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Report: Georgia May Have Sparked War With Russia

POSTED: 02:11 PM ET, 11/ 7/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Accounts by European observers monitoring August's Georgia-Russia war have cast doubt on pro-Western Georgian claims that it was attacked first, The New York Times reported.

Members of an international team working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conducted two closed-door briefings in August and October to discuss what happened; The Times obtained summaries of both meetings and confirmed the findings with Western diplomats.

Although the newly-reported accounts aren't conclusive, and Georgian leaders have questioned their validity, they appear to show that Georgia's young and relatively inexperienced military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7, "exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm." That attack laid the groundwork for Russian aggression.

The brief nine-day war was disastrous for Georgia, and Russian forces occupied the small country for weeks afterward.

Dissatisfaction within Georgia over the country's handling of the war resulted in a protest by thousands of people in Georgia's capital today, the first since August. [Editor's Note: Number of protesters corrected 11/10/08]

Opposition movements have demanded an explanation from the government for the mistakes of the war, while calling for President Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation.

The war also worsened relations between Russia and the United States, which has publicly backed Georgia and moved quickly with plans to develop a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic to counter possible Iranian attacks, The Wall Street Journal reports. Russia has objected to the plans and promised to install short-range missiles at its western border.

Likewise, in his first nationwide speech Wednesday morning, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called U.S. foreign policy "selfish" and cited the country's "economic blunders," which he said led to the global financial crisis.

In his 85-minute speech, Medvedev said his country's war with Georgia had been "among other things, the result of the arrogant course of the U.S. administration which hates criticism and prefers unilateral decisions."

By Derek Kravitz |  November 7, 2008; 2:11 PM ET
Previous: Emanuel's Role at Freddie Mac, Pleas Filed in Obama Plot, Post-Campaign Complaints | Next: Picks of the Week: Student No-Shows and South Ossetian War

Comments

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First and Foremost, I am an American who believes that the Bush Administration's policies have caused a lot of havoc at home and abroad. I wish it were not so, but the evangelical take over of the Republican Party and the Government is shameful. The evangelical belief that these are end times and we are headed for god to come down forced their puppet Bush to try many things. It benefit them immensely. If they were right, they would money before the end. If they were wrong they would make money anyway.

It is the rest of us that suffered. It will be up to the new government to reconcile with Russia and the rest of the world. It is time for peace without the dogma of religion. It is time for prosperity for everyone willing to work without the selfishness of the religious nuts. It is time for universal protection for all animals and this planet without the stupidity of god says so to go out an multiply so we do!

It is time for the arrogance of christians to stop. There are more ways to worship the creator and be moral than their way!

BTW, Georgia's president did start the war!
Why is it not obvious? He was set up by Bush to start something for the republican agenda!

Posted by: sydney2 | November 7, 2008 3:15 PM

Why is the United States still giving billions of taxpayer dollars in unconditional aid to Saakashvili, rewarding him for what the NYT is now reporting was an indiscriminate attack on civilians?

While it's good that the media are beginning to take a look at what really happened during the Georgian government's assault on South Ossetia, it is time for the U.S. government and the American people to find out what Georgia’s u.s. trained and equipped military really did.

Sen. Hillary Clinton needs to push her bill S.3567. This bill, which is currently referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee, seeks to examine the causes of the conflict and make recommendations about U.S. policy. Sen. Clinton must ensure that the American people get a full and fair hearing on what happened in August.

(For more information on the August war, and many eyewitness accounts, go to truthforossetia.org.)

Posted by: TruthForOssetia | November 7, 2008 5:11 PM

WP writes: "exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm." That attack laid the groundwork for Russian aggression."

The last time I checked, "aggression" referred to preemptive or unprovoked hostility. Georgia initiated hostilities and killed Russian peacekeepers. Russia responded by sending about 10,000 troops against Georgia's 28,000-strong US-trained army. Russia's response was entirely justified and the scope of its military action was limited to achieving specific tactical goals.

Posted by: venik4 | November 9, 2008 6:38 AM

And can we ask why Cheney was dispatched so readily to Georgia and why we appropriated money to Georgia so quickly and unequivocally?
Why does Cheney's involvement strike me as suspicious?

Posted by: NotInsane | November 9, 2008 9:37 AM

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