South Ossetia is on the brink of war. The detention of Russian peacekeeper motorcade by the Georgian Interior Ministry and seizure of two vehicles with ammunition meant to equip a military airfield instigated a crisis in the region. The operation was led by Georgian Interior and State Security Ministers Irakly Okruashvili and Vano Merabishvili. This is a dismal fact that means that the operation was masterminded at the top level and President Saakashvili was aware of it.
"The Georgian actions were dangerous and provocative aimed to change the status quo by force. This arouses serious concern," director of the Russian Strategic Research Institute Yevgeny Kozhokin said in a RIA Novosti interview.
The expert calls to consider the situation from the legal point of view. "Did the Russian peacekeepers have the right to stay near the village of Kurta and transport ammunition? Yes, they did. What was their purpose? Peace and order. Did the Georgian Interior Ministry aim to provide stability? No, they didn't. Could their actions cause an armed conflict? I am sure they could," the expert said.
According to Commander of the Mixed Peacekeeping Force in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area Major-General Svyatoslav Nabzdorov, "the Georgian side is provoking this conflict to claim that Russian peacekeepers fail to fulfill their functions". "However, our mandate is open-ended and we shall stay here until the conflict is settled even if one of the sides says that it does not need us anymore," the commander said.
Obviously, this conflict is a consequence of Georgia's policy in general. President Mikhail Saakashvili is a man of action. His rapid and radical solution of the problems in Tbilisi and Batumi means that Mr. Saakashvili always takes the lead making rivals play his game.
However, the situations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia differ from those in Tbilisi and Adzharia. After first attempts the Georgian leadership understood that swift attacks are inadmissible here. Georgia's striving for the use of force instead of negotiations will not stabilize the situation in the Caucasus, which is getting more and more dangerous.
One should expect a winter escalation of hostilities. We will definitely see it either in December or early next year. There is no reason for a break - only a small part of the mobilised has been deployed to the zone of the special operation yet