I separated the links from the other News and Stuff article. Because there are so many.

See my Links and Facts article for more general information about the conflict.


The British Telegraph reports that a bad translation of the cease-fire document in the war between Georgia and Russia prolonged the conflict. After the cease-fire was signed the Russians did not left Georgia as demanded by the agreement according to Georgia and the EU. The Russians created so called "buffer zones" around Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Telegraph now writes that the ceasefire – brokered by France – was written in French than translated into English and finally into Russian. Such an act can of course slightly change the meaning of the document. And the Georgians signed the English version and the Russians the Russian version. According to the Telegraph the meaning of the English version saying "security in Abkhazia and South Ossetia" was changed to "security for Abkhazia and South Ossetia". The later could be interpreted as the Russians did: By occupying Georgian territory.

Gary "War Nerd" Brecher published a new article on the conflict in Georgia titled Please Don’t Help the Georgians. The message is similar to my article Did Georgia Went For A Quick Military Defeat to Spare The Country and Its Economy?: Fighting a Guerilla War doesn’t necessarily is a good idea.

His articles covering the conflict:

There are a lot of questions unanswered about the war in Georgia/South Ossetia e.g. to what extend did the US influence Saak’ashvili decision to provoke Russia or did Russia provoke Georgia and so on. But one thing is note worthy in my opinion. Why did the Georgians put up such a bad resistance? Sure the Russians have more tanks, more man, more planes, more everything. But at least since the Soviet-Afghan war or Vietnam we know that even a small army can beat a superpower or at least try to get more favourable peace terms. Another good example even involving the Russians could of course be the . Finish Winter War of 1939. Ok, the neighbouring Chechnya is a bad example. First they kicked the Russians around and gained de facto independence but that was such a stain on Russian ego that as soon as the drunk Yeltsin was gone the new star on the Russian sky Putin went back in with a refreshed army and now all that is left of the independence is a small scale Guerilla war. And to be fair: The Russian army in the 90s was pretty lame. No money, no motivation and in disarray of new found separatism. The Russian army of this decade is much more serious.

Destroyed Georgian Tank in Tskhinvalli

A symbol of Georgia’s defeat: A Burned out Georgian
tank in Tskhinvali
Source: Wikimedia

But what we know what happened in Georgia was that the Georgians tried to offer a ceasefire as soon as the Russian tanks were rolling towards South Ossetia. They pulled back after some fighting in Tskhinvali and abandoned their positions and cities falling back towards the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The Russians didn’t go for Tbilisi and were satisfied with controlling the two strategically important cities of Gori and Poti (btw. does every city in Georgia ends with an i?). Gori sits on the roads and railway lines connecting east and west Georgia and Georgia with South Ossetia. Poti is a major harbour which was the base of the (small) Georgian Navy.

So it seems that the Georgians panicked when they saw all those Russian tanks coming for them and Saakashvili feared that they wanted to get him (We’ve all seen the video of him going for "cover" under a pile of bodyguards). Was he trying to protect himself and ordered his army to abandon the country and concentrate on protecting the capital?

And was this a good military decision? In a conventional way the Georgians never had a chance of defending themselves against the might of the Russian army. Even with those Israeli "tank killer" weapons allegedly used by the Georgians. But as history shows that a mighty army can be defeated by a smaller and badly (or at least less good) equipped troop.

In an open field battle the Russians could easily defeat the Georgians because they had the air superiority (the Georgians didn’t even have fighter jets!) and more tanks and troops. So defending against the Russians in an open terrain would be a dumb idea. But going into a city or mountainous terrain could nullify the Russian advantage in numbers. In such a situation the Israeli anti-tank weapons could be used to a great effect. And you could see that the Russians feared such a situation. They only entered Gori when the cease-fire was signed and they knew all Georgian troops had run away.

Roki Tunnel

Major mistake: the strategically vital
Roki Tunnel was not destroyed.
Source: Wikimedia

A dramatic failure for the Georgians was not to destroy the Roki Tunnel. The Roki Tunnel is the major connection between Russia and South Ossetia and thus is strategically important. If it had been destroyed the Russians were delayed in their actions. You have to know that the biggest problem of warfare is logistics. For every soldier in the field you have to supply ammunition, food, clothing, medicine, petrol for the vehicles and so on etc. Even with looting a modern army can’t supply themselves from the conquered territory anymore. And of course you have to evacuate wounded personal and so on. This needs a lot of planing and supply roads. So even if the Russians could fly in their troops with planes and use small mountain passes they probably had problems in supplying such a big force without a major road. The Georgians tried to attack the Tunnel and their were reports of it being damaged but obviously they failed to destroy it. The Russians even reported problems here which could have been exploited by the Georgians: Some Russian commanders claimed they had no air cover after leaving the tunnel and that broken down vehicles sometimes blocked the road.

Hezbollah Women with Rockets

A way to defend Georgia:
Hezbollahrising the War?
Source: ImageShack

I guess the best defence would have been a Guerilla style war. And I wonder why the Georgians never thought of that. At least they got some training in Anti-Guerilla warfare from the US days before the war. So they could have thought of doing something similar against the Russians. I mean it must have been clear that they can’t beat of the Russians in a traditional way. The 2006 Lebanon War is yet another example of a bad equipped group defeating a big and mighty army. Why did the Georgians ignored those examples?

Grozny in Ruins, 2006

Guerilla war, maybe not a good idea?
Grozny still in Ruins.
Source: Wikimedia

But on the other hand. Such a military way might enable the Georgians to defeat the Russians or at least getting some more favourable cease-fire terms. But it would be at a great cost. The Russians for example levelled the capital of Chechny Grozny to the ground in the Second Chechen War to avoid fighting in closed quarters. And the Roki Tunnel is of vital importance to the Georgian economy, too. Despite the conflict with Russia it is a major export partner for the Georgian economy. So at the end the Georgians lost the war. But they’ll be able to recover from it. Major parts of Grozny are still destroyed, the Chechen economy is poor and the population is a sitting duck between Moslem rebels and Russian soldiers. Afghanistan never recovered from their war against the Soviets, too. There is still war in the country. And the Hezbollah won against Israel but they don’t have to run the country.

Update: What a coincidence Danger Rooms runs a story with the title "Should Georgia Become a Black Sea Hezbollah?".

Here is a precise timeline of the war in Georgia. It contains pretty interesting information, e.g. a list of ambassadors meeting with Georgian representatives in the days before outbreak of the war.

Update: Cryptome has a list of military equipment purchased and used by Georgia.

Update 2: I made a more detailed list of links and facts about the War in Georgia/South Ossetia.

Both sides claim that the other side conducted "Ethnical Cleaning" of occupied territory. And probably both sides tell the truth.

The South Ossetians claim that the Georgians destroyed a water canal to flood the cellars in Tskhinvalli so that the citizens couldn’t take cover in them from the immense shelling in the first days of the conflict. The Georgians claim that behind the Russian troops Kossacks, Ossetians etc. followed and started looting and burning Georgian villages not only in South Ossetia but even in "undisputed" territory.

And that’s probably true. One reporter said "the Caucasus is an ethnical mosaic". And that brings it to the point. During the last 200 years (and before) the towns mixed and nobody really cared because they all were "Russians". So there were towns of Georgians in South Ossetia and vice-versa. The pictures of people shearing to Georgian troops moving into South Ossetia were not faked. Because Tskhinvalli has a mixed population and is surrounded by mostly Georgian villages. South Ossetia is supposed to have a 30% Georgian population and probably even more since it is hard to conduct an objective census. Each side wants to downplay the number of the other.

And as long as the people in the Caucasus are poor and have no work the people want to fight and die for their little towns and valleys. If you have nothing nationalism or rather townism or valleyism are the last thing you can hang onto. If you look at the problem: There is always fighting going on in this regions in August and may be September. That has simple reasons. First of all the snow and mud from the winter and spring is away. So you can move around without freezing off your ass or get stuck in mud. And it is the time when there isn’t much to do in farming. There are a lot of people without anything to do and due to the lack of all the modern equipment that entertains us in the western world and for the sheer fun of it all those young guys grab their AKs and head out to fight a little bit.

Each shootout ends in somebody wanting revenge. It’s an endless circle that feeds those conflicts. Not only in the Caucasus but everywhere in the world.

And than there are the Westerners thinking that you could solve those conflicts by drawing new borders and let everybody vote on were they want to be. This of course does not work in those regions because there are no ethnical borders! For example if South Ossetia is going to be independent or even a part of Russia than there will be the exact same conflict just with the opposite direction. The Georgian villages won’t stand to be separated from Georgia and keep on fighting. And if South Ossetia gets their independence than may be the North Ossetians want to be independent from Russia. Just because the Ossetians are kissing the ass of the Russians at the moment does not mean that in the next moments they’ll try to kick them. And alliance in such a mess doesn’t count. Its just the benefit they want.

There actually were some votes in South Ossetia about independence. But they were of course conducted in the way votes are conducted in these areas (even in our "democratic" pal Georgia it happens this way!): You just deny your opponents the ability to vote. In 2006 the South Ossetians votes with more than 90% for an independence. But this of course simply means shit.

And that’s were "Ethnical Cleaning" comes into play. If you want to pacify such an area you simply need to straiten out the ethnical borders (or even create them). You simply can’t have peace if the people living next to each other only wait for a good time to kill each other.

After declaring a cease-fire in the war in Georgia two days ago the Russian troops seem to finally pull back. Yesterday they still advanced towards Tiblisi but stopped for the night. A Georgian counter move was also pulled back.

The Russians destroyed weapons and military installations in Georgia including sinking several Ships in the military harbour in Poti. The Georgians claim, that these ships were non military Coast Guard Ships.

Now after the fighting is over the US is taking its first steps. They send Condi Rize and a C-17 Globemaster carrying supplies to Georgia and Bush ordered the US Navy to provide aid. A joint exercise by NATO and Russia in the Sea of Japan was also cancelled.

Russia claims that 74 Russian troops and about 2,000 civilians in South Ossetia died during the fighting.

Some pictures of the war from the Russian/South Ossetian side. The web site is in Russian so I can’t understand it.

But now after the cease-fire we will probably get some more information about the war. E.g. about the "black soldiers" claimed to be found by the Russians, the rumours about an Israeli tank killer weapon and even why the Georgians provoked the Russians into a war.

Update: Oh I forgot to set a title. Important is the "(temporary)". Even if the Russians and irregulars move out of Georgia and the EU installs a peacekeeping force it will only be temporary. As one reporter puts it “the Caucasus is an ethnical mosaic” and until they are all rich enough to don’t care they’ll always fight and die for their valley or town not belonging in the same country as the neighbouring town.