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More Russo-Georgian war ...
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Heritage Foundation's Ariel Cohen believes Russia has 5 strategic goals in mind with its invasion of Georgia:
1. Expulsion of Georgian troops and termination of Georgian sovereignty in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

2. “Regime change” by bringing down President Mikheil Saakashvili and installing a more pro-Russian leadership in Tbilisi.

3. Preventing Georgia from joining NATO and sending a strong message to Ukraine that its insistence on NATO membership may lead to war and/or its dismemberment.

4. Shifting control of the Caucasus, and especially over strategic energy pipelines, by controlling Georgia.

5. Recreating a 19th-century-style sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union, by the use of force if necessary.
Stratfor brings us an excellent map of the conflict (click here to enlarge).

Strafor also politely disagrees with the Cohen's assessment that this was a move by Russia to reassert its influence. Stratfor thinks the influence was already in place, this was simply the formal announcement (or demonstration if you prefer):
The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 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. This, as we have argued, has opened a window of opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the invasion did not shift the balance of power. The balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that Aug. 8.
Six of one, half dozen of the other as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of which you believe, the game for the states surrounding Russia has changed and those states bordering the bear know it.

For years, since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been resisting Western attempt so woo the breakaway states that surround it. Inherently paranoid, Russia sees such encroachment as a threat. And, in various ways, it has tried to demonstrate that displeasure with acts which have been condemned by the rest of the world - such as cutting off a pipeline which runs through the Ukraine when displeased with that country.

Essentially Russia wants barrier states between it and the West, who it still really doesn't trust. It understand, I think, that the former eastern bloc nations it once held under its influence are pretty much lost to it. But the former Soviet states which border it are not.

Russia really hasn't had the wealth (yet) or the history to cause these states - who are just as suspicious of Russia as Russia is the West - to commit to a relationship which is to Russia's advantage.

So, Russia reverts to form. Obviously its military capability, once woefully degraded, has been put back into some semblance of fighting form. And it has chosen this time, for the reasons Strafor outlines, to demonstrate its resolve to stop this encroachment by the West and serve notice to the former Soviet states which border it, that it will use force to ensure a buffer and there isn't much at all their new Western "allies" can do about it.

Regime change, as I consider it further, isn't a necessary condition for success in that particular endeavor. Perhaps it would make life easier for Russia, but it doesn't change the basic message to Georgia or the other former Soviet states.

Speaking of regime change, many have also figured that was the reason for the continued invasion into Georgia proper by Russia. Instead it may have been a demonstration for the West of its ability to quickly move militarily to take the energy pipeline in the south of Georgia. As with most demonstrations like that, you don't have to physically take the pipeline to demonstrate you could if you wished too. An advance toward Tblisi makes that point very well.

Strafor boils it down to two goals for this little Russian adventure:
Putin did not want to re-establish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re-establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union region. To accomplish that, he had to do two things. First, he had to re-establish the credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in the context of its region. Second, he had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power.
Those both make perfect sense to me in light of the situation. And, I'd say, Putin has accomplished them both with the invasion of Georgia.

Anyway, read the Stratfor article and Heritage as well. Both give excellent insight into what's going on there.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

From the Stratfor analysis:
The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 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.
Well, I think it’s an arugable point as to the "strategic" ground forces — but it’s pretty clear that there was no advance response in that regard to the extensive preparations that the Russians made for this invasion (per Ralph Peters’ analysis). Anyone who believes that the DIA, NSA, and CIA combined missed those preparations, and that the President didn’t know about them, is in my opinion whistling Dixie through their a**.

On the other hand, there are plenty of strategic assets available for striking at massed Russian forces inside Georgia. I don’t think that anyone thinks that they will be used. And that’s well before you come up against the nuclear factor.

I’ve made the case before: George Bush has a deeply cynical side that is matched to the underlying realities of geopolitics (call it Machiavellian if you like, but I don’t think that exactly covers it). I learned this as I watched Iraq being used as a killing field for decimating the Islamic terrorist demographic. The invitation was out to come get some from U.S. forces.

Indeed, Bush purposely made Iraq into the "central front in the war on terror." He induced the terrorists to come defend the supposed Caliphate, and they came and they died, and then the Iraqis themselves turned on them.

Of course Bush champions Democracy, but that’s the long range strategy. After 9/11 there was a lot of very nasty work to be done, and historians aren’t likely to get the full picture for a quarter century, at least.

So I don’t think that Bush has any intention of using military force against Russia, but there is plenty of force available, even if not in the form of "strategic" ground forces.

That could change if the Russians get drunk on this adventure and decide it feels so good to be a big shot again that they make a move on Ukraine, something on that order. Then I think we might have a situation on our hands.

Written By: Martin McPhillips
Wow .. this from CNN ...
One thing Obama ought to see, however, and soon, is the tarmac at Honolulu International Airport. He needs to realize that, when you’re president, you’re not always in control of events, including vacations. If he fails to cut this holiday short, he might soon wind up being remembered as the guy who blew his chance to be president because he played on the beach while the Russian tanks rolled through Georgia.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Interesting tid-bit which could mean nothing.

3-4 F-16’s just flew over our offices headed for who knows where.

One person made the comment that the last time that happened around here, Desert Storm occurred shortly there-after.

We may not have a large reserve of ground forces to send to Georgia, but I would betcha good money that we’ve got plenty of air capacity to stop tanks and troops, and dominate the sky over there.
Written By: Keith_Indy
oh, not that that would necessarily be a good thing, just that we have options.

We don’t need ground troops in Georgia, because they already have ground troops. The Russians just need to be convinced to redeploy out of Georgia proper.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Just thought of this as a "solution."

If South Ossetia wants to split off, the only way it should be allowed is if North Ossetia is also split off of Russia, there-by creating the whole nation of Ossetia.

I doubt the Russians would go that far.
Written By: Keith_Indy
My hunch is that Obama is in Hawaii in the first place because he’s breaking down under the pressure of a lot of people not liking him.

He thought it was good sport to invoke "Booosh" every five minutes, as if he were taunting a caged ape.

Now he’s finding out what it feels like.

Remember, this is a guy who has never really done anything and gets by on bullsh*ting people.

He’s a buffoon mentalist, and he’s finding out that he’s run to the end of the leash that naturally attaches to that in a free society.

That’s just another reason I never want to see him on presidential steroids. His bruised narcissim would meld with his far Left reset point and his Chicago machine politics way and he’s liable to do things that are "out of character" in either of the two ways you might want to interpret that phrase.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
The ideal response would to take advantage of Russia being over-extended too.

Basically, where can Russia have trouble responding because of their action in Georgia, and screw with them there.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Well, one way to screw with them is to penalize investment in the Russian stock market. But, that would take the Euro-unions cooperation.
Russian stock markets rose Monday as investors focused on the long-term opportunities offered by Russia’s booming economy instead of the clash between Russia and Georgia over the separatist province of South Ossetia.

News of the fighting in the South Ossetia region on Friday sent Russia’s RTS stock index down 6.5 percent to a two-year low, but by market close Monday the index had regained 1.2 percent following Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement that the army had completed a "significant" part of its operations.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Another area to use leverage with them...
At the Pentagon, Gates described a broad humanitarian effort for Georgians displaced or harmed by the fighting. The relief effort is being run by the U.S. military, but Gates said there isn’t any need for U.S. fighting forces in Georgia.

He said the Bush administration last year started talks with Russia that officials hoped would develop a long-term strategic partnership. The idea was to give a backbone to the U.S. relationship with Russia across military, diplomatic and economic spheres. But Russia’s invasion of Georgia and the weeklong fighting that followed has called that into question, Gates said.
This is supposed to be a cease-fire???
Russian planes have attacked the runway of a military airfield near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

"Russian planes dropped several bombs on a military airfield not far from Tbilisi International Airport," the secretary of Georgia’s national security council, Alexander Lomaia, told AFP.

"There were no planes there, their task was to damage the runway," he added.
Written By: Keith_Indy
nm, about that last link it’s from Sunday. And yet the headline for the first link was originally "US Official: Russia bombing Georgian airfields" even though that wasn’t mentioned in the article.

They must have used the other story as a template, and just updated the text.
Written By: Keith_Indy
[Putin] had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power.

Did anybody seriously take "Western guarantees" seriously after Bosnia??? The Rooskies could invade Poland or the Baltic States or Germany and there’s nothing the Euros could - or would - do about it. It’s 1935 all over again, and Georgia is the Rhineland.
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
That could change if the Russians get drunk on this adventure and decide it feels so good to be a big shot again that they make a move on Ukraine, something on that order. Then I think we might have a situation on our hands.
We will also have a situation if any of the Russians or their proxy troops take a shot at any of our planes or ships currently delivering aid to Georgia.
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
Obviously its military capability, once woefully degraded, has been put back into some semblance of fighting form.

Well, even a woefully degraded Russian military capability can still overrun parts of Georgia; it’s not like Georgia has a gigantic military force, or the degradation of Russian forces affected their ability to send a few tank columns and ranks of APCs over a border.

They’ve been practicing in Chechnya recently enough ... just over the border from Ossetia.

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URL: http://
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