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Swarms of Russian jets bomb Georgian targets

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by zrinkill, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - Swarms of Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory Monday and Georgia faced the threat of a second front of fighting as Russia demanded that Georgia disarm troops near the breakaway province of Abkhazia.

    While a senior Russian general insisted that Russia has no plans to press further into Georgian territory—its troops are now in two breakaway provinces—the order to disarm carried the threat that Russian-sponsored fighting would spread.

    The new air forays into Georgia—even as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on signed a cease-fire pledge—appeared to show Russian determination to subdue the small, U.S.-backed country, which has been pressing for NATO membership. Russia fended off a wave of international calls to observe Georgia's pleas for a truce, saying it must first be assured of Georgia's retreat from South Ossetia.

    The United States is campaigning to get Russia to halt its retaliation and American officials have accused Russia of using the fighting to try to overthrow the Georgian government. President Bush, who has encouraged Georgia's efforts to join NATO, said he spoke with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Russian president.

    "I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia," Bush said in an interview with NBC Sports.

    In turn, Putin criticized the United States for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday at Georgia's request.

    "It's a pity that some of our partners instead of helping are in fact trying to get in the way," Putin said at a Cabinet meeting. "I mean among other things the United States airlifting Georgia's military contingent from Iraq effectively into the conflict zone."

    A two-front battlefield would be a major escalation in the conflict, which blew up Friday after a Georgian offensive to regain control of separatist South Ossetia.

    Most Georgian troops are near South Ossetia, in the center of the country along its northern border with Russia, which would make it difficult for Georgia to repel an offensive from Abkhazia, in the west along the Black Sea.

    International envoys flew into the region late Sunday and the U.N. Security Council met for the fourth time in as many days to try to end the conflict before it spreads throughout the volatile Caucasus.

    In Tbilisi, Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge Monday proposed by the French and Finnish foreign ministers. The EU envoys plan to travel from Tbilisi to Moscow later Monday to try to persuade Russia to accept it.

    Saakashvili had ordered the halt Sunday after overwhelming Russian firepower blasted his troops out of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, but Russian officials said they saw no cease-fire on the ground.

    In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia has completed "a large part of efforts to force Georgian authorities to peace in South Ossetia," a statement that suggests Moscow could accept the proposed cease-fire.

    Saakashvili, however, voiced concern that Russia's true goal was to undermine his pro-Western government. "It's all about the independence and democracy of Georgia," he said during a conference call.

    At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday, Russia's ambassador to the United Nationa, Vitaly Churkin, acknowledged there were occasions when elected leaders "become an obstacle."

    Saakashvili said Russia has sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia—with some troops getting within three miles of Gori, located just outside South Ossetia, before being repulsed Sunday.

    Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s.

    Both separatist provinces have close ties with Moscow, while Georgia has deeply angered Russia by wanting to join NATO.

    Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia overnight Friday with heavy shelling and air strikes that ravaged the city of Tskhinvali. The Russia response was swift and overpowering—thousands of troops that shelled the Georgians until they fled Tskhinvali on Sunday, and air attacks across Georgia, some on facilities far from the site of the fighting.

    The Georgian president said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems and targeting Tbilisi's civilian airport. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area only a half hour before the EU envoys arrived, he said.

    Another hit near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported.

    While not addressing reports of the incursion near Gori, Nogovitsyn, the Russian general, said Russia had no intention to move deeper into Georgia. "We aren't planning any offensive," he said.

    Saakashvili later drove to the outskirts of Gori, a town where scores of people were killed in an Russian attack Saturday. He was joining French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who had just completed a tour of the destroyed buildings.

    As the Georgian president spoke to reporters next to his SUV, a member of his security team shouted "cover him!" Saakashvili was torn away by bodyguards and pushed to the ground. They piled extra flak jackets on top of him.

    Fearing an air raid, onlookers fled, looking skyward and screaming. No jets were seen or heard.

    Kouchner had left seconds before the panic.

    "This a misfortune, this is impossible to support," Kouchner said after touring Gori. "That's why we not only have to denounce this, but we have to work to stop the fight."

    Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people had been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled the city said hundreds were killed.

    Thousands of civilians have fled South Ossetia—many seeking shelter in the neighboring Russian province of North Ossetia.

    "The Georgians burned all of our homes," said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors of the fighting. "The Georgians say it is their land. Where is our land, then?"

    Nogovitsyn said on Russian television Monday that Russia demanded Georgia disarm police in Zugdidi, a town just outside Abkhazia, but did not say what would happen if they do not.

    Abkhazia's Russian-supported separatist government called out the army and reservists on Sunday and declared it would push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control.

    A Russian commander said 9,000 additional Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles had arrived in Abkhazia.

    Nogovitsyn also said Russian ships deployed to Georgia's Black Sea coast sank one of four Georgian patrol boats that came close Sunday—a report rejected by Georgian Coast Guard chief David Golua.

    In New York, the U.N. Security Council met for the fourth time Sunday in four days to discuss the crisis. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Moscow of seeking "regime change" in Georgia and resisting attempts to make peace.


  2. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    You know, much as the tradgedy of Katrina was actually worsened by a sensation-obsessed media (i.e. shooting at rescue workers, mass riots/murders at the Georgia dome) that turned out to be utter nonsense, the same could happen here.

    Yes, Russian jets are bombing Georgian positions, and some apartments have been hit along with an international airport. But from what I can tell, much of the reports from BOTH sides are highly inflated and distorted, with both trying to win the PR war ahead of the real one. Putin raged on about Georgian soldiers beheding civillian women and crushing children under their tanks. Georgians, for their part, are fleeing in a panic towards the capital for a last stand from.....massive Russian ground forces that have yet to materialize for any of the media traveling with them.

    My point is it is a mess over there - but let's make sure we don't let emotion completely overwhelm reason here. I see that happening, unfortunately, on both sides. Does anybody even remember who Franz Ferdinand was? Or the Black Hand Society? By 1915, nobody did.

    I wish, oh I wish I had a crystal ball to see the truth here - Russia's true intentions, tactically that is. We know they cringe at Western influence in the region, but what was their intention *here*, in *this* conflict all along? Why were they building up forces *ahead* of this flare-up? Did they invite this? Did *their* forces shell Georgian positions and were hit by return fire, killing some of their peacekeepers? Did Georgia engage in wholesale slaughter of Ossetians in response? So many questions and no answers yet.

    I'll say it again, this is a potential political blunder for Russia. The longer this goes on, the more sympathy will mount for Georgia. After all, the image of what is left of that nation huddling around their president in the capital, resolving to resist the Russian advance to the bitter end will tug at a lot of heart strings. Mine included.
  3. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    This is already a big mistake by Russia- but do the Europeans and the rest of the world have the guts to make them pay? This could start to resemble post 1936 Europe.... expansionist country with a leader (lets face it we know this is Putin) out to regain RESPECT and ENSURE its security....
  4. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    Ya might wanna look into those Putin eyes again there, Dubya - and this time... ask him to please remove those KGB shades.
  5. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Putin is a sociopath. Those guys can appear really normal for a while untill their true nature comes out. He fooled a lot of Libs more then GW.
  6. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    GW: "I looked into his eyes - and saw his soul.

    Which I promptly swallowed."
  7. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    In spite of my attempt at rationality, it doesn't seem to appear the Russians share it. Repeated calls for cease-fires, the original objective met long ago, Georgia meeting one demand after another (all within their own sovereign territory, mind you). Russia alternately denies any "official" word of a cease-fire or says demands met are suddenly "not good enough" and new demands issued. Now there seem to be no demands, just continued assault as more forces pour in. Putin mentioned this will go on until its "logical conclusion" - his own words. I dunno, perhaps yet another quote from the new Batman movie.... "...some men can't be bought, bribed or reasoned with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."
  8. neosapien23

    neosapien23 Well-Known Member

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    What??? Not a man who continues to crush freedom in his own country, is a former KGB agent, and refuses to give up the presidency.
  9. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Damn, another Batman reference (OK I suck, I admit it, but I actually liked the movie)...

    Is it time we not be a hero? But be more? Make the tough choice? OK, I'll stop now. And no, I'm not a comic book dork - just liked the movie. For the most part at least... :cool:

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