To all appearance, Georgia, a republic of the former USSR, is determined to initiate a new war near Russia's southern borders. The Georgian government is ready to fight for the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia. Pravda.Ru has reported before that the Georgian parliament has voted for the withdrawal of Russian peacemakers from the conflict zone to get rid of the major obstacle – the Russian military presence.
Georgian politicians do not even watch their language when making public statements about Russia. The State Minister for Conflict Regulation, Mr. Khaindrava, has recently said that “Russia would carry responsibility together with other fascists organizing bacchanalias on other countries’ territories.”
Deputies of the Russian Federation State Duma have reacted harshly to the above-mentioned attacks. Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of the Rodina faction in the Duma, offered to recall the Russian ambassador from Tbilisi. The deputies did not support the politician. However, it has recently transpired that the question to withdraw the Russian ambassador from Georgia was discussed at the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Georgia, Mr. Chikvishvili, says that it would be impossible to go on with such an endeavor.
It was Russian soldiers who helped cease the armed conflict in the Georgia-South Ossetia zone. The combined peace forces include three battalions with 500 military men (from Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia ) in each of them. The peacemaking troops in Abkhazia are made of Russian servicemen only. They are not subjected to the withdrawal process. However, the Georgian government will try to oust them from the territory as well if the current initiative to expel Russian military men from South Ossetia becomes a success.
It is not hard to organize the withdrawal of Russian peacemakers from the legal point of view. The Georgian government will have to support the decision of its parliament first. President Mikhail Saakashvili will then sign a decree about Georgia’s pull out from the agreements concluded with Russia in 1992. If it happens, the Western countries will show great pressure on Russia until all Russian peacemakers leave the territory of the country.
Georgia may seek support from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO or neutral countries – Ukraine, for example. It is worthy of note that the Ossetians will only accept Russian peacemakers in their republic and no one else. The locals are scared of the ethnic cleansing. The massacre took place in the past, during the presidency of the Georgian President Gamsakhurdia, when 100,000 Ossetians were expelled from the territory of Georgia. Furthermore, who can trust the NATO troops now after their crimes in Serbia and Kosovo?
On the other hand, Georgian President Saakashvili does not plan to conduct long-term negotiations. His rating in the country has dropped to 17 percent. What could be better for his popularity than a victorious war?
Scientists of politics believe, though, that the final decision about the war has not been made yet. Most likely, the situation will become clear after Mikhail Saakashvili visits the USA in March. Russian experts believe that the power of the Georgian president will be ruined without the US sponsorship. Saakashvili believes that it would be best to start the war during the time when Russia prepares for the G8 summit in St.Petersburg.
Ninety percent of South Ossetians are Russian citizens. If Russian peacemakers leave, a civil war will be inevitable. Russia will have to defend its people. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov does not think that there will be any war after all. “A serious armed conflict between Russia and Georgia is not possible taking into consideration the defense arsenal which Georgia has at its disposal. The Georgian army is still being organized with the help of the USA and NATO. They have only two or three battalions of land troops capable of conducting defense operations. In fact, Georgia does not have the air defense system. Their air force is made of some ten outdated US helicopters,” Ivashov said.
Arguments and Facts
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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