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News :: War and Militarism
Russian Troops Enter Georgia, Seize Military Base
11 Aug 2008
From the perspective of a world sick and tired of U.S. imperial encrouchments all over the globe, this is good news for the yanks to suffer another strategic loss. But beware of a trap/diversion. The primary and current objective in the "great game" is still likely to be Iran. jamie
From the perspective of a world sick and tired of U.S. imperial encrouchments all over the globe, this is good news for the yanks to suffer another strategic loss. But beware of a trap/diversion. The primary and current objective in the "great game" is still likely to be Iran. jamie


Russian Troops Enter Georgia, Seize Military Base
By Henry Meyer and Torrey Clark

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russia troops entered the western Georgian town of Senaki from the breakaway region of Abkhazia and seized a military base there today, Georgian officials said.

About 30 armored personnel carriers and more then 20 trucks with Russian soldiers entered the town and took control of the base, Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia said by mobile phone. Russia has sent peacekeepers to the Senaki area on a ``preventative mission,'' Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti said, citing a Defense Ministry official. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky declined to comment.

The Russian incursion came after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed a cease-fire and the European Union prepared to send a peace mission to Moscow tomorrow. Saakashvili earlier today accused Russia of seeking ``regime change.''

The conflict is Russia's first full-blown military offensive outside its borders since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. The war is exacerbating tensions between Russia and the U.S. and threatens Georgia's American-backed bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO's members are required to defend each other, and Russia views Georgia's bid as a security threat. The West has courted Georgia as a counterweight to Russia's influence in the region, in part because it has an oil pipeline that bypasses Russia.

Russian warplanes dropped several bombs on a radar station for Tbilisi airport overnight, and artillery and planes pounded the central town of Gori today, Georgian officials said. Russian aircraft also bombed the Black Sea port of Poti, Kutelia said earlier. Russian officials say they are only targeting military facilities.

`Extensively Bombed'

Georgian towns are being ``extensively bombed,'' Saakashvili said today in a conference call with reporters. ``We want and need an immediate cease-fire.'' At least 1,600 people have died since the conflict began on Aug. 7, according to Russia. Georgia says hundreds of troops have been killed on both sides as well as ``huge numbers'' of civilians.

Georgia and Russia have been fighting since last week when Russia moved in troops and bombed targets after Georgian forces tried to reclaim the breakaway region of South Ossetia on the Russian border.

Russia may be seeking to incapacitate the U.S.-armed Georgian military and topple Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer who came to power in 2003 and has sought to bring his former Soviet nation into NATO, said Masha Lipman, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center.

`Serious Goals'

``I think Russia has not brought in its troops for the first time projecting military force outside its borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to pull out quickly and return to the status quo,'' Lipman said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. ``I think that Russia has serious goals and Russia will not withdraw until its goals are fulfilled.''

Russia hasn't received an official proposal from Georgia for a cease-fire, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russian deputy chief of the General Staff, told reporters today in Moscow.

Russian forces overnight tried to advance on Gori, a central Georgian town beyond the South Ossetian border, said Kakha Lomaia, head of Georgia's Security Council, in a phone interview from Tbilisi.

Georgia has downed four Russian planes and 18 Russian soldiers have been killed, said Nogovitsyn.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said today that the Russian military operation was ``to a large extent complete,'' at a meeting with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently holds the EU presidency, may visit Russia tomorrow to try to negotiate a cease-fire in South Ossetia, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. EU intervention is crucial in ending the clashes because the U.S. is ``in a sense part of the conflict'' through its support of Saakashvili, Kouchner told France's RTL radio earlier today.

Kouchner, who met Saakashvili today in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, is also to travel to Moscow tomorrow to meet Medvedev and ``hopefully'' with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, he said.

Saakashvili said his government wanted to end the fighting.

``I signed a plan by Foreign Minister Kouchner and the French government about an immediate cease-fire,'' Saakashvili said today. ``I agreed with every point of it.''

President George W. Bush yesterday condemned the Russian bombings, which have continued even though Georgia says it complied with Russian demands to withdraw its troops from South Ossetia. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Russia's ``aggression'' would have ``serious consequences'' if it continued.

Shelling Peacekeepers

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov said today that Georgia still hasn't withdrawn all of its troops from the conflict zone and is periodically shelling Russia's peacekeepers.

Putin today rounded on the U.S. for its ``cynicism'' in transporting hundreds of Georgian troops back from Iraq to take part in the conflict. He accused U.S. officials of ``Cold War thinking'' in televised comments.

Heavy fighting began Aug. 7 in South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in a war in the early 1990s. Russia sent troops and tanks into the region the next day in what it said was a response to Georgia's assault on Russian citizens and peacekeeping forces. Most South Ossetian residents have Russian passports.

Medvedev yesterday denounced what he termed Georgian-waged ``genocide,'' saying there was evidence that people in South Ossetia have been killed by Georgian forces, set alight, crushed by tanks and had their throats cut. Russia says most of those killed in the conflict are civilians who died through Georgian military action.


Fighting heated up in Abkhazia, another separatist region which like South Ossetia is seeking independence from Georgia, threatening to disrupt a major energy transport route and helping push crude oil up from a 14-week low in New York.

Russian warships yesterday sank one Georgian ship off the coast of Abkhazia and fired on three others, said Nogovitsyn.

Abkhazia opened a second front with Georgia over the weekend, attacking its military presence in the upper Kodori Gorge and declaring a state of war. Russia has sent 9,000 troops in addition to a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force on the ground.

Georgia is a key link in the U.S.-backed ``southern energy corridor'' that connects the Caspian Sea region with world markets, bypassing Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

Georgia's financial regulators ordered the nation's banks to halt lending in response to the conflict with Russia.

Bank of Georgia, the largest bank in the former Soviet republic, suspended all lending as well as its Internet service for customer transactions until Aug. 18, according to a statement from the Tbilisi-based bank distributed by Business Wire today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at Hmeyer4 (at);


Please spread widely, General Joe

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