland has said Russia's position bolsters the need for a missile defence shield in Poland. I thought it was to protect us from the Iranians?

For those who think the politics of the Middle East and the Balkans are comlex - welcome to the Caucasus?

The ordinary people, much like the rest of us, are mere pawns in a great game being played by rival major powers, in this case the Russian Federation and the United States. They are playing for the massive energy reserves of the Caspian Basin and eventually the future of Eurasia. The country that controls Eurasia, supposedly, controls the world, at least this is the theory.

However, the United States has a problem in relation to gaining access to and controling Eurasia, it isn't a Eurasian power, so any attempt by the US to intervene in the Eurasian continent, is bound to viewed with scepticism and opposition by the major Eurasian powers. Is there room in Eurasia for the United States and its interests? Who will have to move out of the way?

Seen from a Russia perspective, they are slowly being surrounded by the United States and its allies. Whilst the Russians dismantled the Warsaw Pact and withdrew their forces, Nato has expanded and moved closer and closer to Russia's borders, from the West, the South and the East. Not only do the Russians feel they are being encircled they also believe there is a hidden agenda behind this Western strategy. To weaken Russia and turn it into a vassal state, a third world country, a controlled and impotent failed-state, which would serve as a vast source of cheap raw materials and definitely not a potential rival. Russia must never be allowed to attain the same status a the hated Soviet Union. If necessary Russia must be peeled like an onion into smaller and smaller, and weaker peices.

But given Russia's history and culture, such a strategy from the West was doomed to failure and risked provoking a nationalist and anti-Western crusade to save and revive Russia. Simply put, the Russians are not prepared to see their country turned into a vassal state dominated by a foreign powers. Russian history is full of resistance to such failed attempts.

So the Russians have seen Georgia turned into an agressive and hostile US bridgehead on their southern flank, a potential dagger in their belly. The Russians feel they have been humiliated and pushed around by the West. It turned into a nation in free-fall, disintegrating and heading for economic and social disaster. Clearly no country would calmly choose such a fate for itself without trying to reverse the process. It was touch and go, but cannot deny that Putin and the circle around him, stopped the disintegration of Russia and the dive into total chaos. Not only did they succeed in stabilizing Russia, they began a process of reviving the nation, helped by soaring energy prices and the natural desire not to see ones country weak, powerless and under foreign domination.

What's clear is that many Russians see the current conflict in Georgia as a proxy attack by an army trained, armed and financed by the United States. This interpretation may have serious longterm consequences for the United States and Russia. How will the United States react if Russia re-opens an airbase in Cuba for it's long-range bombers, possibly armed with nuclear warheads? Is this really the road we want to go down?

A very nice concise view of the situation writerman. You're obviously knowledgeable of history and no doubt see the parallel with past conflicts. It's always amazing to see how quickly the general consensus that "it really can't get as bad as some suggest" to "how could we not have expected the worse". I recall an analysis of Russian mentality towards external aggression (real or perceived). The basis was the societal memory of 30 % (?) of its population dying at the hands of the aggressors during WWII. The reports summarized that until you can understand the level of paranoia generated by such events you will always underestimate the power of Russian nationalism. I have worked with Russians. I liked them in general. And I have no difficulty anticipating the worst.

Sounds like "trust but verify" to me!

I have been following the rail links being planned (a map is essential !).

China wants to develop a very large copper deposit in the NE panhandle of Afghanistan with an electrified railroad from NW China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (creating a rail link to the Indian Ocean).

Iran is building a rail line into NW Afghanistan and has "Second phase plans" to extend this on the northern boundary of Afghanistan to Tajikistan. With existing Tajik rail lines, another couple of hundred km would link with Chinese rail line. Terrain may be passable. Not sure. China recently completed rail line to Lhasa, Tibet (another geopolitical rail line) so they have experience with very difficult terrain.

New rail lines under construction: Iran-Afghanistan (above), Iran-Pakistan (with Pakistan going to standard gauge), Iran-Iraq (two), China-Kazakhstan standard gauge as part of a EU-China standard gauge link (two options: China-K-Russia-Ukraine-Poland or China-K-Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey-Bulgaria) and Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey (oops).

Many more planned, a complex web is being created, with political implications. Non-Oil transportation.


I believe this map at the UNESCO site pretty much illustrates the links you described (dashed and dotted lines are the planned/under construction links)

Trans-Asian Rail Network Map

Main Article:

Trans-Asian Rail Network

A useful map (I copied it since it shows gauge).

But many lines are not included. The Iranian side of the under construction Iran-Afghanistan and Iran-Iraq rail lines are shown but not the other side of the border.

China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan proposal is not shown, neither is the completed line to Tibet. The standard gauge (green) line from China into Kazakhstan is under construction, but not shown,

The Azeri-Georgian-Turkish line is shown with a dashed line, but not the others.

Best Hopes,


Ah yes, the geopolitical uses of rail lines. Recall their use during the Colonial Age.

Absolutely spot on:

Russia has spent the last two decades being denigrated, heckled, lectured,asset stripped and robbed, by the 'victors' of the cold war.

The last few years where NATO moved into nearby States and the final insult of Serbia (the 'little brothers') loosing Kosovo was probably about as much as Russia could take.

US and EU policy to Russia will be looked back on as one of the biggest foreign policy blunders over the last two hundred years.

To see western politicians attacking Russia (yet again) makes me want to retch. When they are not whingeing about gas prices and demanding yet more gas, they are picking fights with Russia with so called democratic rainbow revolutions missile defence systems and arming Georgia.

What the hell did they expect would happen?

What exactly is the calibre and quality of the Foreign Policy wonks?

Or is it just pure hubris?

Or is it just pure hubris?

By jarge, I think yuv got it.

One cannot ignore the implications for the US political scene of all this. McCain, not yet in power, is able to position himself as someone who would have done something more decisive than Bush. Obama is thereby left looking either dovish or me-too-ish.

And of course one can well imagine what this does for military spending. Calls for increases will be irresistible, no matter who gets in.

There's too much emphasis on the stupidity of the neocons. Yes, of course, they cannot see that things will, eventually, end very badly. But they play the game to win in the short and intermediate term and don't really worry about how stupid and incompetent they seem. It benefits them that they are perpetually underestimated.

One possibility that I attach about 30pct chance to is this: The Russians are covertly ceded the Caucusus (or given to think so) while the US is given free hand in the ME, and Iran. The Russians have already shown that themselves unreliable defenders of the little guy. But one way or another, with BTC neutralized, things are bound to heat up around Iran.

What's for sure is that we've turned a another big corner.

I loosely suggested the same possiblity:

I think you're right about the corner. I can't decide what I think about the reports of the forthcoming naval blockade of Iran, and the armada of ships heading towards the gulf. Hope things aren't about to get much much worse.

Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran

Report: Iran warns against surprise attack

The H. Con. Res. 362 proposed legislation may also be related to this?

The guy that wrote the article on the Massive US Naval Armada heading for Iran is a crackpot.

Link to wikipedia Discussion:

Link to his blogs:

A quote from on of his blogs:
"Ancient Scottish title of Baron for sale ~ link. "


Un-called for.

The truth is always called for.

I did not mean to offend.

I was just pointing out that article has no credible backing. Find another source for that information that is credible and I will eat my crow. I tried to find one.

I wasn't even disagreeing (nor agreeing) with what you said davebygolly.

It looks to me as if Cheney met his match in Putin.We just lost a bishop[pipeline]and got put in check.

These "dudes" will get to exit office with one last failure tied around their neck.That is providing they are not playing a much more dangerous game..ala Afghanistan.Poke bear w/stick,bear responds,as predicted/ move..

Which could have something to do with the largest armada ever created in modern history....

As well as more reason [war] to "postpone" elections,and to attempt to postpone the disorder from coming financial tsunami.Kunstler nailed it with this weeks rant.We are at the edge of the abyss,and no one has a clue how to react."Deer in the headlights"....a whole society....without the faintest Idea how to react when the banks stop loaning money...

Snuffy: You brought to my attention something I hadnt
considered ("Postpone" elections) But I did see this coming...."McCain says all Americans back Georgia in struggle"

Dear Mr McCain "Yeh bien ti mutra" if you think you speak for me and all Americans.
My oppologies to those who speak the native tongue of
that region and...
(No mothers were harmed in this dramatization)

Yea, McCain does not speak for me.

"McCain says all Americans back Georgia in struggle"

"We're with you 100%! Um, from a safe distance."

I'd argue Putin plays at a much higher level. He's arguably restored his nation to Great Power status in about a decade.

Even a die-hard American patriot has to appreciate Putin's work. His conduct over the last 9 years has been masterful and Russia has not even hit full stride yet. An impressive man. Every world leader who has gone up against him looks painfully outclassed. I almost felt sorry for Blair and Brown whining while Putin snickered at them. The man has an internal stength and poise which comes along very, very rarely.

Yes, like assassinating political critics with Polonium (as a calling card to show that it was the Russian state doing the killing).

Putin is very intelligent, but also a cold psychopath. VERY KGB.


Just FYI, the Russians see that affair quite differently. Some basic facts contradict official Western version. Do you know what is the difference between KGB and FSB? Do some research.

Putin was a colonel in the KGB.

And I am sure that Russian propaganda had some sort of cover story. Not worth the time to research it.

The facts are that Po210 can be produced by only a handful of nations (if that many) and state involvement is required to get it.

There are many, many ways to kill political critics in foreign capitals. Stalin used an icepick on Trotsky in Mexico City. But this particular method was deliberately chosen by Putin (no one under him would have dared without his permission) to show that the FSB did it.

Under Putin, Cheka > GPU > NKVD > MVD/MGB > KGB > FSB.

Only the Baltic states ever brought any NKVD & KGB criminals to justice, and then only a dozen or so.


Well, that's typical response.
Note, I didn't propose my version of events. I'm just trying to say there're things that are missing from you analysis.

Hint: Do you call FBI agents 'spies'?


I have been reading TOD for a couple of years and respect your knowledge. However in regards to Putin and Russia you are misinformed.
Why would the 2nd most powerful man in the world poison a nobody like Litvinenko? What could be gained from it? A reporter from the New York Sun actually did an investigation and here is his report:

Very briefly. The Neo-Cons have been attempting to bring a military alliance to Russia's border since the end of the cold war, after they peacefully let the Soviet Union dissolve without a shot fired. How would you feel if an anti-US military alliance admitted mexico and established bases there? How would the USA react? Panama, Nicaragua, Grenada, Cuba bring back memories. The Russian reaction to US aggression has been muted, but now they are ready to draw the line. The US and Russia are natural partners in all spheres. I, like almost every American who has lived in Russia not only admire and respect the people, but have a genuine love for their culture which no American can understand unless you have lived there.

FYI by 2012 the population will stop declining and will begin growing again. The birthrate is now 1.8 and climbing rapidly. All projections of catastrophic population decline are equivalent to CERA's charts of future oil production. The goverment knows the problem and is addressing it quite effectively. Putin is a real patriot and would never let Russia faulter. Please visit Russia and see for yourself.


Why would Putin ... poison a nobody like Litvinenko? What could be gained from it?

Intimidation, fear, a certain type of respect comparable to what Ivan the Terrible may have wanted. Perhaps some sadism as well, I do not know Putin's psychology.

The NY Sun is NOT a particularly reputable paper and this line my hypothesis is that Litvinenko came in contact with a Polonium-210 smuggling operation and was, either wittingly or unwittingly, exposed to it is bordering on nonsensical. No, I will change that to, it is nonsensical.

One does not eat radioactive (and very very valuable) smuggled goods. Goods that should be keep in tight containers (and Litvinenko had no immediate plans to travel/smuggle).

Yes, the USA and UK (and China, North Korea, maybe Israel and ?) have the technical capability to produce Po210 (expose bismuth in a reactor for a prolonged time, preferably inside the core), and THEN refine out the Po210 from the Bismuth (a non-trivial process). But only nation states can do this. And not many of them.

And *WHY* would a nation state use such extraordinary means ? Stalin was satisfied with an icepick to kill Trotsky (one of tens of millions). None of the other nation states had any plausible reason to want Litvinenko dead.

The KGB has used poison before, can't think of anyone else using that means. USA likes to use bombs & cruise missiles. Israel likes explosives.

So, about 5 nation states have the means to create and then separate Po210. Russia is the only one with motive (and they have a very strong motive).

The FUS (renamed KGB) could have murdered Litvinenko in any of 1,000+ ways. But many would suspect the Russian Mafia, one of his business partners (perhaps the same), even a jealous lover. They wanted it KNOWN, without doubt, that the Russian Federation got rid of him.

This murder, by this method, would (just like Georgia) intimidate many others, and they would make themselves less objectionable to Putin et al/Russian ruling class interests. Litvinenko = Georgia ?

Dying of radiation sickness is a particularly horrible way to go, you vomit up the lining of your intestines, blood vessels break down, etc. And there is just some shock value as well. All well and good to serve Putin's purposes.

The US and Russia are natural partners in all spheres.

HUH ? The dichotomy in values (unfortunately that gap was closed by GWB) alone limits any partnership. I see a few complimentary areas, but only a few.

I, like almost every American who has lived in Russia not only admire and respect the people, but have a genuine love for their culture

A view shared by none of the Americans I have talked with that have lived and worked there. Of course these are the ones that came back. But the eXile website/blog has a clear POV about Russia, and there is nothing there that I want to get to know.

As far as visiting, Russia is very close to the bottom of the list of places I personally want to vacation in (colored by descriptions of those that lived and worked there but did not stay).

Best Hopes,


PS: Po210 has a half life of 138 days. This means it has little value for smuggling unless the buyer was to use it immediately. In just a year, only 1/7th of the original amount remains.

The USA and the UK may no longer have the capability to separate out the Po210 from bismuth. If one does not use it, why bother not scrapping the processing equipment ?


I also do not necessaritly agree with the Sun's hypothesis. I believe it was most likely connected with Litvinenko's attempts to blackmail high ranking officials and businessman. However, there is nothing to be gained for Putin, only much to lose. Therefore I am certain(99%) he did not authorize it. He could have done it years before if it was necessary, why now with so much to lose? Makes no-sense. Your hatred and bias oozes out of your comments, this is unfortunate and misplaced. Russia is no better or no worse than the USA and they endured their impoverisation with dignity and scratched their way back. I can only hope we in the USA behave as well if our GDP collapses by 50% because of PO (while corporate jackals steal your natural wealth in Russia's case). They commendably managed to maintain control of their Nuclear Arsenal, although I don't know how, the 90's were lawless and everything was for sale. Incidentally the moscow metro(amazing) and the trans siberian(rough but worth it) make a worthwhile trip. Bombardier has just recently signed a big contract to construct a light rail system in St Pete. Russian Railways is working on a link with South Korea via North Korea(I believe via a sea terminal). In addition RZD is laying down their gauge track through slovakia thus making a passage (theoretically) from China or Seoul to Berlin(I think, this is not my area of expertise). Russian Railways is poised to become one of the most powerful companies in the world, connecting Asia to Europe. The IPO will be in a few years, I would invest If I didn't think all markets are going to crash because of PO. I also was witness to some tunneling in Chelyabinsk( called new Austrian method. Finally they are working on linking Moscow to Tehran via I believe Kazakhstan. Some Americans do have a difficult time there because of the language and cultural shock(extreme). I took the time to learn the language.


I am 99% sure that Putin did OK the poisoning with Po210.

I can see lots of reasons that he would want to do so. Invading Georgia puts fear and intimidation into every other Soviet Republic and those they invaded and controlled. See where Poland wants additional bi-lateral assurances from the USA today, and not just as part of NATO. THAT is the "fear and intimidation" part. As I explained in detail, poisoning Litvinenko with this unique method was designed by Putin for exactly the same effect. It was useful to Putin and his goals.

It fits into the character of a KGB general (yes he only made colonel, but he has since been promoted). Kind, nice people with scruples did not get promoted rapidly in the KGB (and few of that type join).

And the circumstantial evidence that the Russian Federation did it is overwhelming. That someone would do such an action w/o Putin's OK are about zero per my understanding of secret service discipline. But that is more likely (a rogue operation inside the FUS) than any other "Putin didn't do it" excuse.

Russia is no better or no worse than the USA

You apparently do not read history.

"linking China and EU"

The Chinese want at least one route that avoids Russia completely. A second route through Russia is OK, if a back-up exists. Thus China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey-Bulgaria ... already under construction.

Invest in Russia

not with my money ! Brazil, yes, and OECD nations. Mafia can bleed profits from companies, Gov't can too. Risk too high for returns in Russia.

And some of the American did know Russian, and still are glad to be out of Russia. eXile has some "interesting" insights into Russian society and mores. Not very attractive and they live in Moscow.

I do not hate the Russians, I just do not trust them nor feel any affection towards them. Little popular support for democratic ideals, etc. Under Putin they are re-emerging as a threat.

If the Trans-Siberian were in another nation, I would be interested.


Some questions about Azeri oil ?

reposted from Drumbeat

I found that in July 08 Azerbaijan exported 25 million barrels through Georgia, or just over 800,000 b/day.

1) How long till local storage tanks are full and production has to be cut back ? This production cannot be "made up later". The smaller pipeline to the Black Sea was open when the Russians attacked, but the larger one to Turkey had been blown up days earlier.

2) What is the capacity of the oil pipeline through Russia ? How much oil was exported that way in recent months ?

Oil can be exported by rail as well (China imports oil from Russia by rail). Azerbaijan has a closed rail link to Iran, that goes through Armenia. A direct Azeri-Iranian line is in advanced planning. Another closed line to Turkey through Armenia and an Azeri-Georgian-Turkey line is under construction.

An overview of the jumble

My conclusion is that Azerbaijan cannot export oil without Russian approval (Armenia solidly supports Russia).


This link seems to have some information about a little of this. Not sure it's reliable though:

from that link

Iranian TV reported claims that Russia bombed and destroyed the Georgian Black Sea oil port Poti, which is distant from all of the disputed territories, and is another strategic Georgian energy sector asset serving the international community.

Russia razed key port of Poti … Russian military jets have bombarded and destroyed the Black Sea port of Poti, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has claimed in a statement.

If true, that means that 500,000 b/day of Turkmen, Kazakh and Azeri oil will have to find another export outlet or be shut in.

Plus the 1 million b/day through Turkey.


through the russian line, just like Russia wanted to begin with, with more tariffs.

AFAIK, not enough capacity. Never upgraded for increased production.


Alan I believe upgrade or new line will be complete this year. They are hoping to send Kazakh oil through it, but I am sure they would let Azeri in! I know they are very concerned there is not enough oil to utilize it efficiently.

Are you referring to the Baku-Supsa Pipeline? If so, it says on wikipedia:

The capacity of the pipeline is 145,000 barrel per day (bbl/d) with proposed upgrades to between 300,000 bbl/d to 600,000 bbl/d.

I take it that it has been upgraded then?

No the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, the one that does NOT go through Georgia.

I did find (should have searched more earlier :-(

The diameter of the pipeline is 720 millimetres and the capacity of annual transfer is equal to 5 million tons

Using "1 barrel of crude oil per day = appr. 50 tons of crude oil per year", that is 100,000 b/day.


I don't quite follow. Surely IF they've razed the port of Poti, it's the Baku-Supsa Pipeline that is affected?

On a low detail map of the pipeline, it appears to terminate where Poti is located. On a highly detailed map, with 16 coastal towns and villages in Georgia listed, there is no Supsa. (A Sarki on the border with Turkey is closest).

I would expect very few oil tanker loading facilities on the Georgia coast. Why build more than one ?

So I assume the Supsa is part of Poti. And got bombed.


BP: Not aware of Russian bombing on Baku-Supsa pipeline, The Wall Street Journal, Benoit Faucon, Last update: 6:56 a.m. EDT Aug. 12, 2008:

The 150,000-barrel-a-day Baku-Supsa pipeline is operated by the Azerbaijan International Operating Co., whose largest shareholder is BP.

A Reuters report Tuesday quoted a Georgian Interior Security official as saying Russia had bombed the pipeline, which transports Azerbaijani oil to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa. Russia denies the attack.

I think Georgia is lying about Russia bombing the pipelines. Georgia also claimed Russia bombed the BTC pipeline but missed the target.

Apparently Russia did bomb the oil terminus of Poti, where both pipelined and railed in oil was exported. Capacity of 500,000 b/day and plans to expand by 200,000 b/day suggest that it was operating close to capacity.

One "hard to find out about" issue will be how quickly railed in oil can /will be allowed to be diverted to the Russian oil port.

800,000 to 850,000 b/day of oil exports shut in by the pipeline to Turkey and up to 500,000 b/day through Poti. 3% of all world oil exports.


Alan: Ive been following all that you post here on
TOD and always check your links you provide. I wish to
ask a favor of you or any others who seem to have much
more knowlege of the geography and historical perspective of this situation then I have.
I was under the impression that the USA in 1953 overthrew Prime Minister Mossadeq of Iran,and installed the Shah as dictator....this didnt stick though and the process was repeated several times.
Turkey has always been used by the west as a sort of
bulkwork agaisnt Russian expansion.
So Iam asking if these recent tensions havent been
"baked in the cake" for quite some time now and the
powers involved all pretty much know their perspective
Could this be more of a push that doesnt come to a shove type of show??? two boxers who ham it up
at the prerequisite weigh-in?
Could the advent of P.O.change the game enormously in
ways even the elect cannot fathom?
Sorry I have so many questions.Thanks in advance.

The Dimtry Orlov piece was good (see links).

The US policy has been stupid & incompetent. We set this up without realizing or understanding the issues and cultures we were dealing with.

And I fear we will see -1.5 million b/day less oil on world markets for a long time as one of several consequences.

I am hardly an expert, but I do understand different motivations by different people.

I see where Iran is playing nice with ALL of it's neighbors, and trying to help out. The new rail links and hydroelectric dams are part of the totality of their diplomacy. A much more effective approach IMHO.

WHY did GWB snub Putin at last G8 meeting (and before as well) ? Respect really costs VERY little.

WHY not make some "humanitarian exceptions" to the Iran embargo (medical equipment) and help in specific areas of mutual interest ?

Etc. etc.


Hi Nephillim--You'll find this is a good place to start regarding Iran and many other things.

Russia and the Ottoman Turks fought many wars over the centuries as the Tsars marched south in hopes of securing a Black Sea port AND passage through the strait gaurded by Istanbul. This is perhaps the best overview Russian history book, which you can buy very cheaply at the link or ought to find in your local library.

So Iam asking if these recent tensions havent been "baked in the cake" for quite some time now and the powers involved all pretty much know their perspective places?

I would answer in the negative, that an aggressively expansive Empire that doesn't know its place is at the root of global instabilities since the end of WW2. To paraphrase Stalin, they are breaking eggs, not baking a cake. Peak Oil is a component of the "Game." The course the US Empire is currently on is called "Last Man Standing," and will eventually result in its demise. It's how many billions will die during that demise that is the prime question.

karlof1 : Thank you for steering me to more information on the subject and for answering my
So I wasnt mistaken that the USA has been the antagonist in this region (USA over throwing a democratic elected Premier Mosaddeq 1953)and installing a brutal dictator puppet regime using the Shah.....USA Iran contra affair and all Ive neglected
to conserve space and pixels.
And now America using Georgians and sacrificing them
on the altar of American empire like the south Vietnamese and Kurds and.....(space and pixels conservation option on)I know Iam gonna get flak as if
I were a drug rep hawking snake oil remedies...oh wait
they get a warm welcome....I meant for telling the
unarguable historical truth which can always be labled
as hateful language.

Bush seems to know his place in Georgia by not intervening. If Russia's objective stops at ejecting Georgia from South Ossetia and Abkhazeti, then the wrong is corrected and Russia basks in glory. Russia will not have control of the BTC pipeline and Saakashvili remains president with a weakened military. McCain, who does not know his place in Georgia, is the larger problem if elected.


Thank you for your efforts with these current highly interesting open threads on Georgia.

Also thanks to all of you who share comments and makes these threads interesting reads.

Amazing that oil price and gold did NOT significantly react to this.

Yes, especially given the massive collapse in (esp. gold) prices over the last few days. It's quite confusing really.

Some of this may be redundant, but I thought people would want to know capacities of oil through Georgia.

There are oil two pipelines through Georgia. The larger is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which has been out of action since last week. It has a capacity of 1 million barrels a day, and according this report, has been operating at this level.

There is a second smaller pipeline called the Baku-Supsa pipeline. It has the capacity of 150,000 barrels a day. It was reopened a few months ago, after being inactive for 18 months. It has recently been carrying 90,000 barrels a day. BP today closed this indefinitely, as a "precautionary measure", according to the same article.

In addition to these pipelines

Georgian ports on the Black Sea are a main shipping point of Caspian Sea crude from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. More than 500,000 barrels leave these ports daily, and plans are afoot to expand capacity by an additional 200,000 barrels a day.

I came across a report that 25 million barrels of Azeri oil was shipped through Georgia in July 08 (only 806,000 b/day). Was there Kazahk and Turkmen oil as well in those pipelines to get to 1 million b/day ?

Did the rest of the oil exported through Georgian Black Sea ports get there by rail (pipeline 90,000 b/day, total 500,000 b/day) ?

How much can be shipped by Russian pipelines ? [Quote from SOCAR said that the capacity of the Baku-Norossiysk pipeline is "quite low"] How much was in fact shipped that way ? And how much by Russian rail ?

I am trying to quantify the pieces. It looks as if 1.5 million b/day of oil exports have been shut in, 3.3% or 3.4% of total world exports !

Any answers to any of the above ? Anyone ?



Gail, one of these days I hope to cut you a fat check for all the homework you save me! (Same goes for the rest of the TOD editors!)

Hello TODers,

It will be interesting [horrifying?] to read about infrastructure and habitat destruction in this war-torn area. Some questions:

How many acres were scorched by weaponry-induced forest fires running amok? How many farmers' fields torn up by heavy armor tracks? What's the numbers on irrigation systems and potable water impoundments disabled, and for how long? How many farm tractors now have cracked engine blocks from being on the receiving end of heavy weapons?

Did troops on either side machine-gun dairy cattle for the sheer sport? RPG or blowtorch the big chicken coops? Wrinkle their noses upon first smelling a hog farm, then responding with a rocket or artillery volley upwind?

How well does a seed/grain storage elevator or a flour mill holdup to a 115mm tank shell? When a 500 lb bomb hits a regional bakery--is it relatively easy to re-bend the oven sheet metal, or has the multiple shrapnel penetrations foreclosed this option?

After dropping a time-delayed hand grenade inside the underground gas-station tank--will it then require total replacement? How many miles of electrical line are down? How many thousands of wooden telephone and power poles cut down in a mindless chainsaw massacre?

Military potholes on a freeway aren't much of an obstacle to a tracked vehicle, but doesn't that play hell with future commuting traffic? How many heavy locomotives non-functional, and how easy to get them mechanically sound again? What about water & FF pumping substations, and large transformer substations [you can't get parts at your local Wal-Mart]?

Can sewage treatment plants be repaired before the free-flowing outflows wreck the topwater and shallow-well water supplies?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


Your apt reminder of the realities on the bloody ground ought to be required comment at the end of each media story on this disaster. It puts me in mind of Mark Twain's "The War Prayer":

Gail, superb job here as always.

Also Bob, after 4 years of carpetbagging from the US, the Georgian population is probably up to their eyeballs in debt. Whatever the Russians have left them will be taken away by a different kind of force as the economy implodes.

The US is putting together an economic aid package for Georgia, which will probably rob the Georgians of anything valuable they have left. Hopefully the Georgians will now wake up, rid themselves of "the lunatic" Saakashvili and find themselves a more pragmatic leader. There is some hope:

While thousands rallied in support of Saakashvili yesterday outside the parliament in Tbilisi, there was a growing sense among many Georgians that his decision to attack had been a disastrous blunder - with Russia's overwhelming response both predictable and highly costly.

"Why are people waving flags? It's not as if we won," Lasha Darkveldze, 23, said as supporters thronged the centre of Tbilisi and marched on its freedom square. "Saakashvili should now resign."

"We hope he is going to disappear from Georgia," Bacha Janashia, 24, a student, said. "I wonder why he did it. He has only 10,000 soldiers and he takes on Russia."

More utter insanity:

Stories like this convince me it won't matter who takes the high office next year.

Another cynical angle I thought of was that Georgia was sacrificed as bait to draw Russia's military out. This would allow detailed observation of their tactical capabilities and combined arms doctrine.

"Cyberspace Barrage Preceded Russian Invasion of Georgia"

"Weeks before physical bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace."

Perhaps this would also be a prelude to any attack upon Iran.

I find that NY Times "cyber-attack" story pretty suspect.

My particular problem with the story is that the first round of attacks originated from the US and the second round originated from Russia.

If the Russians had commandeered US computers for the initial attacks why not continue to do so for subsequent attacks? Why leave the door open for accusations that Russia was the aggressor? Remote control of zombie attack servers is easily achieved in this day and age, and there are plenty of unsecured boxes out there to command.

Again, this NYT story simply does not smell right to me.

However it could explain why Georgia "seemingly" attacked first.

One prediction from this event is that Germany (and Europe in general) will be building many more new nuclear power plants. Otherwise, they would be too dependent on Gazprom for Russian natural gas. The Finns have the right idea and a head start.

Likewise, California is on course to become dependent on Russian LNG and needs to rethink its policies and plans.

Germany doesn't have any uranium supplies, so they would merely shift the nature of their dependency.

Nuclear power has the worst EROEI if the mining, milling, enriching, emissions, meltdowns and babysitting of the excrement is factored in.

All future members of all species are in the current generation's DNA, so mass production of mutagens is not a good idea if extinction is to be avoided.

Interesting point about alternate dependencies:

The uranium needs for a fleet of new reactors are physically small and there are a large variety and diversity of suppliers. Diversity of suppliers is a key protection. With the Gazprom natural gas pipelines, the only alternative is LNG where Russia also has a strong position. Overall, Germany would be in a much better energy security position generating its electricity from nuclear rather than natural gas.

The balance of your assertions don't merit rebuttal.


Of course you are perfectly right. Unfortunately the German public is still largely immune to rational argument, thanks largely to twenty years of Green anti-nuclear hysteria.

I reckon we'll just have to wait for a combination of a cold winter and a rise in the price of oil to $200 per barrel. That might eventually put paid to 'permatopian' delusions.

The longterm paradigm change will become reality as hydrocarbons will become far too expensive, with atomics becoming the same. The new paradigm mandates ALL electricity be generated by the earth or its star and a discontinuance of liquid transport fuels. No country on the planet can escape from this reality, just as no country will escape the consequences of climate change/global warming. Where a choice does exist is to transit the paradigm change peacefully, yes or no? It's very clear to me and other analysts that the US Empire has chosen NO as its answer. Thus the US Empire has chosen to threaten ALL life on the planet. Just how much effort has gone into this choice is reflected by the US Propaganda System's attempts to escalate the conflict. This is unacceptible. Given the outburts of Obama, McCain and their advisors, the continuation of BushCo's War OF terror will continue; but we will at least have the satisfaction of knowing it's all about energy resources, not Islamic Terrorism.

Diplomat Richard Holbrook is marvelous in rebuttal to the Putin-ites
lead by a beet-red UN Ambassador Vitali Churkhin on Lehrer Pbs newshour.

Proof that some Americans possess spines.


Richar Holbrook is a neo-con fool whose loyalty is with Israel not the United States. Holbrook, Kagan, Kristol et al, are all traitors as their loyalty lies with Israel and their actions particulary with regards to Russia run counter to US interests.


thanks for u'r info & work steering us thru this conflict!!!

A few years back I briefly subscribed to Azerbaijan International Magazine. It has fallen behind schedule. Does anyone know why?

Am I the only one who recalls (it seems like just yesterday)That George Bush gazed deep into Putins eyes
and said...
PRESIDENT BUSH: "I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue"

The part about Putin ("I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue")Bush sounds like hes
trying to get the prom dress off his prom date and
would say anything towards that end.
Looks like Putin has better family values then to be
raped by a cheap date.
Too those who say what I have said is hatefilled or
false...argue with an official White/House/dot/gov

A look at the map makes the issue at hand quite transparent.

Oil and gas can come from Russia into Europe by tanker through the Black Sea from its massive terminal in Novorossiysk or by pipelines through Belarus, Ukraine and even plans of under water construction in the Baltic. All of these give Russia a huge leverage, almost monopoly, over both the transit and destination countries. More than 25 European countries depend now for more than 75% of their oil and gas from Russia.

There's an interesting interview over at Democracy Now! with a retired US officer Frank Gardiner.

He asserts that Russian military doctrine has undergone a transformation since the US wars against Iraq. Basically the Russians saw the awsome effectiveness and power of modern US precision conventional weapons and concluded that the United States was more or less udefeatable in battle. What then could Russia do if at some point in the future it found itself in open conflict with the United States military?

The Russian answer was simple but terrifying, a rapid escalation to the use of tactical nuclear weapons to redress the balance on the battlefield. This meant lowering the threshold for nuclear war substantially with all that implies for world peace. Once one starts using nukes where does one stop?

Basically what the Russians were saying was that any attack on Russian forces would mean nuclear war with Russia, those were the stakes, and the United States should make no mistake about this. The Russians were not bluffing and had no intention of becoming the next Iraq, no matter the cost, and the "imperialist hawks" in Washington should understand this.

According to Gardiner the Russians have been carrying out military exercises to show how serious they are about defending their interests and terriotory and the conflict in Georgia follows the pattern and strategy to the hilt. Supposedly the Russians even deployed missiles that had a nuclear capability in the current conflict as a warning to the United States of the consequences of any intervention to support its ally Georgia.

This is all highly speculative of course, yet it does indicate the delicate nature of international relations at the present time, the high stakes and the horrific consequences if things were to spiral out of control.

Way back I listened to an interview with Helena Bonner (Sakharov's wife), an intellectual in her own right. She said that the US and the West kept misreading the Russian mentality which had evolved out of 1000 years of suppression and brutal leadership.

She said that Western Style democracy the US was giving to Russia would not be what it appeared to be. How right she was.

If the next US president follows Bush's global policy based on a cash-strapped shock and awe military machine, and keeps pushing an ever richer Russia into a corner, Russia will ally seriously with China and then divide the US and Europe up between them.

The US is very close to the financial position Russia was in, in the 1990's, when it could not keep up anymore and failed. If Bush and his follower have even half a brain between them they will seriously consider the outcome of pretending to be rich on someone else's money.

I think Europe is wising up, they have to live with Russia. The UK still appears to be gung-ho for the US. They above all should see the forewarnings of how to lose an empire.

Georgia will be a testing point to see which side wins a piece of geography which is actually valueless to both sides.

well said, writerman & reindeer

I think Europe is wising up, they have to live with Russia

May be why Nicolas Sarkosy is hot to trot to broker some... any kind???... of deal.

The French are stealing the thunder today.

The US is very close to the financial position Russia was in, in the 1990's, when it could not keep up anymore and failed

It's a different thing - the USSR had a deficit of food, the USA has a surplus, so when the USSR ran out of money, it went hungry, if the USA goes broke they can still feed themselves.

Any government to retain its legitimacy must do a minimum of two things: pay the army, and feed the people. It can struggle along with doing just one of those, it can do both and still fail, but if it does neither it's definitely toast, time for a revolution.

The USSR was unable to pay the army or feed the people, so it lost legitimacy and was ignored into non-existence. The USA should be able to at least feed the people, so however bad its financial situation it has some chance of survival as a country.

The US feeds its people by turning oil into food. Oil for food must compete with oil for cars, and we love our cars more. Sarcasm aside, I don't think it's quite as easy as you make it out - at least long term. Serious issues with oil, water, and fertilizer supplies may well remove that advantage.

It was the AG policy of the USSR that caused its food shortages. That no longer applies. For centuries, Russia was a very profitable exporter of foodstuffs to Europe. I also find it interesting that you place responsibility for feeding "the people" with the government. IMO, what caused the dissolusion of the USSR was glasnost and peristroika--openness and truthtelling, which undermined the hypocriscy that pervaded Soviet life. Soviet citizens always knew they were living a lie; what was now different is that the lie was openly admitted, morale sank through the floor--helped by the weight of the Afghan War--it was assessed that the Soviet System was beyond repair, and it all fell apart after the aborted coup to replace Gorbachev, which ended up being a successful coup for Yeltsin as his call for the Commonwealth of Independent States was adopted. The ability to pay or feed ultimately had nothing to do with the USSR's fall. As Marx would say, it fell because of its own massive set of internal contradictions, which is exactly what's happening now to the US Empire.

I also find it interesting that you place responsibility for feeding "the people" with the government.

Only because historically the people do, too. If there's not enough food or you can't afford it, you don't quietly starve to death saying "oh well, I guess the invisible hand of the market smacked me in the head", you say, "oi! You bastards we pay taxes to! DO SOMETHING!" And if they don't, well... crime and/or revolution follow.

You may feel that in principle this is wrong, but this is the pattern of history. When the people are hungry in large numbers, they blame the government. If the government does nothing, it lose legitimacy, and may end up disappearing entirely.

IMO, what caused the dissolusion of the USSR was glasnost and peristroika--openness and truthtelling, which undermined the hypocriscy that pervaded Soviet life.

Glasnost and perestroika were required by the West as a condition of the loans to the USSR which the government used to import food when their oil revenue dried up due to low oil prices due to pumping over quota by the Gulf states.

The ability to pay or feed ultimately had nothing to do with the USSR's fall.

Yegor Gaidar, first deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy for the Russian Federation from 1991-94, disagrees with you. Of course you may feel that his experience does not qualify him to know anything about the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ah, Gaidar, yes. Too radical even for Yeltsin.

Food situation become more serious AFTER the breakup, not before. Before, there was rationing; after, nobody cared if you starved.
There were more important causes for the breakup. Like, everyday humiliation of being the citizen of the country. Hate towards government in all forms. Idealistic belief in better life just around the corner.

Interesting ideas.

It's hard to say exactly what Russian force doctrine is at this point. It would help if we had a better idea of how effective their hardware and training is.

For example, I've heard wildly varying claims regarding the effectiveness of their S-300/S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. Same for their anti-ship missiles.

There are other interesting data points like the joint US-Indian AF Cope India exercises that have been held the past several years. Indian pilots flying Russian planes have acquitted themselves surprisingly well versus current frontline US pilots and aircraft. Supposedly, the Germans did pretty well with the MIG 29s acquired during reunification.

On the other hand, there is an entire book about the Russian Air Force during on the period 1992-2002. They are less than complementary to Russian air power during the Chechen campaigns.

And Russia cements its Great Power status by doing the traditional, "we can break treaties if we want to, screw the rest of you, what are you going to do about it?"

Russian tanks patrol Gori.

Well, they have to protect the Ossetians while they're looting...

I bet it's all that thousands of volunteers from all over the North Caucasus. While tanks were shooting each over, they hid behind them. Now it's their time. Since Russians destroyed all Georgian forces there, nobody will stop looting. Anybody surprised?

When hate is unleashed, it'll take a horrific toll.

The volunteers didn't have tanks. Those are Russian.

Hey, breaking treaties freely entered into are a tradition of Great Powers.

Just what treaty are you referring to?

[double post]

[/lurk] Couple of reports coming in that a Russian armored column has left Gori and is advancing on Tbilisi.

The Georgians say they're not heading for Tbilisi.

I'm surprised that the Russians never took the airfield and military base South of Tbilisi, as this would give them direct control over the pipeline and any redevelopment of Georgia. Perhaps they're going to skirt round Tbilisi and take the two bases. Again, just conjecture. Having gone so far, it seems odd that the Russians didn't finish the job so as to allow no regression by the Georgians.

Burgundy: The reason why the Russians did not take the airfield was that the US had 2000 Marines training Georgian military there. Can you imagine a Russian attack that accidentally killed US Marines? Putin is not a fool and did not try to deter militarily the reuniting of Georgian Army from Iraq by US Airforce during the shooting phase of the war although he was clearly not happy about it. The only thing they did was to destroy the radar station at the airport that was used for Georgian military purposes.

Thanks GROK. IIRC the US military advisers had been moved to hotels in Tbilisi at the beginning of hostilities and were due to leave the country. I was unaware that there were still US military at the airfield. Any planes?

Seems the Russians have downed a second Georgian drone.

So where do Russia go from here? How can they control the pipeline and stop Georgia from reverting back to a US outpost? Without achieving these two goals, the whole Russian attack would seem pointless. Unless that wasn't their plan of course.

Hi Burgundy, there seems to be lots of numbers of American and Israeli "trainers" in Georgia right now. The US government says only 130 trainers in Georgia. Hundreds of Israeli's are there too. The Russian government has found black soldiers(dead)from the battle that were part of the forces that attacked Ossetia hinting they are american. We simply don't know the details. The marines I mentioned may have been a reporting error since there was a contingent of 2000 American Guard forces from the state of Georgia there last month. I imagine various kinds of covert forces operated out of Georgia for some time. This area of the caucases is a mercenary wet dream with cossacks, Ukrainians, Chechens, Ossetians and various ner-do-wells fighting for cash and revenge. In these wars massacres are routine. The attack by Georgia after signing a cease-fire is a standard operating procedure there. One must remember that Putin's popularity soared when after the apartment bombings in Moscow(?) that took place shortly after he came to power he waged a third and successful campaign against the Chechen revolt. Irregular Forces recuited for the Abkhazia war of 91-93 included Chechens that would start the revolt in Chechnia years later.
The Russians "Shock and Awe" attack on Georgia has accomplished many goals. It has created a sphere of influence in the old soviet states. It has created a new balance of power in the oil 'stans in favor of Russia. It has shown the Russian Army as a capable instrument of foreign policy. It has weakened the power of the US.

Bush says US expects Russians to leave Georgia

"He also announced that a massive U.S. humanitarian effort was already in progress, and would involve U.S. aircraft as well as naval forces. A U.S. C-17 military cargo plane loaded with supplies is already on the way, and Bush said that Russia must ensure that "all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, roads and airports," remain open to let deliveries and civilians through.";_yl...

They are going in

Next important question is Putin's reaction. He was already pissed about White Houses previous announcements, it will remain to be seen what happens when the C-17 tries to land. At the very least, it will be painted as "weapons deliveries" or something like that.

This cant be good... UN-led humanitarian deliveries may be borderline possible, but US military ..

So... in the light of all this... which is making me feel quite sick.

Might we be approaching a Cuban Missile Crisis moment? Does anyone have a possible list of Russian nuclear targets in the West?

Maybe I'm over reacting, but surely this could move the Doomsday Clock

I've got a bad feeling about this situtation, especially after watching Bush's face. I think he's been talking to his "God" again - heaven help us all!

I didn't like the way he sounded either. He was close to given the Russians an ultimatum to withdraw their forces from all of Georgia. He was certainly stating that the United States has the right to intervene in Georgia and demands free access to the region by land, sea and air for humanitarian purposes.

What happens if the Russians say "no" and suspect the US is re-arming the Georgian forces? Is Bush trying to escalate the conflict and confront the Russians on their own doorstep? Is it an attempt to create an artificial international crisis that will benefit his party and Mcain and wrong-foot Obama? Are we seeing a new Cuban missile crisis developing, or is it all merely bluff? Was it all a clever trap which the Russians were forced to step into?

The stupidest thing right now is to re-arm the Georgian forces. They have been arming for several years and it doesn't help them. Sending a couple of rifles right now won't change reality on the ground. See on BBC site pics of burnt Georgian tanks. Also, the Russians claim they found large number of combat-ready hardware on abandoned military base near Gori and are moving it to SO. Military losses are too high to be resupplied by few planes.

But Russian diplomacy will be happy to blame the US for supporting the aggressor.

The guy running the linked blog provided excellent coverage of the US military's march to Baghdad, Iraqi troop dispositions, and very detailed after-battle reports by Russian G-2. Russian sources are needed.

The Greater Caucuses range forms a solid barrier (at least in winter) to the southward extension of Russian power from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Of course Russia did get south of the range eventually if only by going around it. Finally the Soviets' penetrated it with the all-weather Roki tunnel, negating the Caucuses as a strategic obstacle. With the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia could never give up so valuable an asset as that tunnel. Georgia has always been a mix of ethnicities (Georgian, Abkhazian, Armenian, Azeri, Greek, Turkish, Ossetian, ...) and with the break-up, each supported secession of their particular area of predominance. To control the strategic crossings, Russia backed the Abkhazians and the Ossetians, and their secessions succeeded while the others failed. A must-have military asset was secured. Thus an attack on South Ossetia, the southern end of the Roki, is now comparable for Russia to an attack on the Panama canal for the US. Assertion of that reality by Russia in face of a Georgian challenge should have come as no surprise. Why the Georgians would think to try immediately after a visit from the US Secretary of State is disturbing at best.

To summarize the last few days:
Georgians pulled all their forces throughout the country to defend Tbilisi. Cities and bases were abandoned. Russians was in no mood to storm the capital, instead they began wondering around Georgia, moving useful hardware to their positions and blowing up the rest. Local authorities, whether they were found, had to cooperate to minimize damage.
In Poti, Russian forces captured empty Georgian warships, moved them outside the port and sunk.

In trying to understand what was happening in Georgia I used the supposition that it was a strategic energy play by Russia using South Ossetia as the excuse. I'm not so sure that this is the case though.

Russia failed to follow the simple logic of gaining physical control of the pipeline and failed to block the possibility of Georgia regaining its prior roll as a US outpost. They made no attempt to do either.

I'm slowly beginning to think that what happened was the US through its proxy Georgia tried to secure the pipeline and Georgia by regaining control over South Ossetia. The idea being to ethnically cleanse the area and deny Russia access as a staging area for any assault on Georgia. This presupposes that the US were behind the Georgians assault on Ossetia.

Looks very much like the Pentagon's plans backfired disastrously as Russia made its own move to halt any further strategic moves in the area by the US. Looking at the whole situation from this perspective makes everything fit in place and explains certain things which didn't seem right.

So my current take on things is that Russia are now playing with the US, forcing it to make its next move. In this case Russia seem to be in control of the game and ready to play rough if necessary. Just conjecture on my part of course.

Anyone got any further ideas on this?

edit: Russia has refused to leave Gori and increased the number of troops there, plus it has moved back into Poti. They seem to be saying to Bush; "ok, you talk tough, but lets see what you're going to do now". All the while destroying 4 years of work by the Pentagon in training and arming Georgia. Georgia itself has over extended itself financial to build up its army at the expense of the economy and the people of Georgia. Talk about blowback...

Latest from Venik

Not saying whether it's good,bad, moderately true or false but during the Iraq war he had great Russian sources


"In 1992-1996 Karadžić [now before the ICC] led the heroic defense of Sarajevo against Muslim fundamentalists."

... interesting, but a bit one-eyed, as they say in NZ rugby.

I checked his allegations of Reuters publishing fake photos (he claims that they used the same man in several photos). Some superficial facial similarity in low vs. high resolution photographs (I bet they are all Georgians) but they differ in skin tone on the forearms and hair color.

"Ax to grind" is likely an understatement.


Georgian official account of events, starting from 1th of August ( the events DID NOT start on 8th )

alternative link

Oh and UN SC july report on Georgian conflict is an interesting read as well, found here

Hi Kert,

Thanks. The detailed timeline is extremely helpful.


Gwynne Dyer: Georgia's huge South Ossetia mistake

The war in South Ossetia is essentially over, and the Georgians have lost. This was Georgia’s second attempt in 18 years to conquer the breakaway territory by force, and now that option is gone for good. So are the country’s hopes of joining NATO. Yet sections of the western media are carrying on as if the Russians started it and are now threatening to invade Georgia itself.

U.S. President George W. Bush has condemned Russia’s “disproportionate and dangerous” response. Much is made of Russian air attacks on targets inside Georgia, and especially of the inevitable misses that cause civilian casualties, but the vast majority of the 2,000 civilians allegedly killed so far in this conflict were South Ossetians killed by Georgian shells, rockets, and bombs. Some shooting and bombing will continue until all the Georgian troops are cleared out of South Ossetia—including the 40 percent they controlled before the war—but then it will stop.

Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is playing on old Cold War stereotypes of the Russian threat in a desperate bid for western backing: “What Russia is doing in Georgia is open, unhidden aggression and a challenge to the whole world. If the whole world does not stop Russia today, then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital.” Nonsense. It was Georgia that started this war.

The chronology tells it all. Skirmishes between Georgian troops and the South Ossetian militia grew more frequent over the past several months, but on August 7, Saakashvili offered the separatist South Ossetian government “an immediate ceasefire and the immediate beginning of talks”, promising that “full autonomy” was on the table. Only hours later, however, he ordered a general offensive.

South Ossetia’s president, Eduard Kokoity, called Saakashvili’s ceasefire offer a “despicable and treacherous” ruse, which seems fair enough. Through all of Thursday night and Friday morning, Georgian artillery shells and rockets rained down on the little city of Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s capital, while Georgian infantry and tanks encircled it. Russian journalists reported that 70 percent of the city was destroyed, and by Friday afternoon it was in Georgian hands.

The offensive was obviously planned well in advance, but Saakashvili didn’t think it through. He knew that the world’s attention would be distracted by the Olympics, and he hoped that Russia’s reaction would be slow because Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was off in Beijing. Given three or four days to establish full military control of South Ossetia, he could put a pro-Georgian administration in place and declare the problem solved. But his calculations were wrong.

There was no delay in the Russian response. A large Russian force was on its way from North Ossetia (which is part of the Russian Federation) by midday on Friday, and Russian jets began striking targets inside Georgia proper. By the time Putin reached the North Ossetia­Alanian capital of Vladikavkaz on Saturday morning, the Georgian forces were already being driven out of Tskhinvali.

By Saturday evening, Georgia was calling for a ceasefire and declaring that all its troops were being withdrawn from South Ossetia to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe”. Saakashvili’s gamble had failed—and, as Putin put it, the territorial integrity of Georgia had “suffered a fatal blow”.

Not just South Ossetia has been lost for good: Georgia’s hope of ever recovering its other breakaway province, Abkhazia, has also evaporated. On Saturday, the Abkhazian government announced a military offensive to drive Georgian troops out of the Kodori Gorge, the last bit of Abkhazian territory that they control.

How much does all of this matter?

It matters a lot to the 300,000 Georgians who fled from Abkhazia and South Ossetia when the two ethnic enclaves, which were autonomous parts of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in Soviet times, declared their independence after the old Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Georgia’s attempts to reconquer them in 1992-93 were bloody failures, and after this second failure it is clear that the Georgian refugees will never go home.

It is a reason to rejoice for most Abkhazians and South Ossetians. Although they are Orthodox Christians like the far more numerous Georgians, they are ethnically distinct peoples with different languages, and they always resented Stalin’s decision to place them under Georgian rule. Whether they ultimately get full independence or simply join the Russian Federation, they will be happy with the outcome.

The Bush administration’s bizarre ambition to extend NATO into the Caucasus mountains is dead. Russians are pleased with the speed and effectiveness of their government’s response. And nobody else really cares.

There is no great moral issue here. What Georgia tried to do to South Ossetia is precisely what Russia did to Chechnya, but Georgia wasn’t strong enough and South Ossetia had a bigger friend. There is no great strategic issue either: apart from a few pipeline routes, the whole Transcaucasus is of little importance to the rest of the world. A year from now, the Georgians will probably have dumped Saakashvili, and the rest of us may not even remember his foolish adventure.


The complete interview of a South Ossetian Girl on Fox.

American Joe Mestas, in South Ossetia at the time of Georgian shelling, describes the shelling and assigns blame to Georgia.