Originally Published: 8/20/2008
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA
By The Issue Wonk
The recent events in Georgia are very confusing. Hundreds of years of history is involved. Current geopolitical issues are involved. Gas and oil are involved. And the worldwide news media is involved. Sifting through everything isn’t easy, and the mainstream news media has been distorting what’s really going on.1 So I thought I’d try to pull it all together.
Georgia. Georgia lies in eastern Europe but is considered to be partially in Southwest Asia. It lies in the Caucasus region and is bordered on the north by Russia, on the east by Azerbaijan, on the south by Armenia, on the southwest by Turkey, and across the Black Sea is Ukraine. (See map.) The area was under the control of the Ottoman and Persian Empires and, in the 19th century, was absorbed into the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia was independent for a short time but in 1921 it was invaded by and became part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it regained its independence.
In 2003 the so-called Rose Revolution displaced President Eduard Shevardnadze. The November 2003 elections were proclaimed by local and international observers to be rigged in favor of Shevardnadze against his opponent Mikheil Saakashvili. A public up-rising led to a re-run of the elections and, in January 2004, Saakashvili was elected.
Abkhazia. Abkhazia is located within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. It is bordered on the north by Russia. (See map.) It began its secessionist movement in 1991 at the same time that Georgia was regaining its independence from Russia. In 1992 it declared its independence from Georgia and succeeded in expelling the Georgian military from its territory. There was a mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of the Georgian ethnic population and, in 1994, a ceasefire was negotiated with an ongoing United Nations monitoring and peacekeeping force, dominated by Russia. A territory dispute with Russia is still going on. About 83% is governed by a Russian-backed government and 17% governed as the autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. While Abkhazia isn’t recognized internationally as independent, it has received some recognition from Russia as independent. Russia has issued passports to the citizens since 2000 (which cannot be used for international travel) and pays retirement pensions and other monetary benefits. By 2006 80% of the people had received Russian citizenship, but do not pay Russian taxes or serve in the Russian Army. In October 2006 Abkhazia passed a resolution calling upon international recognition of its independence. The United Nations refused to do so. In March 2008 Saakashvili made a new proposal denying Abkhazia’s request for recognition of its independence but granting it a broad degree of autonomy. Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh rejected the proposal. In April 2008, outgoing Russian president Vladimir Putin instructed his government to establish official ties with Abkhazia, as well as South Ossetia, which Georgia condemned as an annexation. Russia accused Georgia of exploiting its NATO support (to which Georgia had made application to be admitted) to resolve its issues with Abkhazia by force and announced it would increase its military in the region, pledging to retaliate if Georgia attempted to militarily take over the region.
South Ossetia. South Ossetia (pronounced O-SEE-tee-ya) lies in the South Caucasus. (See map.) A part of it has been independent from Georgia since 1991 as the Republic of South Ossetia. Its capital is Tskhinvali. Like Abkhazia, its independence is not recognized by the United Nations but is recognized by Russia. Also like Abkhazia, after its 1991 declaration of independence, fighting broke out which was resolved by the establishment of a peacekeeping force, dominated by Russia. In November 2006 it held a referendum on independence and was approved by 99% of voters, with a turnout of 95%. The referendum was monitored by an international team. Yet, no one will recognize it as independent and Georgia retains control over parts of its eastern and southern districts where it created the Provisional Administrative Entity of South Ossetia in April 2007, headed by ethnic Ossetians.
Lieven has a great summary of the South Ossetian conflict.
Many factors are involved in the present conflict but the central one is straightforward: the majority of the Ossetes living south of the main Caucasus range in Georgia wish to unite with the Ossetes living to the north, in an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation; and the Georgians, regarding South Ossetia as both a legal and an historic part of their national territory, refuse to accept this.
Twice in the past century, when the empire to the north weakened and Georgia declared its independence, the southern Ossetes revolted against Georgian rule. It happened in 1918-1920, between the collapse of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union’s conquest of Georgia in 1921; and it happened again in our own time with the fall of the Soviet Union.2
U.S. Ties to Georgia
Ever since Georgia won its independence from Russia, the United States has been its greatest ally.
Throughout history, weak nations with powerful neighbors have energetically sought strong allies. . . Saakashvili has embraced this tried-and-true strategy with gusto, sending a substantial share of the country’s small army to Iraq . . . and parroting Bush administration talking points on international issues – especially on promoting democracy – more than almost any other leader worldwide. Ultimately, however, it wouldn’t matter to Georgia’s president whether the United States was a democracy, a theocracy or ruled by Martians so long as he could use Washington to change the dynamics of Georgian-Russian relations.3
Indeed, while Bush was planning his attack of Iraq and pulling together his “coalition of the willing,” Georgia was one of the first to commit. It has about 2,000 troops in Iraq, “making it the 3rd largest contributor to coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain.”4
More importantly, “Georgia sits on a strategic oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets and bypassing Russian.”5 When the pipeline was completed in 2005, it was “hailed as a major success in the United States policy to diversify its energy supply. Not only did the pipeline transport oil produced in Central Asia, helping move the West away from its dependence on the Middle East, but it also accomplished another American goal: it bypassed Russia.”6
Former Georgian President Shevardnadze was not acceptable to either the U.S. or Russia. “The United States and Russia worked together with the Georgian opposition to ease out then-Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and facilitate the election that ultimately brought Saakashvili into office.”3 However, they had different reasons. The final blow for the U.S. came when Shevardnadze announced that he had “made a deal with the Russian electricity giant RAO Unified Energy Systems, under which Tbilisi ceded control of approximately 50% of Georgia’s power infrastructure.”7 In retaliation, the U.S. cut its financial assistance to Georgia and suspended its power-sector assistance.7 This led to the U.S. support of Shevardnadze’s opponent, Mikheil Saakashvili, a man fluently multilingual with an American education as a lawyer, widely considered to be “dangerously unstable and sometimes ruthless.”8
Even his role as an anti-Russian maverick is not quite what it seems: there is much evidence to suggest that his success in riding the wave of the rose revolution in 2003-04 was more tangled with Russian interests and personalities than either side might care to recall (which might too help explain the ferocity of the personal abuse exchanged between the two sides).”
“An entangled and shadowy story indicates that when the revolution was in its infancy and Shevardnadze was clinging to his throne, Saakashvili was engaged in indirect dialogue with Vladimir Putin via one of the then Russian president’s less savoury intermediaries, Grigory Luchansky. The ambitious Georgian saw an early chance to gain advantage over his elder rival by exerting pressure against the local warlord Aslan Abashidze, who ruled the southwest Georgian province of Adzharia as his fiefdom.”8
Some questions surrounding Saakashvili “include his role in the unexplained death of his prime minister and ally Zurab Zhvania in 2005, and in subsequent extraordinary deaths.”8
Setting the Stage
The recent events began back in January 2006 when a pipeline in southern Russia, which supplied natural gas to Georgia, exploded and left Georgia without heat for a week during the harsh winter. President Saakashvili blamed Moscow, but Russia denied they had done anything.4 After this, the following events occurred:
March 2006 Russia banned imports of Georgian wine, “citing health concerns.”4
July 2006 Saakashvili refused to attend a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of former Soviet nations, which was being held in Moscow. Apparently Putin denied Saakashvili a one-on-one meeting and he was miffed.4
October 2006 Georgia detained 4 Russian military officers it accused of spying. Russia retaliated. It banned air travel between Russia and Georgia, stopped mail service between the two, and cracked down on Georgian migrants.4
November 7, 2007 Saakashvili started using force to crack down on anti-government protesters in Tblisi which led to accusations that he was corrupt and had authoritarian tendencies.9,10 He accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest and expelled 3 Russian diplomats. In retaliation, Russia expelled 3 Georgian diplomats.4
November 15, 2007 Russia completed its withdrawal of troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia that had been there since 1991. However, they left several thousand troops that were there as U.N. peacekeepers, despite Georgia’s protests.4
March 18, 2008 Moscow agreed to restore air travel between Russia and Georgia.4
April 3, 2008 Georgia was denied a “roadmap” (a formal plan) to NATO membership, under pressure from Russia.4
July 8, 2008 The U.S. signed an agreement with the Czech Republic to place the radar for a U.S. Missile Defense System in that country.11
July 9, 2008 Russia warned that it might consider military action if the U.S. continued with plans to put the radar for the Missile Defense system in the Czech Republic.11 After signing the agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Georgia to visit Saakashvili. “Ms. Rice all but dared Moscow to critique her visit to this former Soviet republic locked in a shoving match with Russia . . .”12
July 10-13, 2008 Karl Rove went to Ukraine as a U.S. representative at the Fifth Annual Yalta European Conference. Saakashvili also attended.13
July 11, 2008 Russia confirmed that 4 of its planes had circled over South Ossetia. Georgia threatened to shoot them down if they intruded again on Georgian airspace.4
August 8, 2008 Georgian troops invaded South Ossetian-controlled territory, repeatedly shelling its capital, Tskhinvali. Saakashvili said Georgia’s “operation had been successful and ‘most of South Ossetia’s territory is liberated and is controlled by Georgia.’”14 Hours after Saakashvili declared a cease-fire with South Ossetian troops, “Georgian military forces unleashed a barrage of shelling on the province’s capital, Tskhinvali . . . By the morning, Georgian tanks had entered the South Ossetian capital.”15 However, “Saakashvili has handed Russia a victory it could scarcely have dreamed of – his decision to invade South Ossetia has left his army humiliated and he could soon be fighting for his political life with no prospect of any meaningful help from his Western allies.”16 At the same time, Abkhazian forces gained control of upper Abkhazia, previously controlled by Georgia.14
Result of Georgia’s Invasion
At the start of the Georgia-Russia conflict, most western media reported the story as poor little Georgia being invaded by the Big Nasty Russia. However, this story is blatantly false. Georgia attacked South Ossetia, which, as noted above, believes itself to be an independent nation but is heavily allied with Russia. Russia is legitimately there as a U.N. peacekeeping force and, with its alliance, is dedicated to assisting South Ossetia. Georgia wants the territory of South Ossetia back. Fighting has been between Georgia and South Ossetian forces, aided by the U.N. peacekeeping forces led by Russia. Confusing, yes. And this may explain the western media’s confusion. It’s much simpler to boil it down to Georgia vs. Russia.
It’s also rather confusing as to why Georgia, a relatively small nation, would choose to attack South Ossetia, which would clearly inflame Russia and provoke not only defense of South Ossetia, but also retaliation. “Saakashvili ordered the assault last week knowing that South Ossetia would resist, knowing that his forces would have to take on Russian peacekeepers and knowing that Moscow has been spoiling for a fight.”3 It seems clear that Saakashvili believed that the United States would come to his aid.
The United States is Georgia’s closest ally. It maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government and people doing business in Georgia. It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia’s mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that the Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?17
Saakashvili sharply criticized the West’s failure to support him in this conflict.18 So, did the White House intimate that the U.S. would support him? Even if Saakashvili is naïve, the U.S. isn’t. The White House and the Pentagon are well aware that there is little support the U.S. could give Georgia. We are embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. “It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery.”17 So, knowing they could not help, why would they give Georgia this impression?
Given Secretary of State Rice’s visit and former White House counselor Karl Rove’s presence in the region, it would be naïve to believe that the U.S. had no part in this attack. According to Kaplan, the U.S. did indeed “egg on” Georgia.
It’s heartbreaking, but even more infuriating, to read so many Georgians quoted in the New York Times – officials, soldiers, and citizens – wondering when the United States is coming to their rescue. It’s infuriating because it’s clear that Bush did everything to encourage them to believe that he would. When Bush (properly) pushed for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, Putin warned that he would do the same for pro-Russian secessionists elsewhere, by which he could only have meant Georgia’s separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Putin had taken drastic steps in earlier disputes over those regions – for instance, embargoing all trade with Georgia – with an implicit threat that he could inflict far greater punishment. Yet Bush continued to entice Saakashvili with weapons, training, and talk of entry into NATO. Of course, the Georgians believed that if they got into a firefight with Russia, the Americans would bail them out.
Bush pressed the other NATO powers to place Georgia’s application for membership on the fast track. The Europeans rejected the idea, understanding the geo-strategic implications of pushing NATO’s boundaries right up to Russia’s border. If the Europeans had let Bush have his way, we would now be obligated by treaty to send troops in Georgia’s defense. That is to say, we would now be in a shooting war with the Russians. Those who might oppose entering such a war would be accused of “weakening our credibility” and “destroying the unity of the Western Alliance.”19 [Emphasis added.]
It seems likely that this plan for an attack on South Ossetia was intended by the U.S. has a way of antagonizing Russia into a war with Georgia in order to stir up support for the election of John McCain. Even though “fast track” for Georgia’s admittance to NATO had failed, Bush may have decided to go ahead with the plan in an effort to boost McCain’s election chances and figuring that the whole world would jump to defending Georgia. Indeed, given most of the media reporting, it looks like everyone in the world would go along with this plan, except NATO and the United Nations, who were able to see through the ploy.
Indeed, veteran investigative reporter Robert Scheer said:
Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?20
Scheer goes on to speculate that Randy Scheunemann, a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government which ended in March 2008 just after he became McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser,
was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
. . .
How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back.20 [Emphasis added.]
What’s Happening Now?
On August 13th French President Nicolas Sarkozy stepped in and brokered a cease-fire. (France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.) While Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to the agreement, it has been unclear whether the fighting has stopped. Most reports of continued attacks come from the South Ossetian city of Gori, which is inside Georgian territory and is in an area that is not under dispute. However, who is doing the fighting is unclear. Most reports state it is between Russians and Georgians, but one report stated it was “South Ossetian paramilitary fighters killing Georgian civilians, unrestrained by Russian troops.”21 And, it looks clear that Russia isn’t leaving the area soon:
Heavy battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, supply trucks and howitzers rumbled toward the capital of Tskhinvali. MIG helicopter gunships flew overhead in the same direction.5
The 6-point deal that Sarkozy negotiated “allowed Russia to claim that it could push deeper into Georgia as part of so-called additional security measures it was granted in the agreement.” Russia had demanded that its military be granted the right “to act as peacekeepers even outside the separatist regions until a system of international monitors could be implemented. Georgia wanted a clear timeline to establish when these ‘peacekeeping’ operations would end, but Russia refused.”22
Also on August 13th, President Bush sent American troops to Georgia “to oversee a ‘vigorous and ongoing’ humanitarian mission.”18 Bush said, “We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit. We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia, and we expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.”18 Now, who believes that Russia is going to stand by and allow the United States military to control the “seaports, airports, roads, and airspace” while we bring in more and more troops? No one, except Saakashvili who “interpreted the aid operation as a decision to defend Georgia’s ports and airports, though Bush administration and Pentagon officials quickly made it clear that would not be the case. A senior administration official said, ‘We won’t be protecting the airport or seaport, but we’ll certainly protect our assets if we need to.’”18
On August 15th Saakashvili signed a truce agreement with Russia. Medvedev signed it on August 16th. It calls for both sides to pull back to positions held before the fighting erupted on August 8th.23 “But the Kremlin then indicated that despite the accord’s approval, it would not immediately pull its troops from the country.”24 Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said they would stay in Georgia as long as they are needed. “The basic agreements do not determine the ceiling for the peacekeeping contingents. How long it will take, I have already emphasized that it depends not only on us. We are constantly facing problems created by the Georgian side.”24
Saakashvili appears to be the primary casualty of the conflict.
The true death-toll in Tskhinvali, and the extent of Georgian responsibility, is a further shadow over Saakashvili; even if it proves to be less than the figure of 1,500 circulated widely, the action remains a monstrous and (to use one of Saakashvili’s favourite words – but only of his enemies) barbarous outrage committed by a national army trying to retake a separatist provincial town. All this is good reason why – despite all the embraces and handshakes, and the doubtless smiling welcome given to Condoleezza Rice when the United State’s secretary of state visits Tbilisi – many of Saakashvili’s western allies are now as anxious as the Russians to find a more reasonable man to replace him. [Emphasis added.]
When his political obituary is written, the least that can be said is that his actions is South Ossetia have meant that any prospect of reincorporating South Ossetia into Georgia is now even more faint than it was before his misguided misadventure. As so often, the projection of zealous Georgian nationalism defeats its own intended purposes.8
Another casualty is the U.S. occupation of Iraq. General David H. Petraeus’ plans for pulling out U.S. forces are contingent upon the “partner nations” keeping their troop levels intact. Those plans will now have to be revamped.
With nearly 2,000 Georgian troops returning home in the midst of the crisis there, the coalition has lost what one senior military official called one of the largest and most capable contributions to the Iraq effort. As a result, the official said, Petraeus is now assessing whether he will have to change his plans, including possibly delaying the return home of some U.S. forces this year.25
A winner in the conflict is the U.S. weapons industry. There is now “unexpected” support for more weapons production, “including flashy fighter jets and high-tech destroyers, that have had to battle for funding this year because they appear obsolete for today’s conflicts with insurgent opponents.”26 Clearly, the military-industrial complex would love to bring back the Cold War.
Oil and Gas
As with everything else that happens in this world, oil and gas are at the heart of things. The Georgian-Russian conflict are no different. “Challenges seen as having died with the Soviet Union, such as access to Central Asian oil and gas supplies, have made a hasty return to Washington’s foreign-policy agenda and will present new and unexpected challenges for America’s next president. . . [T]he war represents a setback to U.S. and European efforts to create new routes to bring the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Sea region to market, bypassing Russia . . .”5
The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline. Known as BTC, this pipeline supplies about 1% of the world’s daily supply of oil. It carries crude from Azerbaijan across Georgia to the Turkish coast. “While no oil infrastructure appears to have been hit during the conflict, the brief war has dented Georgia’s reputation as a secure energy corridor.”5
The Nobucco Project. The Nobucco pipeline will transport natural gas from Erzurum, Turkey to Baumgarten an der March, Austria, a major gas hub. Currently Europe is receiving much of its natural gas from Russia. The project is backed by the European Union and the United States. The main source of gas will come from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan. The Dauletabad gas field in Turkmenistan would also contribute a great deal of the gas. The role of Iran in the pipeline is unclear. While Wikipedia reports that the European Union and the U.S. have rejected Iran’s participation, SteelGuru reports that “Iran will be a major supplier of natural gas . . . Construction of this pipeline in Iran will start in 2008 with an investment of USD 5 billion.”27
The impotence of the U.S. in the Georgia-Russia will probably have an impact on the future of Nobucco:
The question is whether Russia’s incursion chills efforts to create new routes that run outside Russian control. The Bush administration has thrown its backing behind a huge non-Russian pipeline project called Nabucco (sic) intended to deliver new gas supplies to Europe from Central Asia and the Caucasus.
By bruising Washington’s influence, Moscow has given its own ambitions a big leg up. State-owned gas giant Gasprom, which supplies nearly a quarter of Europe’s growing gas demand, has been sealing new gas deals with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and other Central Asian suppliers to divert supplies away from the Nabucco (sic) project. On the political front, the invasion jeopardizes 2 of the U.S.’s principal campaigns for reshaping Europe.5
There’s an interesting side note to the Nobucco Project. As I’ve reported in The Weekly Wonk, there is a U.S. Missile Defense System that the U.S. wants to install in eastern Europe. The actual system is to be placed in Poland and the radar for it in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic signed an agreement with the U.S. early in August 2008. Poland is expected to sign an agreement by the end of August. According to news reports, Poland has been holding off signing the agreement because it is asking for “additional security,” given Russia’s threats of retaliation for placement of missiles so close to their border and probably pointed at them. However, Poland has been pushing to get some of the funds for the Nobucco project so that a major gas hub could be established there.28 Whether or not this hub would be in addition to the Austrian hub or as a replacement to the Austrian hub, I have not been able to determine. But it makes one wonder if Poland was truly holding off signing the Missile Defense System agreement because it wanted “additional security” or because it wanted some deal on the Nobucco project.
Indeed, the importance of transporting oil and gas from the Middle East and the Caspian Sea regions to the United States and Europe was made clear at the June 3, 2008 Global Leadership Speaker Series of the Atlantic Council of the United States. The speaker was Ali Babacan, Turkey’s Foreign Minister. He was introduced by Brent Scowcroft, former Chair of President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and now the Chair of the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board. Babacan said:
The east-west energy corridor of which some main components are already functional – which I have mentioned, like the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and, also, the gas pipeline is very important. And now, also, we are working on a Nobuko project, which is basically to bring Caspian and Middle Eastern gas via Turkey to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and into the European Union. And also, Turkey is going to be an important country to bring the gas and oil from Iran to Mediterranean or to European markets.29 [Emphasis added.]
A combination of American recklessness, serious miscalculation and over-reach by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Russia’s forceful reassertion of its regional national interests, and possibly the desire to renew the Cold War in order to propel John McCain to the presidency, have helped to re-establish Russia as an oil-and-gas-rich, tough international player who is challenging U.S. credibility. This may well trigger a geopolitical crisis that, as usual, will center around oil and gas, with Europe being the pawn in the war games between the U.S. and Russia and benefitting only the weapons industry.
1 Sweet, Diane. Fox Cuts Off 12-Year-Old Relating Georgian Violence. Raw Story, August 16, 2008.
2 Lieven, Anatol. Analysis: Roots of the Conflict Between Georgia, South Ossetia and Russia. The Times, August 11, 2008.
3 Saunders, Paul J. Georgia’s Recklessness. Washington Post, August 15, 2008.
4 Associated Press. Georgian Oil Facilities Bombed. The Toronto Star, August 8, 2008.
5 Solomon, Jay, King, Neil Jr., & Champion, Marc. Russia Agrees to Halt War: Drubbing of Georgia Deals a Blow to U.S. Foreign Policy. The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2008.
6 Mouawad, Jad. Conflict Narrows Oil Options for West. The New York Times, August 13, 2008.
7 Antelava, Natalia. United States Cuts Development Aid to Georgia. Eurasianet.org, September 29, 2003.
8 Rayfield, Donald. The Georgia-Russia Conflict: Lost Territory, Found Nation. Open Democracy, August 13, 2008.
9 BBC. Tear Gas Used on Georgia Protest. BBC News, November 7, 2007.
10 The U.S. State Department’s 2007 Human Rights Report found “serious problems” with Georgia’s human rights record and notes “excessive use of force to disperse demonstrations;” “impunity of police officers;” and declining respect for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and political participation. Ana Dolidze, a democracy advocate and former chair of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association, has described in detail how Saakashvili acted quickly after entering office to empower the executive branch at the expense of parliament and to strengthen the government by “stifling political expression, pressuring influential media, and targeting vocal critics and opposition leaders” – including using law enforcement agencies. Saakashvili is far from the morally pure democrat he would have us believe he is.
11 Charter, David. Russia Threatens Military Response to U.S. Missile Defence Deal. Timesonline.com, July 9, 2008.
12 Gearan, Anne. Rice: Russia Should Stop Issuing Threats. Associated Press, July 10, 2008.
13 Yalta European Strategy. List of participants.
14 AFP. Russian Troops Enter South Ossetia After Georgia Offensive. August 8, 2008. Preserved at Google.com.
15 Rodriguez, Alex. Georgia Invades Breakaway South Ossetia Province; Russia Sends in Tanks. Chicago Tribune, August 8, 2008.
16 Allen, Nick. Georgia: Mikheil Saakashvili, the Man Who Lost It All. Telegraph, August 13, 2008.
17 Friedman, George. The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power. Stratfor.com, August 12, 2008.
18 Myers, Steven Lee, Tavernise, Sabrina, & Barry, Ellen. Bush, Sending Aid, Demands That Moscow Withdraw. The New York Times, August 13, 2008.
19 Kaplan, Fred. Lonely Night in Georgia: The Bush Administration’s Feckless Response to the Russian Invasion. Slate, August 11, 2008.
20 Scheer, Robert. Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy? Truthdig.com, August 12, 2008.
21 Finn, Peter. Moscow Agrees to Georgia Truce: Russian Attacks Continue After Statement. Washington Post, August 13, 2008.
22 Kramer, Andrew E. Peace Plan Offers Russia a Rationale to Advance. The New York Times, August 13, 2008.
23 Torchia, Christopher. Russia Signs Georgia Truce, Uncertainty Remains. The Associated Press, August 16, 2008. (Preserved at Truthout.com)
24 Levy, Clifford J. & Chivers, C.J. Kremlin Signs Truce But Resists Quick Pullout. The New York Times, August 16, 2008.
25 Spiegel, Peter. Georgia Fallout Felt in Iraq. Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2008.
26 Cole, August. Attack on Georgia Gives Boost to Big U.S. Weapons Programs. The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2008.
27 Steel Guru. Iran to Supply LNG to Europe Through Nobuko Pipeline. Steelguru.com, February 1, 2008.
28 Poland Wants Central Asia Gas Pipeline Bypassing Russia. 1913intel.com, March 11, 2007.
29 News & Events. Global Leadership Speaker Series – Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey. The Atlantic Council of the United States, June 3, 2008.
© The Issue Wonk, 2008