Ossetia-Georgia: war on the horizon?

11 07 2004 Sun. 22:18 Djokhar Time

Ossetia-Georgia: war on the horizon?

After America supported the peaceful transition of power from former
Georgian president Eduard Sheavrdnadze to young oppositional group headed by
charismatic leader Mikhail Saakashvili, US Secretary of State Colin Powell
called for immediate withdrawal of the Russian troops from Georgia and was
insisting that Georgia’s future must be free from Russian intervention.

Russia is worrying about it, figuring that the actions of the West are
interference into its domestic affairs, even though Moscow is missing the
fact that former Soviet republics are really former republics.

The latest events in Georgia have shown that the confrontation between
Georgia and its autonomy, South Ossetia, are unlikely to end just with angry
escapades or reciprocal invectives. If Russia gets involved in the active
confrontation, the danger that the war might spread towards the South
Caucasus will become very real.

Judging by Moscow’s first indirect reaction, the Kremlin will not be
standing aside if war operations in South Ossetia resume. But still, there
is no complete guarantee that Moscow made its final decision not to give up
that republic. So far you never know what pressure factors on Moscow
Washington may have yet.

Nevertheless, in Russia you can already hear some calls for integrating
South Ossetia into the Russian Federation. But Georgian central government
in Tbilisi is hoping for the Western states, which are for having Ossetian
autonomy as part of Georgia. Not only the West, which Georgia views as the
key arbitrator, is an intermediary in the exchange of views on the Ossetian

There is Turkey as well. Russian government does not trust the steps that
Turkey has been taking, such as «The Caucasus Security Agreement» signed by
Turkey and Georgia, which claims «with no superfluous diplomacy» (as Russian
sources put it) that not only Russia has the right to be present in the

It is a known fact that in order to retain their influence in the Caucasus,
Russians have been using the disagreements artificially fomented by Moscow,
and provoking interethnic conflicts. The hand of Moscow is clearly seen in
the conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia,
North Ossetia and Georgia (in South Ossetia), between Georgia, Abkhazia and
Adjaria, between Karachaevans and Cherkesians, etc.

Depending on the situation, the opposing sides are provided with mercenaries
and weapons borrowed from the Russian army. Russia is trying to retain its
influence and its military presence in the Caucasus while making someone
else do the work and making it look like Russia itself is standing aside.
All kinds of methods and options are used for that purpose.

Thus, Russia’s puppets in South Ossetia are already voicing the Kremlin’s
instructions that Russia is allegedly staying away from the Caucasus
problems and left their allies to the mercy of fate. According to Moscow’s
scenario, if war operations resume, South Ossetian breakaway government in
Tskhinvali will get assistance from unrecognized pro-Russian republics and
from a number of «subjects of the Russian Federation» in the North Caucasus.

North Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdniestria (de-facto independent pro-Russian
area near Moldova, Dniester River region), and Stavropol and Kuban Cossacks
(Southern Russia) will come to the rescue to help South Ossetia.

«South Ossetia has agreements about military aid with Abkhazia and
Transdniestria, as well as with Ters and Kuban Cossacks», Director of
Swedish-based Center for Strategic Research «Central Asia and the Caucasus»,
Murad Esenov, told RBC Daily.

President of Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic, Igor Smirnov, has already
made an official statement.

«In case of aggression we will not be standing aside, we will provide
comprehensive aid to our brothers, including military aid», Transdniestrian
leader told journalists.

Military storages in Transdniestria have huge amounts of ammunition, so the
help from Tiraspol (capital of Transdniestria) cannot be underestimated. So,
the new Georgian-Ossetian war may actually develop into an international
conflict right away.

Out of the latest events around South Ossetia we must also mention the
address of Tskhinvali’s leadership (South Ossetia) to Moscow with the appeal
to let the republic be integrated into Russia. Russian Council of Federation
reacted to this appeal. The Council of Federation `expressed concern with
the escalation of tensions and aggravation of the situation in the zone of
the Georgian-Ossetian conflict».

Russian parliamentarians mentioned that the «aggravation of the situation in
South Ossetia caused tension mounting all across the Caucasus» and offered
Georgian government in Tbilisi (Georgian capital) to «take all measures
necessary to implement the plans of combined control commission, dated June
2 this year». It should also be reminded that this is when the decision was
made to have Georgian troops pulled out of the territory of South Ossetia.

Speaking before the journalists, Chairman of the Council of Federation
Sergei Mironov stated that Russia is for Georgia’s territorial integrity,
but Russia still believes that all conflicts should be resolved peacefully.

Thus, on behalf of Moscow the Council of Federation virtually pointed
Georgia at the danger in changing the status quo of South Ossetia and the
danger in Georgia’s attempts to establish its control in that republic. It
means that South Ossetia still remains under the military patronage of

Ahmad of Ichkeria,
for Kavkaz-Center
2004-06-11 00:15:11