Russia May Declare South Ossetia And Abkhazia A Zone Of Its Vital In

Marina Perevozkina

July 16, 2008 Wednesday


AND SOUTH OSSETIA?; Authors of a classified report drawn by secret
services say peacekeepers should enforce the existing mandate with
more vigor and resolution.

Georgia recalled its ambassador in Moscow home "for
consultations". Preparations for a meeting between President Dmitry
Medvedev Enhanced Coverage LinkingDmitry Medvedev -Search using:
Biographies Plus News News, Most Recent 60 Days and his Georgian
counterpart, Mikhail Saakashvili, are suspended. Georgia insists
on an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the
violation of its borders by Russian aircraft. The Russian-Georgian
deteriorate against the background of Tbilisi’s preparations for a
military operation in South Ossetia and Russian army maneuvers near
the Georgian border…

Erosi Kistmarishvili, Georgian Ambassador to Russia, rushed to Tbilisi
for consultations. It happened as soon as the Russian Foreign Ministry
owned up to the aircraft that had flown over South Ossetia on July
8. As far as the Russian Foreign Ministry is concerned, their flight
prevented a nasty turn of events into a shooting war which Moscow
estimated as "quite possible".

Instant Response’2008 is taking place in Vaziani, 30 clicks from
Tbilisi, meanwhile. Units of the US National Guard and personnel
of regular armies of Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are
involved. The Russian Defense Ministry in its turn launched a major
military exercise near the Russian-Georgian border on the territory of
the Southern Federal Region. According to Caucasus Military District
Commander, Sergei Makarov, the involved units practice action in
a deteriorating situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Makarov
completed his statement by assurances that his troops were ready to
reinforce peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"I’ve known that Georgia has prepared a military operation since May
14," South Ossetian Interior Minister, Mikhail Mindzayev, said. "The
Georgians moved troops to the border and built fortifications. On
July 8, they set up command posts which betrayed their absolute
readiness. Were it not for the Russian aircraft, the hostilities
would have begun that day. Georgian peacekeepers take no more orders
from the Collective Peacekeeping Forces command. Nobody knows their
manpower or firepower anymore. They establish checkpoints hoisting
peacekeepers’ flags there but they are checkpoints of the Georgian
Defense Ministry…"

Dmitry Medoyev, Plenipotentiary Representative of South Ossetia
in Moscow, suggested that peacekeepers might find antiaircraft
complexes handy and called for reinforcement of Russian and Ossetian
battalions in the conflict area. "The mandate permits 800 servicemen,"
Medoyev said and recalled that each battalion included only 500 men
now. According to Medoyev, the attack on Tskhinvali was scheduled to
begin at 1800 hours on July 8. "Active preparations for the invasion
have been under way since July 3 when the Georgians faked attempt
on the life of Dmitry Sanakoyev and overrun the Sarabuk height under
this pretext," Medoyev said. "That very evening they had heavy armored
fighting vehicles on all roundabout roads and pillboxes and weapons
emplacements along them. Servicemen there got their bearings during
nocturnal strafings of Tskhinvali. Artillery pieces needed only the
order to commence firing. Russian aircraft flew over their positions
at a low altitude, showed their decals, made a turn, and feigned the
intention to go in low and strafe them. The Georgians scattered. It
was a banzai attack by aircraft loaded with ordnance."

Russia in the meanwhile has some other aces up its sleeve, ones that
may avert a negative turn of events in the region. This newspaper
laid its hands on a classified report secret services had had their
analysts draw to acquaint the Security Committee of the Duma at
a closed meeting this spring. Analysis of the situation in the
Georgian-Ossetian conflict area suggests that Russia is facing a
dilemma. It may "seize the initiative" or "… passively wait for
the situation to deteriorate and take a resolute action only when
the shooting war is already under way."

"Reacting to the adversary and its strategy… is always the
worst option," authors of the report stated. Moreover, the report
appraised low efficiency of peacekeepers as one of the worst
problems. "Regrettably, the peacekeeping command turned out to be
unable to rapidly respond to new threats and challenges generated by
the new Georgian regime… This passiveness resulted in almost total
withdrawal of peacekeeper checkpoints from the Georgian territory
of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area. Russian and Ossetian
battalions are all but isolated in their quarters. Initiative in
the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area is almost fully in the hands of
the Georgian Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry. Functions of
peacekeepers are reduced to passive monitoring."

Authors of the report strongly recommend a higher security regime in
some districts where peacekeepers will be the only law enforcers and
"a radical revision of the strategy and tactic of the peacekeeping
operations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for a more resolute
application of the existing mandate."

Authors of the report recommend "a declaration of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia as the zone of Russian vital interests and interests of its
national security with all its implications."