A damning admission on the Georgian war 8 November 2008 - Alex Lantier, WSWS


A damning admission on the Georgian war
8 November 2008

The New York Times on Friday carried a front-page article headlined “Accounts Undercut Claims by Georgia on Russia War.” The article cited a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a multinational association of 56 member states whose monitors were in Georgia when the fighting broke out, which demolishes the official US account of the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war, according to which the war was an act of Russian aggression.

The OSCE concluded that the conflict began on August 7 when US-trained Georgian troops shelled Russian peacekeepers and civilians in the capital of Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.

According to Friday’s New York Times, “the accounts suggest that Georgia's inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on August 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.” The newspaper added, “Georgian artillery rounds and rockets were falling throughout the city at intervals of 15 to 20 seconds between explosions, and within the first hour of the bombardment at least 48 rounds landed in a civilian area.”

After an initial bombardment around 6 PM on August 7, Georgian troops declared a unilateral ceasefire, during which they apparently moved rockets and artillery into better positions. At 11 PM, Georgia announced that Russian troops were shelling Georgian villages in South Ossetia and declared an operation to “restore constitutional order” there.

OSCE monitors refuted Georgian claims that Georgian forces were responding to a Russian attack. The Times wrote, “monitors have also said they were unable to verify that ethnic Georgian villages were under heavy bombardment that evening, calling to question one of [Georgian President] Mr. Saakashvili's main justifications for the attacks.”

The newspaper quoted ex-British army officer Ryan Grist, who was the senior OSCE representative in Georgia when the war broke out, as saying, “It was clear to me that the [Georgian] attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation.”

As was explained later, particularly in the European press, Georgia hoped to rapidly overrun South Ossetia and seize the Roki Tunnel, the main transport corridor through the mountains separating Russia and South Ossetia. In the case of a weak Russian response—the attack took place with top Russian officials away at the Beijing Olympics—Georgia could hope to present Russia with a fait accompli. In the event, the Georgian offensive bogged down in Tskhinvali and Russia sent in reinforcements, rapidly chasing Georgian troops out of South Ossetia.

US government and media reporting at the time turned reality on its head, denouncing Russia in chorus for its “aggression.” As Russia sent reinforcements to South Ossetia and expelled Georgian forces, President Bush denounced Russia's response as “disproportionate.” Vice President Dick Cheney said, “Russian aggression must not go unanswered,” adding that its continuation would have “serious consequences” for Russia’s relations with the United States.

In its August 12 editorial, the Times wrote, “Moscow claims it is merely defending the rights of ethnic minorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which have been trying to break from Georgia since the early 1990s. But its ambitions go far beyond that. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [...] appears determined to reimpose by force and intimidation as much of the old Soviet sphere of influence as he can get away with.”

In its Friday article, the Times implied that the findings of the OSCE was new information about which the newspaper was previously unaware. However, its own account contradicts this self-serving depiction of its role in spreading disinformation about the Georgian-Russian conflict. The article notes that OSCE representative Grist last August “gave a briefing to diplomats from the European Union that drew from the monitors’ observations and included his assessments. He then soon resigned under unclear circumstances.” There can be no doubt that the Times (as well as the US government) was aware of Grist’s report soon after it was given to EU officials.

The Times article concluded that the discrepancy between OSCE testimony and the official position of the US government and media put “the United States in a potentially difficult position. The United States, Saakashvili's principal source of international support, has for years accepted the organization's conclusions and praised its professionalism.”

In fact, the OSCE report completely refutes the US line, which was shot through with inconsistencies. While seeking to place the blame on Russia, the US media also spread claims that Georgian forces had acted without US knowledge—even though the US kept over 100 military advisors in Georgia in the run-up to the invasion, which followed soon after a major exercise with US forces entitled “Immediate Response 2008.”

Washington seized on the Russian-Georgian conflict to place missile defenses and troops in Poland and the Czech Republic, raising the specter of a direct military clash with Russia. It dismissed Russian claims of Georgian aggression out of hand.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain telephoned Saakashvili and told him, “Today we're all Georgians.” Then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama issued a statement from Hawaii, where he was on vacation, denouncing Russian “aggression.” Later, in ceremonies for the seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the candidates joined forces to issue calls for “national service,” with Obama saying, “If we are going to war, then all of us go, not just some.”

Definite political conclusions must be drawn from a situation that created the potential for global war. First and foremost is the utter unreliability of the US political establishment and media, which expressed hardly any dissenting views, even as more critical accounts emerged in the European press in sharp contradiction to their accounts.

The prominence the New York Times gave to its account of the OSCE report—the article was the front-page lead and continued to a full-page article in the inside pages—suggests a deliberate operation to prepare public opinion for a shift in US policy in the region. With President-elect Obama committed to increasing the US military presence in Afghanistan and the US facing a major economic recession, an attempt seems to be underway to repair relations with Russia, possibly at Saakashvili's expense.

In Tbilisi 10,000 protestors marched against Saakashvili yesterday, marking the one-year anniversary of his violent repression of demonstrations supporting rival nationalist Irakli Okruashvili.

The US also announced plans yesterday to open negotiations with Russia over nuclear weapons and the controversial US nuclear missile defense shield aimed at Russia. The talks would aim to revise the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and assuage “Moscow's growing opposition to a US missile-defense system for Europe,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

A State Department official told the Journal such negotiations would not conclude under the Bush administration, but would rather “help get the ball rolling” for President-elect Obama.

Alex Lantier

In other words...

officials have confirmed that this was a U.S. inspired Georgian false flag event which failed. Seems the Russians know their, and more recent U.S., history.

And the U.S. propaganda machine rolls on...

We will all have to work that much harder now that Obama has been brought in to put "the left" back to sleep and "the right" will have their false "progressive" to rail against.

Divide and conquer, the oldest game in the book.

Love is a verb, brothers and sisters, let's get busier!

The truth shall set us free. Love is the only way forward.

"We will all have to work

"We will all have to work that much harder now that Obama has been brought in to put "the left" back to sleep"

. . . but will he (put the left back to sleep)?

There's a new awareness taking place globally . . . I have hope.

(As long as we can keep the Internet free.)

"To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."
-- Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Platform of the Progressive Party

Yes, I think "The Left" is drinking Obama Koolaid

and headed back to sleep, by and large, while the real left is trying to figure out how to deal with the myth of Obama and move the progressive agenda forward.

Keep in mind I live in one of the most "liberal" counties in the country and the county that made the most calls on behalf of Obama, so I observe this first hand. What I hear is that "we need to give him a chance" and " he has to play the game in order to get things done".

I agree that the truth marches on globally, thanks to people like Richard Gage and William Rodriguez, and nationally, thanks to people like you and Jon Gold and the dozens I work with here in northern California.

As a first step we need to press Obama supporters to tell the new president to fully fund benefits for the surviving victims of 9/11 and its aftermath, an issue that I know is near and dear to you and most in the movement. This is doable and will build a bridge that more controversial information can pass over, leading to even more awareness for the need for a real investigation.

If the front door is closed and locked, try the back door, the side doors and the windows. Climb on the roof and drop leaflets down the chimney if you have to.

Keep up the great work in PA!

We have a small group of very dedicated women working on a film festival here in Marin County, I will post details and reports as it moves forward.

Please don't interpret anything I write as evidence of my being discouraged, I grow more confident that the truth will prevail every day.

The truth shall set us free. Love is the only way forward.

A related, and I thought

A related, and I thought interesting, article . . .


"To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."
-- Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Platform of the Progressive Party

Georgia fired first shot, say UK monitors


From The Sunday Times
November 9, 2008
Georgia fired first shot, say UK monitors
Jon Swain

Two former British military officers are expected to give crucial evidence against Georgia when an international inquiry is convened to establish who started the country’s bloody five-day war with Russia in August.

Ryan Grist, a former British Army captain, and Stephen Young, a former RAF wing commander, are said to have concluded that, before the Russian bombardment began, Georgian rockets and artillery were hitting civilian areas in the breakaway region of South Ossetia every 15 or 20 seconds.

Their accounts seem likely to undermine the American-backed claims of President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia that his little country was the innocent victim of Russian aggression and acted solely in self-defence.

During the war both Grist and Young were senior figures in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The organisation had deployed teams of unarmed monitors to try to reduce tension over South Ossetia, which had split from Georgia in a separatist struggle in the early 1990s with Russia’s support.
Related Links

* BBC attacked over Russian cuts

* Russia calls for missiles within hours

* Suicide bomber in North Ossetia kills 11

On the night war broke out, Grist was the senior OSCE official in Georgia. He was in charge of unarmed monitors who became trapped by the fighting. Based on their observations, Grist briefed European Union diplomats in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, with his assessment of the conflict.

Grist, who resigned from the OSCE shortly afterwards, has told The New York Times it was Georgia that launched the first military strikes against Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital.

“It was clear to me that the [Georgian] attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation,” he said. “The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town.”

Last month Young gave a similar briefing to visiting military attachés, in which he reportedly supported the monitors’ assessment that there had been little or no shelling of Georgian villages on the night Saakashvili’s troops mounted an onslaught on Tskhinvali in which scores of civilians and Russian peacekeepers died.

“If there had been heavy shelling in areas that Georgia claimed were shelled, then our people would have heard it, and they didn’t,” Young reportedly said. “They heard only occasional small-arms fire.”

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister who helped broker the ceasefire that ended the war and has been a fierce critic of the Russian invasion of Georgia, is tomorrow due to announce a commission of inquiry into the conflict at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The inquiry will be chaired by a Swiss expert as a mark of independence and will try to establish who was to blame for the conflict. European and OSCE sources say it is likely to seek evidence from the two former British officers.

The inquiry comes as the EU softens its hardline position towards Russia amid mounting European scepticism about Saakashvili’s judgment.

Europe is preparing to resume negotiations with Moscow this month on a new partnership and cooperation agreement, which it froze when Russia invaded Georgia, routed its army and recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region.

Although Grist and Young know only part of the picture, their evidence appears to support Russia’s claim that the Georgian attack was well underway by the time their troops and armour crossed the border in a huge counter-strike.

Georgia attacked South Ossetia on the night of August 7-8. In the afternoon an OSCE patrol had seen Georgian artillery and Grad rocket launchers massing just outside the enclave. At 6pm the monitors were told of suspected Georgian shelling of a village.

Georgia declared a unilateral ceasefire. But at 11pm it announced that Georgian villages were being shelled and began a military operation to “restore constitutional order” in South Ossetia.

Soon afterwards the Georgian bombardment of Tskhinvali began. By 12.35am the OSCE monitors had recorded more than 100 rockets or shells exploding in Tskhinvali.

Russia sent in troops and armour, saying they were there to protect its peacekeepers and the civilian population. The invasion attracted worldwide condemnation and led to a deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West.

Many western leaders depicted Russia as an expansionist giant determined to crush its tiny neighbour. They rallied to Georgia’s defence amid calls for it to be rapidly admitted to Nato, Saakashvili’s most fervent wish.

The president argued that Russia had attacked Georgia because “we want to be free” and that his country was fighting a defensive war.

Critical to his argument was his claim that he had ordered the Georgian army to attack South Ossetia in self-defence after mobile telephone intercepts from the Russian border revealed that Russian army vehicles were entering Georgian territory through the Roki tunnel.

“We wanted to stop the Russian troops before they could reach Georgian villages,” Saakashvili said. “When our tanks moved toward Tskhinvali, the Russians bombed the city. They were the ones – not us – who reduced it to rubble.”

Russia counters that the war began at 11.30pm, when Saakashvili ordered an attack, well before any Russian combat troops and armour crossed the border through the tunnel.


August 7, 3pm: OSCE monitors see build-up of Georgian artillery on roads to South Ossetia.

6.10pm: Russian peacekeepers inform OSCE of suspected Georgian artillery fire on Khetagurovo, a South Ossetian village.

7pm: Georgia declares a unilateral ceasefire.

11pm: Georgia announces that its villages are being shelled and launches attack in South Ossetia.

11.30pm: Georgian forces bombard Tskhinvali.

11.45pm: OSCE monitors report shells falling on Tskhinvali every 15-20 seconds.

August 8, 12.15am: Commander of Russian peacekeepers reports that his unit has taken casualties. Russia later announces that it has invaded Georgia to protect civilians and Russian peacekeepers.

I wonder if John McCain will apologize....

.....for his incorrect statements in the debates when he scolded Obama for being naive and not understanding Russian "aggression." Remember, Obama had suggested that both sides take responsibility and cool down. Of course the American people have no clue what really happened in Georgia, so they are likely to accept McCain's ignorant suggestion that Russia was the aggressor.