South Ossetia

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Will the Sec, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    What ever your political persuasion, please pray tonight.

    The world does not need another war, and the people of Georgia definitely do not.

    I hope peace and common sense will prevail.
  2. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Least of all one that could so easily turn into a horrible, drawn-out war of attrition like Chechnya.

    There can be no winners in this conflict - only losers. The political and ethnic issues run so deep and have been buried so long that conflict can't resolve anything. And the Russians getting militarily involved has just made things worse. The issues we're now seeing resurface were first buried when Georgia was subsumed into the CCCP and have been bubbling under for around 90 years.

    Now that russian troops are in there, there's no way nato or the UN can step in to try and calm things down without almost certainly finding themselves directly opposed to Russia over certain issues - which isn't an enviable position to be in, or one that can create anything but further political and military tension. And after the sour taste in international relations left by the international policy held by russia which led to the Litvinenko affair and the ensuing political stonewall, it's not like relations between Russia and the west are exactly at their warmest at the moment.

    Careful diplomacy and international aid to the innocent civillians are needed. One can only hope that the Russian troops are used carefully to defuse tension rather than create it. It's pretty obvious that the South Ossetian people want them there and if used correctly, they could be a great stabilising influence while the wheels of diplomacy turn - although judging by today's headlines the's looking less and less likely to be the case.

    Agreed, Will, prayers for a quick end to the conflict are certainly needed.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Any naïve ideas that we might have had about Putin having democratically relinquished power in favour of Medvedev are put firmly in place by his actions here - Putin's the man on the spot, Medvedev's nowhere to be seen.

    At least nations don't seem to be interested in turning this into a Sarajevo 1914 moment...
  4. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    A Russian fight in Russia's own backyard. Leave them to it. And to be honest, Georgia precipitated the current conflict.

    No-one batted an eyelid when the US moved to secure the Panama Canal or to force a regime change in Grenada.
  5. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    That makes it all a bit simplistic, John.

    Georgia hacks of Russia by (a) existing, (b) opening a pipeline that allows oil to bypass Russia and Iran on the way from the Caspian Sea to the Med, (c) opening up another one, and (d) having a president that courts (i) the west generally, (ii)Europe and (iii) NATO.

    According to the UN, no-one actually disputes that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are in Georgia.

    That there is a proportion of Russian friendly factions in both areas is down to history, and in the case of the South Ossetians forced relocation by the Russians after the set up of the Soviet Republic of Georgia in 1921.

    Russia has been baiting Saakashvili ever since he came to power and said he was going to get back "all Georgian territories". Especially difficult to justify is the handing out of Russian passports to around 30,000 South Ossetians - likely the same 30,000 who have now fled. It's like America giving 3/7 of the Canadian populace USA passports, and then saying it had the right to intervene in Canada "to protect its Citizen's".

    Saakashvili would be better advised to let the Russians have the blessed areas if they really want them, but in return for economic concessions that would have stabilised his country.

    Don't get me wrong - Georgia has a lot to answer for in this conflict, Russia is equally culpable - and I side with neither. The actions and reactions are way over the top.

    My ongoing worry is that the losers in this war will be the people who always lose out.

    Civilians, especially the young, the elderly, and the infirm.
  6. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    As well as the humanitatian tragedy, what should concern the international community is that governments of the newly created states from the old iron curtain who have made overtures to europe and Nato are quickly being stomped on by russia, either politically and militarily such as Georgia and Chechnya - or economically, such as the Ukraine. And the western powers are letting it happen because Russia has enormous oil and gas reserves so we need to keep them sweet while they supply us.

    A semi-return to the Iron Curtain is far from out of the question - and probably exactly what Putin wants.
  7. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I was merely trying to point out that there is no way we should get involved in a real live shooting war against a country that still has almost 3000 nuclear warheads and the political will to use them if required. Things have changed since the cold war days but in my opinion the old russian bear never went away, just went into hibernation. Russia is getting rich on its natural resources and now no longer wants the world domination that the Soviets craved but they also seem to suffer from a perceived inferiority complex with the west and the USA in particular. Putin is simply placing down a marker to let us know that they're still there. This little spat is as much to do with oil supply as our one in Iraq. The sooner Europe releases itself from energy dependence on Russia the better it will be for all of us.
  8. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    There is no need to defend your comments, John - we all hold views on this (from "I don't give a monkey's" through "it's all about the oil" to "my wife's family is in danger"), and everyone should be heard.

    And your point about us fighting a country with serious firepower is well made - and makes a mockery of a little minnow like Saakashvili's Georgia attempting it.
  9. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    I just hope that some ending be seen soon. there's people starving out theree. As usual the innocents. I think that no-one is too sure who started this conflict, are they?
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    But on the other hand Russia appears quite happy to replay Sudetenland 1938.

    Vladimir Putin is a total b*****d who loves the mediaeval mindset that he inherited from his KGB training. And a very good one too, unfortunately for a peaceful world. How about this for a cold-bloodedly brutal buck-passing quote on the current situation?

    Those are the words of a man who knows he can do what he likes, and who knows that not many people outside Russia will like what he does, and who, knowing that, simply does not care.

    Will, are Nina's family safe? I had temporarily forgotten that you had a personal connection.
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    This 5 minute editing limit rule is a great pain in the bottom. I would like to modify the second paragraph of the above post to read:

    Vladimir Putin is a hard hard man who fully embraces the mediaeval mindset that he inherited from his KGB training. And he is very good at it too, unfortunately for a peaceful world. How about this for a cold-bloodedly brutal buck-passing quote on the current situation?

    5 minutes has always seemed excessively strict to me - 30 would be more reasonable.
  12. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Well apparently Russian President Medvedev has put his head above the parapet and said that he has ordered an end to Russian operations in Georgia. It remains to be seen if that means a withdrawal of all forces back to their positions on Thursday night.

    Will, I truly hope your relatives in the area are safe.
  13. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Doesn't seem to offer much hope for the long term stability of the area though does it? The statement that if pockets of resistance emerge his troops should "Take the decision to crush them" shows he's in no way conceded a ceasefire.

    Expect there to be heavy pressure on Georgia to appoint a more pro-russian leader in the not-too distant future.

    As Johnmartin says, whilever we're tied to ever dwindling fossil fuels, the governments of the west will be willing to turn a blind eye to nefarious practice and such blatant gunboat diplomacy as this, so long as the oil keeps flowing. I notice our own parliamentary personnell have been suspiciously silent on the issue.

    Time for national government to invest properly in renewable energy, cracking nuclear fusion, wind power, solar power and everything else, rather than the token tuppeny-ha'penny jobs we currently get. Plus if anyone's main objection to a windfarm is "they spoil the view" then they really should shut up and get some sense of perspective in my opinion. You'd rather have Drax powerstation next door I suppose? Or no power at all when the oil runs out? Give me a break.

    Will, I had no idea you had a personal connection to the whole situation. It's pretty standard practice for me as a history and politics graduate with no personal issue involved to dispassionately look at the big picture at the expense of detail, and I hope it didn't seem I was ignoring of all those who are suffering and dying in the area. It's the only way I know how to look at a situation like this.

    Allow me to Echo Johnmartin's statement about your relatives. I really hope they're safe and well.
  14. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    My in laws were thankfully well away from it all, some 40 miles West of Tbilisi in Telavi. (I say thankfully. Had mum been in Tbilisi, she'd have kicked Saakashvili's backside by now!) They did see Russian Bombers flying towards Tbilisi when the wasteland near the airport was symbolically bombed.

    The Red Cross estimate 100.000 people displaced in SO and nearby Georgia, and whilst that's small fry compared to Pakistan and Bangladesh it's a massive issue for such a small country.

    Thanks for your concern, folks.
  15. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    40 EAST of Tbilisi. 40 miles West they'd have been deep in trouble.

    *Thinks* Must nail these....

  16. yorkie19

    yorkie19 Active Member

    This isn't anything new, sadly. The conflicts in a lot of Eastern Europe and Central Asia stem from historic conflicts and perceived wrongs. The establishment of various Empires over the years has done very little except frustrate the need for revenge.

    Andy, you are right to talk about Georgia being absorbed into the USSR in 1921. However, at the time the Soviet Union saw this as re-asserting the boundries of the Russian Empire which had existed prior to the October Revolution of 1917.

    Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1800 at the 'request' of the Georgian King. However, there was a treaty in place prior to this which afforded Georgia the protection of the Russian Empire (and it had been ransacked by the Persians previously).

    When the CIS was finally broken up, there were warning bells sounded about future conflicts. While I was a student at SSEES, a lot of the staff there believed that a major conflict involving Ukraine, Georgia and Russia would happen, and that it was a question of when and not if.

    Luckily, Medvedev seems to have reigned Putin in on this occassion, and maybe we will see a warming of relations between Russia and it's neighbours (and Russia and the West) with a new President in Moscow and a new President in Washington.

    However, even if Putin is kept on a short leash, there are plenty of aspiring politicians in Moscow who believe that the way to power is to re-invent the glory days of the Uncle Joe, and that the best way to do this is to flex military muscle.

    Will, I believe you are right, though. For all that it is easy to paint Russia as the bad guy here (much like the old days), Saakashvilli hasn't helped matters. Unfortunately, much like Putin, he appears to be another leader more concerned with his legacy than the genuine advancement of the people he leads.

    The key to all of this is not to allow the West to become embroiled in a military operation, but to act as peacemakers. Thankfully, this conflict looks like it has reached resolution, and good ol' George W won't be given a chance to start a third conflict. Hopefully calm heads and cool hearts will continue to dominate this arena, and the Abkhazian and South Ossetian regions can move to some form of autonomous government.
  17. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    How ironic that Stalin was himself Georgian by birth.
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Which touches on something that I've always found intriguing as a commonality amongst aggressive European rulers of recent history -

    Stalin was Georgian and led Russia
    Hitler was Austrian and led Germany
    Napoleon was Corsican and led France

    There's probably quite a profound point there if somebody can find it.
  19. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Oh no, Gordon Brown is Scottish....
  20. yorkie19

    yorkie19 Active Member

    Even more ironic is that Stalin's father was Ossetian.

Share This Page