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Who’s to blame for the Russian Georgian war?

Pepe Escobar: Georgia is a strategic client state of the US with close ties to the Bush administration

Georgian troops launched an aerial bombardment and ground attack on its separatist province of South Ossetia on Thursday. South Ossetians want to join up with their ethnic brethren in North Ossetia, an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. Seeing this as an act of aggression Russia launched bombing raids against Georgia, vowing to defend its citizens. More than half of South Ossetia’s citizens are said to have taken up Moscow’s offer of a Russian passport. Pepe Escobar believes that “the hypocrisy of the international community knows no bounds for if the West forced the issue of Kosovar independence then the independence of South Ossetia should also be on the cards.”

Transcript

PEPE ESCOBAR, SENIOR ANALYST: If you believe the very, very loud hordes of Russian-haters in the US—politicians, lobbyists, corporate media—we are back to the Cold War, and the Russian bear is behaving like the invasion of Hungary in ’56 and Czechoslovakia in ’68. Well, this is absolute rubbish. To understand the real story, let’s take a look at the map. Georgia is a strategic so-called democracy in the Caucasus since the 2003 US-engineered Rose Revolution. It wants to be part of NATO, it provides the US with 2,000 troops in Iraq, it wants to be part of US missile defense shield, and it hosts a stretch of the BTC pipeline, the Baku-to-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey. Basically, it’s a US client state in the middle of the Caucasus. Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president, unpopular at home, implicated in monstrous corruption scandals, thought the Beijing Olympics gave him a fabulous opening to solve the problems Georgia has with separatist South Ossetia, since 1989, for that matter. So he staged a surprise invasion supported by the US. If we look at the map, we see that North Ossetia is in Russia and South Ossetia is in Georgia. Only 82,000 people. They don’t want independence; they want to unite with North Ossetia. The last referendum in the region was in November 2006. Ninety-one percent of attendance. Ninety-nine percent, they voted for union with North Ossetia and Russia. And the referendum was totally ignored by Georgia, the US, and in Europe. Once Saakashvili decided to attack South Ossetia last week, he was applying Pentagon tactics. US troops had just finished teaching Georgians how to ethnically cleanse an area. That was part of the so-called, I quote, “Georgian-US Immediate Response 2008 Military Exercises.” This whole thing ended less than two weeks ago, on July 31. Saakashvili’s game was to smash South Ossetia. In fact, his troops killed more than 2,000 civilians, destroyed the capital, Tskhinvali, killed 10 Russian peacekeepers, at least, provoked an exodus of 35,000 people to North Ossetia. He wanted to profit from the spotlight being on the Olympics, of course, but he also had to solve two huge problems: NATO does not accept states involved in territorial disputes, and the Bush administration, key supporters of Georgia, is on the way out. The Russians saw this for what it was, a search-and-destroy mission, ethnic cleansing, and a huge provocation to boot. After all, Russian citizens were killed—99 percent of the population of South Ossetia is ethnically Russian. For the Russians, this is exactly what the West said was happening in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and they saw it, the Russians, as a test-run for the breakup of the Russian Caucasus. Does that all remind us of Kosovo? Yes, it does. But Ossetia is not Kosovo, as the Russians are the first to tell us. The hypocrisy of this so-called international community knows no bounds. If the US and Europe actually forced the independence of Kosovo, they should have to admit that the independence of South Ossetia and the other separatist Georgian province, Abkhazia, is also in the cards. And then there’s oil and pipelines. That’s where the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline fits in. The pipeline is just one factor in a much, much bigger picture. And that’s the attempt sponsored by the US, and joined by many other former Soviet satellites, to cripple all traces of Russian influence, economic, politic, diplomatic, military, not only in the Caucasus, but in Central Asia as well. To believe that Russia would accept any of this is to live in Fantasy Land like US corporate media, or Brzezinski, for that matter, former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter, an informal advisor to Barack Obama. The McCain campaign is infested with Rusophobia. McCain wants to expel Russia from the G8. But Brzezinski may be even more dangerous. This is the guy who gave the Soviets their Vietnam in Afghanistan, facilitating the rebirth of radical jihadist Islam. Brzezinski’s the godfather of al-Qaeda. Brzezinski now says that the Russian invasion of Georgia—and he forgets to say that it was Georgia that attacked South Ossetia first—is like Stalin’s attack on Finland. Well, we should not forget that Brzezinski himself negotiated the BTC pipeline in Baku in the mid-’90s. The Russians will not bomb his pipeline as it has been reported—not a single confirmation in the Russian press or international agencies. What the Russians want is to teach Saakashvili a lesson. In essence, George Bush, enjoying his swimming competitions in Beijing, is not in a position to say anything to Vladimir Putin. What Putin is more or less saying to the US and to Europe is that South Ossetia should do what the population of South Ossetia wants: independence from Georgia, a new referendum, union with North Ossetia, which is the ethnic twin of South Ossetia on the northern side of the Caucasus Mountains. Saakashvili, well, he can scream in English on CNN as much as he wants. He’s already being blamed by the Georgian opposition for his reckless adventure. He was also blamed because he ignored that US badly needs Russia to solve the Iranian nuclear dossier. And he’s being blamed because he ignored that Europe is in the middle of a very complex negotiation with Russia for access to Russian gas—Europe depends on Russian gas. As for Russian hawks with a Cold War mentality, and there are plenty, Dick Cheney said that Russia’s actions in Georgia, I quote, “must not go unanswered.” Well, maybe he should take Putin for some quality quail hunting.

Bio

Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.

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According Russian media reports, some 2,000 people have been killed — including Russian peacekeepers — by Georgian military in the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali, during the operation “Clear Field”.

34,000 South Ossetians refugees have flooded into Russian North Ossetia region.

Photos of Tskhinvali after the war

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Two controversial footages taken 14.08.08

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Georgia vs Russia: CNN lies, see the truth

Georgia lies: information war against Russia

“Gori in ruins”? See for yourself

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REUTERS Fox News CNN are bunch of liars ! War in S. Ossetia

A Georgian woman cries near body her relative after bombardment in Gori
Caption: A Georgian woman cries near the body her relative after a bombardment in Gori, 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 9, 2008. A Russian warplane dropped a bomb on an apartment block in the Georgian town of Gori on Saturday, killing at least 5 people, a Reuters reporter said. The bomb hit the five-story building in Gori close to Georgia’s embattled breakaway province of South Ossetia when Russian warplanes carried out a raid against military targets around the town. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (GEORGIA)
Byline: GLEB GARANICH
Country: Georgia
Date created: 2008-08-09
Fixture ID: GM1E48918WL01
File processed at: 2008-08-09 08:12:36 UTC
This is a Reuters low resolution reference image with id: GM1E48918WL01.

For access to the full resolution picture file please click here requesting picture reference id:GM1E48918WL01.

To see the current Reuters news picture service, click here
A Georgian woman cries next to the body of her son in the town of Gori
Caption: A Georgian woman cries next to the body of her son in the town of Gori, 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 9, 2008. A Russian warplane dropped a bomb on an apartment block in the Georgian town of Gori on Saturday, killing at least 5 people, a Reuters reporter said. The bomb hit the five-story building in Gori close to Georgia’s embattled breakaway province of South Ossetia when Russian warplanes carried out a raid against military targets around the town. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA)
Byline: DAVID MDZINARISHVILI
Country: Georgia
Date created: 2008-08-09
Fixture ID: GM1E4891ADB01
File processed at: 2008-08-09 08:38:38 UTC
This is a Reuters low resolution reference image with id: GM1E4891ADB01.

For access to the full resolution picture file please click here requesting picture reference id:GM1E4891ADB01.

To see the current Reuters news picture service, click here

The photos of georgian victims are FAKE

“Boys don’t cry”: “a heavily wounded” teenager remains calm and doesn’t scream while soldiers are carrying him above the “corpse” of a “killed” woman.
Fake photo 4 by Reuters - Boys dont cry

At first glance it seems that two Georgian soldiers carry a heavily wounded boy.
The boy’s right foot is covered with blood which shows that the wound was heavy and painful.
But look closely to the boy’s face: he is not screaming, his face shows no suffering, no negative emotions.
On the contrary, the boy watches somewhere to the side with interest, squinting right.
By the way the “blood” has flooded richly the boy’s leg but not a single drop of “blood” has got at his white shoes!
Is that possible?
It’s impossible; therefore all listed photos by the news agency “Reuters” are fake.

It’s odd, why do “Reuters” call itself a “news agency”?

Considering the fact that it likes different “tricks” I would rather call it a “circus agency”.

Anyone of you can take dozens of such “documents” at your backyard or at the city junkyard with simple photocamera.

Reuters tells blatant lies to people and a number of other western mass media (such as CNN, BBC, MSNBC and many others) repeats this lie.

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Saakashvili eats own tie

Saakashvili might have lost the war against Russia, but, scant consolation perhaps, he is widely seen to have won the propaganda battle. Big bad Russia against plucky little Georgia. Accurate or nonsense, thanks to “Misha’s” Brussels-based PR men, it is the picture that’s dominating the world media.

Saakashvili has waged a one-man battle for public opinion, popping up daily on TV screens as if his words can make a difference against the might of the Russian army. The appearances are short but never fail to yield a sound bite for the world’s media.

Today, the American-educated Saakashvili sounded almost Churchillian. No matter how much Russia tries to undermine us, he said, we will never surrender. His rhetoric was even starker when he accused Russia of trying to “murder a small country”.

So far, Georgians have rallied in support of their leader in the face of the Russian onslaught, but once the dust has settled, they might well decide that having a man all too ready to take risks on their behalf is not such a good idea. Moreover, despite his self-portrait as a democrat, Saaskashvili, who succeeded Eduard Shevardnadze in the so-called rose revolution in 2003, has an authoritarian streak.

Although Saakashvili and his small circle of young advisers have won kudos for battling corruption in Georgia and boosting the economy, political opponents have been thrown into jail under his presidency. Last year, he surprised his American backers by declaring a 15-day state of emergency after battles between riot police and demonstrators protesting against the postponement of parliamentary elections. Those critics are quiet for now. But once the crisis subsides, it should come as no surprise if the knives come out once more following Saakashvilis’s misadventure in South Ossetia.

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Here, four Russian citizens share their views on international perceptions of the country following the fighting.

ANDREY KROUPNIK, 28, ANLAYST AT INVESTMENT BANK, MOSCOW

Andrey says nobody was in the right over the war

Andrey says nobody was in the right over the war

There are no good guys here. Not Saakashvili, not Putin, not the South Ossetian separatists, not the politicians from the West.

I believe the Georgians were reacting to provocation from Ossetian separatists, and the situation gave Russian forces the chance to make their presence felt in Georgia.

But there is no justification for Saakashvili to order the attack on South Ossetia as it was bound to lead to civilian deaths.

From what I’ve read he’s just as bad as Putin.

This situation is analogous to Kosovo, where separatists there provoked action from Milosevic and Serbia. He was called a war criminal, but Saakashvili is seen as the victim in the West.

The media coverage has been biased on both sides. I expect this from the mainstream Russian media – but not from Western media. The only information I can rely on is independent Russian news sites.

There was a lack of historical context in much of the Western media and the overwhelming sense that Russia was to blame.

The reaction from the international community merely plays into Putin’s hand. He wants Russia to be feared and respected. Condemnation from the West results in ordinary Russians rallying behind the government.

NADEZHDA ERMAKOVA, 24, TEACHER, EKATERINBURG

Nadezhda Ermakova

Russians don’t have anything against Georgians, says Nadezhda

When the fighting began I was in Spain and the reports I saw did not explain the situation fairly.

For some years in Russia we have been watching how Georgia was buying armaments and sending more soldiers to the border with South Ossetia.

And when Russia responded to protect people in South Ossetia, the US government paints the picture of Russia as a huge, bad, anti-democratic state that only wants to suppress its neighbours.

But we don’t want to suppress our neighbours. The Russian people don’t have anything against the Georgians. Can’t Russia protect its people? I am Russian and I want my country to protect me if necessary.

I don’t know what will happen in the future.

I don’t care if Georgia joins Nato, the only thing that is important for me is not to see all these people suffering. I want peace.

TATIANA SOKOLOVA, 24, PhD STUDENT, MOSCOW

Tatiana Sokolova

Tatiana says Russia lost the media war

Russia simply couldn’t have stayed out of this conflict.

The Ossetians did not carry out any action that could have justified the Georgian assault and civilian death.

For such a long time Ossetians and Georgians lived side-by-side and never felt hatred against each other.

My grandmother is a Georgian and she has many Ossetian friends in Tskhinvali. From the very beginning of this disastrous campaign she was trying to contact them in floods of tears.

She would never believe that Georgians would attack Ossetians without any serious motive or provocation.

The intentional reaction has been unfairly anti-Russian. But maybe this is to be expected, since Georgia is an ally of the West.

Most Russians support the government and the Ossetians. But Russia has lost the international media war.

The coverage I saw in Western media was biased, with reports emphasising Russia’s aggressive stance without underlining that Georgia began the war. There was little coverage of the suffering people in Tskhinvali.

But again this is to be expected. For years commentators in the West have speculated about Moscow’s lust for power and its wish to expand its territory, painting the relationship between Russia and America in Cold War cliches.

NIKOLAY ZYLYAEV, 36, VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS, MOSCOW

I was a pro-Western guy but now I have seen the real face of Western countries toward Russia – double-standards and hypocrisy.

Western countries always said they wanted to see a strong Russia – but really they want to see us weak. As Russia recovered from the chaos of the ’90s, Nato expanded up to the edge of our borders.

I expect to see the West continue to act against Russia in the future

America can do anything it wants – bomb Serbia, bomb Iraq. But when Russia acts to defend the people of South Ossetia it is in the wrong. Russia is always seen as the guilty one, the aggressive one.

I have watched Western coverage of the war and there seemed to be no reflection of the Russian viewpoint.

In short, we lost the information war. Maybe we should try and learn something from President [Mikhail] Saakashvili.

I blame the pro-Washington leadership in Georgia. The Russia and Georgian people have more than a century of friendship.

I have friends in Georgia and I hear internal tension is growing there and the opposition will move against the government in the near future.

I expect to see the West continue to act against Russia in the future. But I think we have become stronger after this episode. We are united behind the government.

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