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Developments in Georgia
Posted by: McQ on Friday, August 22, 2008

While we await the announcement of Obama's VP candidate (why in the world announce it on a Friday afternoon? I guess in time for the Sunday shows.), some new things are happening in and around Georgia.

For one, Turkey okayed the passage of three American ships into the Black Sea:
In anticipation of the Russian withdrawal that Russian President Medvedev assured the world on August 19th would take place by Friday, August 22nd, and having received permission from the Turkish government to transit the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits, the United States announced that it would have three of its military vessels in the Black Sea of the coast of Georgia to perform humanitairan support for the people of Georgia in the next few days. The guided missile destroyer, USS McFaul, the Command and Control Ship, and flagship of the US 6th fleet, the USS Mount Whitney, and the US Coast Guard, high endurance cutter, USCGC Dallas, will all be in place in that time frame.
Go to the link and read about the ships. Very unique abilities - but with the DDG, also a capability of protecting themselves.

As we've mentioned, this is the first time Turkey has had to get involved and it allowed the passage of the ships. Although the 3 are really not a threat to any of Russia's Black Sea fleet, it does, I think, send a message to Russia that the neighbors are restless and nervous and their tolerance of the situation isn't open-ended.

On the ground, Russia has claimed it has completed its pull out from Georgia. The US immediately disputed that (the recon satellites don't lie).

As I mentioned they would, the Russians have put their own interpretation on what "pull-out" means and have also generously interpreted the cease-fire agreement as allowing them to establish combat outposts on Georgian territory.
There was no sign of Russian forces moving on into Russia from South Ossetia, underlining Tbilisi's concern that Moscow plans to maintain a large military presence in that province.

"The pullout was carried out without any incidents and was completed according to plan at 19:50 Moscow time," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"Peacekeeping checkpoints in the security zone (inside Georgia) have started carrying out the tasks set before them. In this way, the Russian side has implemented the agreements set out (by the presidents of Russia and France)," it said.
Meanwhile, back in the Black Sea, Ukraine is talking about banning Russian ships from returning to its ports if they took part in the Georgian campaign:
The Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, back from a visit to Georgia to offer support in its confrontation with Moscow, has introduced tougher regulations on the movements of Russian warships based in his ex-Soviet state. Long at odds with Moscow over its campaign to seek NATO membership, Ukraine's pro-Western leadership has issued statements backing Georgia's position and urging Russia to withdraw from the country's territory. The Foreign Ministry this week reserved the right to prevent ships from the Black Sea fleet returning to base in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula if they had taken part in military action.
Provocation enough for Russia to act? It certainly might be.

Far from over, this little dust up.
 
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Turkey is the key for any action in Georgia, so this is very interesting indeed. If Turkey is on board to allow logistics to go through Turkey, a defense of Georgia becomes possible. I suspect Turkey would like a strong buffer state in Georgia to keep Russia away and also to protect their BTC pipeline.
 
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