U.S.-Russia Relations in the Aftermath of the Georgia Crisis

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 10, 2008
Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried

Yesterday, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried testified on U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis. We know DipNote's readers are interested in the subject and thought you would want to read what Assistant Secretary Fried said:

"Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you today the implications of Russia’s attack on Georgia.

On June 18, in testimony before this Committee, I outlined a series of examples of increasing Russian pressure on Georgia and expressed concern that these activities risked igniting a wider conflict.

Today, with regret, I must report to you that these concerns have been realized. Russia's intensified pressure and provocations against Georgia -- combined with a serious Georgian miscalculation -- have resulted not only in armed conflict, but in an ongoing Russian attempt to dismember that country.

The causes of this conflict -- particularly the dispute between Georgia and its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- are complex, and all sides made mistakes and miscalculations. But key facts are clear: Russia sent its army across an internationally recognized boundary, to attempt to change by force the borders of a country with a democratically-elected government and, if possible, overthrow that government -- not to relieve humanitarian pressures on Russian citizens, as it claimed.

This is the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union that Moscow has sent its military across an international frontier in such circumstances, and this is Moscow's first attempt to change the borders that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union. This is a troubling and dangerous act.

Today I will seek to explain how we got here, how we're responding, and the implications for our relationship with Russia."

Read the continuation of Assistant Secretary Fried's statement.



September 16, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov

Although there is a global financial crisis that will undermine the strength of my argumentation due to the psychological climate that has been created, I feel like writing back to you some facts.

As always, you have constructed a puzzle of debatable parameters and you present it as given. If I were in the outer space reading your post, without having a clear view, I would think that U.S.A. died and chaos is everywhere in the country.

However, according to my views it's not like this.

1.What the federal administration has to do with the Lehman Bros bankruptcy? It's a free market that functions under capitalistic rules. From time to time, such problems unfortunately occur. However, I feel that the Bush Administration will also give a solution as they did recently with the other financial cases.

2.I do not know that the federal government is technically bankrupt as you say. If you have any completed pack of evidence, call the FBI. But you don't have.

3.Concerning Mr. Cheney, as always "you blame everything on Cheney". This tactic becomes ridiculous! So, I won't comment on that. We all know why some circles attack the Vice President on a regular basis. Because of his religious preference. All of which make these attacks against him even more ridiculous. (note: that I am a Christian, having no religion reason to defend the VP, but I am not an idiot to believe the "for everything blame Cheney" strategy. I believe in religious tolerance, as well as in the Right that anyone has to be an American and Hebrew or an American and whatever he chooses to be his religion.)

4. You say that we have the same America we had in 1950. I am not that old to know, but I think that we have a modern, updated, democratic America of the new millennium. Things change and you must follow these changes. Plenty of times you are referring to the Constitution. Although the Constitution is really and trully inspired and its writers will always remain as the Greatest minds of the New World, do not be so sure that if they were alive would write the Amendments the same exactly way. Things have changed, especially after 9/11, but unfortunately, obviously, you do not believe that there is terrorism on the planet, being sure that 9/11 was a conspiracy event. That's why we do not have the same debate basis when we post things.

5.You say that you are treated like a suspected terrorist at the airports. What's your suggestion? To open up the borders and permit every religion holly-fighter and ex-KGB's today mafias enter the country and put some more bombs. Sorry, Zharkov, but this security procedure is for your own safety. After 9/11 many "goodwillers" told that GW was not able to secure the country. After 9/11 we had no more hits. This is due to security measures and GW's policy. So next time, waiting on the security line, relax and think that at least you are still alive and not a terrorist victim.

a. What's your problem with city cameras. Do you have anything to hide. I don't.
b. What's your problem when the government knows your financial status. You are obliged to offer these info. First, (security reasons) the government should know where these money come from and second, it's a question of taxing. When someone believes that the gov should have no financial records of him? When he breaks the law (I do not mean you).
c. You say that you have no communication privacy? I think that the two of us right now have a descent communication full of privacy. But even if we have not, what's the problem as long as we do not plan or doing anything illegal?
d. You say that you have no right to international travel without prior government permission in the form of a tax clearance and passport. I don't understand your concept. How should you travel abroad? Without an extremely intelligent passport? This is for your own safety again concerning various levels of probable problems that may occur to you outside the country. After all, the State has the right to know who is a legal American citizen and who is not.

Concerning the tax clearance, everybody understands that whoever owes money to the country can easily think of getting the "honey" and continue his life in a tropical island by the sea. You cannot permit someone who owes 1M$ in taxes to leave the "desk".

7.You say that this Administration should be sitting in prison. Please allow me to characterize your thesis as childish. This is a legally and democratically elected government. Remember? It's not a junta! So you cannot blame all these people, because you personally do not like their decisions. The way you think Z, you "jail" Democracy.

8.Russia invaded Georgia and not Georgia Russia (see also Eric's comments about rapes, killings etc.)

Reaching this point, let me finish with a "joke" (my joke, not from Pravda):

Do you know when Russia stopped being a Fed?

When they run out of tanks!

New Mexico, USA
September 16, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece, please note my post of Sept 15..."Zharkov's M.O."

I suggest we not allow him to change subjects and take the thread off topic when he can't face facts.


United States
September 16, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Eric's M.O. is to attack the messenger when he can't debate the message. Stay with the trivia rather than deal with federal servitude, Eric, if that makes your day.

John in Greece isn't buying a ticket to live in American anytime soon, despite his praise for our tyrannical government. Say John, do you have to give your thumbprint to buy a glass of ouzo?

September 16, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Roger & Clear partner! (joking)

I have already read your post Eric. As always, your "Z" analysis is fine with me. I totally agree!

However, Blog's visitors will think that we are attempting to create a "conspiracy team", against Zharkov and his ideas (Chuckle & LOL!). All of which is fantasy like his cartoon hero.

And now after this comment of yours and my reply, Zharkov will start saying that the whole "Government" and "secret enemies" are trying to close his mouth? (Chuckle & LOL again!).

All of which is bull?t, because if we had such a tendency, we wouldn't write all these, as we do right now.

How can I stop him from changing subjects?

I can't.

And after all, he has every right to post things the way he thinks that he thinks. After all, as long as SD permits him to do so, who I am to stop him from doing so? In this case, let me paraphrase with all respect to God:
IN "SD we trust!". They know better than both of us!

If you mean that I should not answer him (keeping him "concentrating"), in order for him to keep on commenting on his previous "debating debts.", I assure you that he wouldn't.

HE WOULD CHANGE SUBJECT ANYWAY. When the tough gets going, Z is changing the subject. However, as you wisely analyzed: he does not change his tactic.

The only way to face these tactics in a democratic way is by making your pen (keyboard), even stronger than his pencil. Because, your keyboard Eric is an "N"pen (if you know what I mean) Chuckle!

September 16, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov

I do not drink ouzo buddy!
I prefer Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam, because I'm spiritual.

P.S. do you know that ouzo is an aperitif? I prefer "spirits"! You prefer "meals&honey",... that's why you think of aperitifs. Concerning if I'm buying a ticket to the New World, I think that Eric is EXTREMELY right: it becomes more than a tactik of yours to change subgects. But now you make it a "cheap" argumentation!

New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John, I'm simply suggesting we not feed the troll under the bridge.

DoS has its moderators, but maintaining an on-topic discussion is a matter of personal dicipline as well, and it starts with the contributors like us.

It's certainly not undemocratic to simply ignore an off topic diatribe...

But do what you will bro, it's keeping me amused to say the least.....(chuckle).

I don't suppose you've read the transcript of telephone intercepts regarding Russian troop movements into S.Ossetia? New York Times today has them published on (pdf) format, along with detail about how they were obtained.

In short, they provide at least a measure of credible evidence that Russian armor was moving into S. Ossetia prior to when the Russians say it was moved in as a "response" to Georgian attack.

In other words, it appears that Georgia knew Russian armor and troops were coming into S. Ossetia before they ever opened fire.

Putting Russia's on the record statements by its President and Prime minister in serious doubt as to their truthfulness.

P.S. I've got nothing against Zharkov personally, for everyone is entitled to self delusion. But as a professional hack he's just not cutting the mustard, and he might lose his job on my account if he can't succesfully rebut the evidence I've presented.

(I can't imagine that anyone would post lies for free, so I suspect there a paycheck involved.)

I'm also deeply concerned that I won't be able to use his arguments as cannon fodder for mine if he goes missing in action....(chuckle).

So let's encorage him to stay on topic, shall we??

Besides which, it wouldn't pass as conspiracy to encorage him to stick by the rules of discussion as outlined by Dipnote staff.

He can whine about it to his heart's content for all I care. It'll only go worse for him.

United States
September 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

I answered your question, John, about what works right in America. When I get nonsense replies, I move on to a related topic. As you can see, we are really good at spending other peoples money and denying reality that we are broke, hence national bankruptcy is already here.

Just curious, do you prefer the taste of State Department patent leather or old Army spit-shine?

New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Conversation between the duty officer at the Roki Tunnel and a border guard at
headquarters in Tskhinvali, intercepted Aug. 7 2008, 03:41.09.
BORDER GUARD: I'm listening.
DUTY OFFICER: Topol, the commander, a colonel, approached and said, "The guys
with you should check the vehicles." Is that O.K.?
BG: With you?
DO.: Yes.
BG: I don't know. I'll ask. And who is the colonel?
DO: I don't know. Their superior, the one in charge there. The BMPs [armored personnel
carriers] and other vehicles were sent here and they've crowded there. The guys are also
standing around. And he said that we should inspect the vehicles. I don't know. And he
went out.
BG: I'll check on this. Give me a call a little later.
DO: O.K., fine.
Conversation between the border guard at headquarters in Tskhinvali, and the duty
officer at the Roki Tunnel, intercepted Aug. 7, 2008, 03:52.13.
DUTY OFFICER: I'm listening?
DO: What?
BG: Did you just call?
DO: Yes.
BG: What is your surname?
DO: Gassiev
BG: Gassiev.
DO: Yes?
BG: Listen, has the armor arrived or what?
DO: The armor and people.
BG: They've gone through?
DO: Yes, 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.
BG: Was there a lot of armor?
DO: Yes. Tanks, BMPs and BDR(m)s. Everything.
BG: And that guy who came up to you, who was that?
DO: When? [INAUDIBLE] The surname is Kazachenko. He's a colonel.
BG: What?
DO: Kazachenko is his surname. He's a colonel.
BG: Good, good. O.K. Call the 103rd; he's saying something different. I mean the 102nd.
You are saying one thing, and he is telling us something else. Call the 102nd and tell him.
DO: He just called me, and I told him everything.
BG: Well, call him anyway, and after that have him call me.
DO: O.K., understood.
BG: Bye.
Conversation between a North Ossetian peacekeeper and a senior military observer of
the North Ossetian peacekeeping force, intercepted Aug. 8, 2008, 03:02.10.
PK: (Aside) Hook up your radios or else we're all going to be [expletive deleted].
MO: What did you turn on?
PK: No, I'm not talking to you. (Aside): Yes, otherwise we'll be [expletive deleted]?
MO: Hey, listen, I'm asking, how are you?
PK: Well, [expletive deleted], [expletive deleted]. But we'll come up with something.
MO: How far have they come?
PK: They are coming up gradually from everywhere.
MO: And do they have aircraft?
PK: Yes, yes. We'll figure out how to deal with them.
MO: O.K., O.K. And those who came through the tunnel, have they arrived?
PK: No. They haven't arrived yet, but they are on their way; they are close.
MO: O.K., fine. Bye.
Conversation between the Ossetian border guard duty officer at the Roki Tunnel and
an official of the South Ossetian Border Guard Service in Tskhinvali, intercepted Aug.
8, 2008, 03:12.32.
OBG: Who am I?
SOO: Ahh, Edik.
OBG: Yeah?
SOO: Well, what's going on? Has anyone finally gotten down there?
OBG: Gotten down where?
SOO: Has anyone gotten down there to our side with equipment?
OBG: Yes, yes, don't speak about this over the phone?
SOO: Is anything moving? Is the armor there?
OBG: Yes, yes, yes, everything is there?
SOO: How long is it going to take them? What? Are they going to arrive when the city is
already [expletive deleted] destroyed?
OBG: Don't be afraid. Keep firing.
SOO: Who do you want me to shoot? It's impossible to go outside. I'm standing in the
toilet on one leg.
OBG: (Laughing) Well then fart them out of there. (Phone rings) O.K., talk to you later.
SOO: You call us for God's sake.
OBG: They've left already.
SOO: And?
OBG: They are heading there.
SOO: Many of them?
OBG: Yes.
Conversation between the head of North Ossetian peacekeeping unit in Znauri and his
subordinate, location unknown, intercepted Aug. 8, 2008, 05:22.36.
SUBORDINATE: How are you doing there? Say something, Commander.
O: How are we? We're sitting?
S: In short, the equipment, tanks, a [expletive deleted] hell of a lot, they've left Java.
O: Who?
S: Russia
O: Where are they? Where, damn it?
S: They have left Java. There are about 100 of them.
O: Well and where are they? They've really [expletive deleted] us up here. The bastards
have done anything they want.
S: The same in the city. They've bombed us with Grads [rockets].
O: And we can't return fire? [Expletive deleted]!
S: What do you want me to [expletive deleted] tell you?
O: Is this 100 percent what you're saying?
S: Yes. We're in contact with the guys in Java, and they are also calling. They said that
they have passed through the center of Java.
O: Are they coming here?
S: Where else would they go?
O: [Expletive deleted] if I know. Do they have Grads? They're using Grads; there's
nothing they can't do, and what the [expletive deleted] are you doing to them?
S: They say there are 100 units if not more. They've already passed through Java, so
encourage the boys.
O: Fine, O.K. Bye.

New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

NYT article:

Full transcript of intercepts:


@ Zharkov, I may be hard on you....but you give DoS and the US gov so much grief on moral grounds, I gotta wonder how you will feel when you finaly wake up and realize you've been supporting war criminals in public for weeks now?

I did try to warn you. And maybe you'll thank me later for trying to save you some lasting regret.

September 17, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric -- GREAT proofs Eric that Russia invaded Georgia! And I think that we will have even more very soon!

After this checkmate of yours, the only "problem" that we will have to face from Zharkov is that he will come up with a comment like this:

"Zharkov in U.S.A. @ Eric in New Mexico
This is a federal conspiracy. Cheney had paid the soldiers, a year ago, to have these dialogues, because he new the scenario in Ossetia. We all know that Russia is a peaceful country that never invaded any nation during its long history. Nevertheless we invade ourselves daily by destroying American life"

Then (I have nothing personal with Z too. On the contrary I believe that he is the soul of the Blog) HE WILL CHANGE SUBJECT and he will continue with something like this:

"You must know Eric that our tyrannical government which is the worst since WW2 has created a huge Big Brother watching us 24h/d 7d/week. In case you don?t know the quality of beverages and soda we drink, I inform you that it's the worst in 35 years, due to the bad job of the Bush Administration. So what are we good at NOW? Destroying ourselves and Soda water supplies? What SD people, paid from taxpayers, do about Soda?"

Then he will turn to me like this:
"Zharkov @ John in Greece
John you do not live here. That's why you cannot understand that our federal government creates only PROHIBITIONS. If you were here and dared (because there are cameras everywhere) to stop by a liqueur store in order to buy a bottle of vodka you would be obliged to make plenty of Uturns. Do you know why this happens? Because letter U is the only vowel in the name Bush.
However, in our Constitution there were no Amendments concerning traffic-signs. This is why America dies".

P.S.: Z we are waiting for your reply. Not to me! To Eric's proofs concerning the Russian invasion to Georgia...

United States
September 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

As a Republican voter, I voted twice for war criminals, so I am not ashamed to admit it.

The intercepts don't tell me much other than Russian armor moved into South Ossetia early in the fighting, which I already knew. The Russians keep a close eye on the former Soviet regions and know what they will do before their own people do sometimes. Russian leaders are not blaming the US as much as they would if they were convinced the US had instigated the attack. I think they have their own intercepts which implicate Israeli participation in the decision to attack.

The Georgian side claims it's peacekeepers were shot at by South Ossetian citizens and returned fire, which triggered the Russian response. The Russian side claims the Georgian peacekeepers suddenly began shooting their fellow Russian peacekeepers for no reason and stabbed several in the back with knives.

The intercepts I am interested in are between Saakashvili and US handlers, and between Saakashvili and Iraeli officials. If you can post these, it might tell us more about who started it and why. They are classified, no doubt, but should be made public so we all can know what happened.

Currently, I suspect the Israeli side advised Saakashvili to take South Ossetia by force. This would be consistent with Mossad operations in the past. Having read about Secretary Rice's argument with Cheney, I think she wasn't the one responsible.

I also think, once again, we have Israeli hands working where they don't belong. Not only is Georgia home for double agents, their other day job is working for the Mossad. Israel can drag us into several wars if it chooses, and that arrangement should be ended.

Until someone proves conclusively that the initial shooting was a Russia operation, I'll believe their side of the story about Saakashvili starting this mess because our side's stories have changed too many times.

September 17, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov

I AM NOT a Mossad -- (period) Are you a new KGB? Maybe it's my fault that you changed subject (AGAIN). I referred to Cheney and you took the whole story to Israel. Obviously, Cheney is a PROHIBITED word according to your "politic esthetics".

You are a real talent in changing subjects.

If I was referring a little bit more to GW you would "drive" the story to Texas? fetching some Mexican debate help?.

No more jokes (for now). I HAVE A SERIOUS, SINCERE QUESTION: Whoever can help my query by commending is extremely welcome!

What Israel has to do with Ossetia?

If the story was about an Israeli conspiracy happening in Syria, in order for them to invade Iran, or something near them, it may had some sense. Nevertheless, there is a physical-geographical distance between Israel and Georgia, according to my knowledge.

What you describe Zharkov is like Greece has a conspiracy "schedule" for something in New Zeeland. All of which does not and cannot happen due to geographical reasons.

So, you make no sense.


Kentucky, USA
September 18, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Zharkov in USA
Eric in New Mexico
John in Greece

Fellows, descending into personal attacks against each other's personal stances doesn't do this blog, or yourselves, justice. You're certainly entitled to your own opinions and free to debate them, but let's face reality: Each of you have your own view you've constructed by your own values and with out the willingness to entertain another person's position, you'll just waste time with petty bickering. Each of you feel the world is a certain way, as you see it, and those that have a different view are wrong. You may try proclaim that you're more open minded than that, but a careful study of your posts will show a particular stubbornness regarding dissenting opinions. Not one of us has the monopoly on the "truth." We each only see a facet of the gem and to assert that facet is the ultimate reality is only so much arrogance, a small step away from ignorance. We also have a life-long collection of "facts" that help support our view, but even if we were to lay out every single one of those facts to another person, the picture that we were trying to convey would only become transformed into something else by their own value matrix and, as humans, we also have a tendency to ignore or just plain not notice the facts that contradict our own constructed reality. Can it be that each of you are all at least somewhat "right" according to your own collection of data? That is more probable than one of you being "right" and everyone else being "wrong", except when they agree with you.

Are you familiar with the term "hardening of the categories?" It refers to the common analytical folly of seeing things a certain way for so long that everything the analyst sees fits that pre-conceived pattern (or rut) despite evidence that may point to a different picture. The moment we become convinced that we are absolutely correct in our opinions, rather than just considering the probabilities of accuracy, then we have surely blinded ourselves.

Trying to debate another person's version of reality, no matter how different from our own, is a profitless venture. Instead, let's come to a consensus about the next right action, one that does the best for everyone.

In this Russia/Georgia/U.S. scenario, all of your are a little bit right about who is to blame, but each of you are a little bit wrong about who is innocent. The fact is, everybody is "to blame" because we are all actors that participated in this event. It's a simple matter of multiple entwined powers clashing over a plot of land and all the strategic value it contains. Nothing more and nothing less, the preoccupation over who was "right" or "wrong" in what they did is a futile effort: each actor felt completely justified in their own actions.

The current evidence points to the likelihood that Russia had already amassed a presence at the border and had planned all along to invade Georgia.

I say: yeah, so what?

For those who say that Russia broke "the rules," I say that people, and countries, only abide by the rules when it doesn't interfere with their own quest for power and the consequences of breaking them is greater than the profit gained. Rules only have meaning when they are enforceable. And even an honest man will steal bread if hungry enough.

Perhaps Georgia should have used a more adroit strategy when dealing with S. Ossetia and Russia than a military build-up? But a look at their recent history shows that they are virtual infants of diplomacy, and their political parties are barely more than organized criminal factions clinging to a shred of legitimacy. It seems fair to say that their concept of soft power is still developing. Their own democracy hasn't even stabilized yet.

The real question is how do we take the results of this encounter and make it work for our advantage. Look at the factors that propelled each actor along their path and then use those factors to re-calibrate our policy.

How should the events between Russia and Georgia affect our relationship with Russia? Not at all.

If we can't dissuade Russia from taking actions that are detrimental to our own interests, then we have failed in our diplomacy and need to change our strategy. Find the lever that does work. If we can't limit Russia's territorial ambitions, either through diplomacy or force, then we shouldn't invest in places so close to their grasp. If a nation is unable to balance the interests of the region, by dissuade stronger nations from attacking, and convincing smaller powers to join them, then they are unworthy allies and will only damage us by association. Russia is still the major power in Eastern Europe, if we wish to influence their actions, we must remain on good terms. As people, we only take advice from those who wish us well, not those that repeatedly work against our own aims.

New Mexico, USA
September 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk, leave me out of your little list, and don't go moralizing on my participation...I understand the point your're trying to make, and I hope you understood the point I tried to make to Zharkov. (Wed Sept 17 post).

Kirk....have you ever heard of "tough love?" (chuckle).

Look, The facts are the facts, I posted them for all to see, and totally in correctness in asking that folks stay on topic.

Rules of discussion being what they are.

See, you may not understand New Mexican humor, or the fact that working on construction crews most of my life has taught me to take heat and stay in the kitchen with good grace.

I am targeting the message....and I think if you did the back check through the archives, you'd find my assesment of Zharkov's M.O. is absolutly on target.

And I have no problem pointing it out.

You right though, I'm probably wasting my breath....(chuckle).

Political probability theory is an art form.

I deal with probability every day. Thing is, I generally qualify my statements if if evidence is not a "given".

"In my opinion", or "I think", or "I believe" are qualifications of statement.

If one posts something false, proven false by the evidence, and knowingly so, then it becomes a falsehood, or generally speaking...a lie.

So again, in the interests of ariving at the truth, I call statement and author to account on those grounds.

Any day of the week.

Without regret.

So no, I disagree with your generic assumption that everyone is to blame for what happened in Georgia.

Especially when a government is caught lying about their involvement as Russia is looking like it did lie through their teeth.

They have a lot to hide apparently.

The forensics are still being done. There some 6000 pages of intercepts to pour though by raw analysis and we'll be hearing more about this as time goes on.

Let me ask you this...

What do you make of the transcript I posted?

(trying to keep things on track here.)

New Mexico, USA
September 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk, forgot to mention one thing...

You give a fair analysis (but not complete) of Russian inerworkings in your last post.

What we are seeing I think is an internal sruggle between those who wish integration with the west and old cold war mentalities that have created a situation by invading Georgia that undermines those that want democratic reforms and greater partnership with the international system, politically, economicly, and with the intent to also marginalize those within the Russian gov. who still have a cold war mentality or attitude as to what Russia's role in the world should be.

So, rather than become marginalized, these elments , political and military created over time increasing tensions with Georgia, culminating in action that Georgia could not avoid responding to, regardless of the warnings given by the US and others that it would be a serious mistake to respond to the provocation of some hundreds of Armor units and personel carriers along with troops in force flooding into S.Ossetia, which is internationally recognized Georgian territory.

Basicly we asked Georgia not to defend its territory, to avoid a broader conflict. I can certainly understand why Georgia leaders felt they had no other choice but to do so.

It may be that the hardliners in Russia have done an "end around" their own president's stated foreign policy, as outlined in his first foreign policy speech after taking office, outlining a very liberal and cooperative stance toward international engagement.

This may prove to be the hardliner's undoing in the end, but in the meantime it would be political suicide for the leadership not to show solidarity among ranks now that the hardliners pulled the trigger on the president's foreign policy goals. It's typicly called "saving face", for it's not in the national interest to go public with such an internal struggle. It would induce domestic turmoil.

I'm just seeing a few clues here and there that point in this direction to lead me to write this "theory" if you will.

Call it an educated guess. But it seems to fit the circumstace.

War crimes have been commited, there's photographic and eyewitness evidence to that effect.

And when it is all said and done, I believe these things will cause a great upheaval in Russia, possibly resulting in the fall of the current leadership there.

Or a purge if you will of the hardline elements that instigated this war at the very least.

And this assesment is an example of political probability theory.

We'll see what happens. I look forward to Sec. Rice's speech at the UN Thursday. Should prove interesting to say the least.

Kentucky, USA
September 18, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

I'll moralize on what ever I want -- you're participation included. But my point was not to moralize, just to bring up the futility of arguing against some one who sees things from a different, and often entrenched, point of view. I value your contribution, so much so, that it irritates me when you take time away from your more objective analysis to bash Zharkov for not meeting your debating standards. I find I learn more about the world from your former contributions than the latter. But hey, it's your dime.

As to the transcript you posted, sounds like armored troop movements. The first communication was on the 7th, a week after hostilities between S. Ossetia and Georgia started and 2 days after the Russian ambassador warned that Russia would intervene in the event of military conflict. Since no one is disputing these records, sounds like a valid peace of data, but I would be suspicious of anything further Georgia produces as evidence since they have a vested interest in being the victim, likewise from Russia. Or the U.S. for that matter. All of them will probably cherry pick what ever info they can to paint their own particular picture. Who started the first move of the conflict is trivial compared to the factors behind the situation tipping towards the path it did. What surprises me is how Georgia failed to anticipate a Russian counter-attack. The claim that they were protecting their citizens just because they handed out some passports may have been bogus, but the millions of dollars Russia sunk into that bit of land certainly wasn't, what made Georgia think Russia would just give all that up? I also am not sure why Georgia thought shelling the cities they were supposed to bring back into the fold was a good idea, unless they wanted the land but not the people.

In my opinion, what Georgia should have done, instead of designing a military campaign against an all but lost portion of land, was to focus on their own territorial defenses, the economy, and developing a fair judicial platform. When Georgia became a more tantalizing prospect to be a part of, with guaranteed freedoms for their people, economic opportunity, and higher standard of living than in Russia, they could have won S. Ossetia without ever having to fire a single shot. More honey, less vinegar. As Sun Tzu stated, the worst way to beat an enemy is by conquering their cities, the second less desirable victory is to beat their army in the field, but the most optimal victory is to defeat the enemy's strategy. However, looking at Georgia's upheavals since the revolution, with their political/gang warfare, it seems clear that the leaders are only tacticians, and not strategists. They grab at the first opportunity to strengthen themselves without considering how that reaching puts them in a weakened position. Does Georgia have a right to S. Ossetia? Mostly. But you can only govern those who wish to be governed, otherwise it's an occupation. I think more patience would have served them well. If they had refused to respond to Russia's provocations, then Russia wouldn't have had any context to invade.

However, there was nothing generic or blanket about my assertion that every party was a contributor to this conflict. The four parties (five if you count Israel) all had their own self-interested goals and all prodded this conflict into existence. It's always tricky assuming the motives for other's actions, but here's my guess. S. Ossetia wants independence, not counting the agents in S. Ossetia who want it in Russian hands, not to mention that Russia has treated S. Ossetia better than Georgia has, so you can guess where the average citizen of S. Ossetia's loyalty lies between the two powers. Russia wants to protect it's investments, probably regain land, and to be closer to that pipeline. The U.S. also wants some hand in the pipeline, plus, it has an interest in turning Georgia against Russia. Georgia wants to solidify its control over their region by retaking Az. and S. Os., halting Russian influence then U.S. when we are no longer needed, and gaining entry into international organizations. So, as you can see, everyone was moving in directions that lead to conflict.

What does this mean for U.S./Russia relations? Not much. When the new administration comes into office, they'll sweep it under the rug or at least use the opportunity to reset some pieces, start afresh.

Your last assessment of the conflict between hardliners and the new guard seems spot on. I agree Georgia was certainly under constant harassment by Russia, they felt they had to do something. But in the case of samurai duels, those who's nerve broke first and began their strike were usually slain by the defender.

United States
September 18, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Secretary Rice's latest speech in the ongoing dispute is worth reading if one desires to become an expert in irritating Russian leaders.

New Mexico, USA
September 19, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Kirk, It's not my standards of debate I go by, but Dipnote policy. I thought I was pretty clear on that point in my last post to you, and why you shouldn't bother me with your personal moralizing of my participation on this blog. If you still have a problem with it, take it up with Dipnote staff.

You wrote:

"The first communication was on the 7th, a week after hostilities between S. Ossetia and Georgia started and 2 days after the Russian ambassador warned that Russia would intervene in the event of military conflict."

Kirk, I provided the link to the NYT article. In it it states Russia's official time the conflict started.

11:30 PM the night of Aug 7th.

Time of transcript intecept confirmed by cell phone carrier was 3:41 AM the morning of Aug 7th. 20 hours prior to any Georgian action.

Remember, Georgia had unilaterally declared a ceasefire, even though being shelled by S. Ossetian forces. That ceasfire broke down obviously.

I also posted a link to Zharkov, as "the reality check of the day."

Please note the timeline stated in that transcript.

Kentucky, USA
September 20, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

In this case, the fault lies with me- for urging civility amongst my fellows but using little of it myself. It seems my surly nature has gotten the better of me once again . That you bristled at my comments and characterized them as "moralizing" is not indicative of your ability to accept different opinions but rather my ability to convey them in a compelling manner. Persuasiveness is not my strongest suit -- but I'm working on it. I stand by my points, (or at least my well-intentioned desire for mutual respect amongst the bloggers) if not the heavy handed method I used to express them. Ah well, learning the use of tact is a life-long process, I suppose.

You may find this to be a handy reference:


As well as this short overview:


And this more in-depth account:


I think Georgia is largely the victim here. Russia is targeting them because they have strayed from Russia's control since the Revolution of the Roses. I suspect the Russian mind set is that if they can't control Georgia, then they'll crush it, intimidate it, to keep it from becoming a threat. Recognizing S. Ossetia's independence is another form of sowing conflict and plus, it puts a buffer state between them and Georgia. Georgia's mistake was sending their military into S. Ossetia since by doing so they broke a larger security agreement and it opened a context for Russia to invade. The probably did it to gain first ground and entrench their defenses before the Russian army arrived, already en-route, but their gamble failed and they suffered the consequences.
Like you said, though, how do you convince people not to defend themselves?

Reading those articles has given me a good grasp of the conflict, but regarding how this should affect the US relationship with Russia, I'm still undecided. One thing is clear, it's a sticky issue.

Anyway, what do you think the future holds for our two countries?

New Mexico, USA
September 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Yeah Kirk, don't worry 'bout it, you're right to ask for civility on the blog.

And I know my humor can convey brutal truth at times, and that my stone cold logic doesn't find popularity from those in denial. As Joe in Tenn. will certainly attest to....(chuckle).

But all in all it tends to shine a real bright spotlight on the truth, and that's generally why DoS consistantly posts my thoughts on this and other matters.

Been awhile since I've had a post not be accepted for print, if that says anything.

Haven't had a chance to review the links, will get back to you on them.

I would say in general Wickpedia being not the original source of data, that it cannot guarrantee accuracy.

Especially when there's a lot of unknowns yet to resolve.

Always go directly to the original source if possible.

You might check my post on:


I think Sec. Rice answered your question, and I concur with her assesment overall.

But somethings don't quite add up with regard to Russian statements and actions.

Their official justifications for invading Georgia don't hold pond water, and especially where it concerns their justification for having violated the ceasefire and controlling portions of Georgian territory for as long as they have. They had their reasons, but their stated rationale doesn't fit the need for those actions.

And if my posted hypothetical is correct, Russia cannot possibly admit it's real reasons for having done so.

As I said, Political probability theory is an art form.



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