Georgia claims Russia attacked it again

Georgia is claiming that Russia has attacked its territory, after a bomb or missile was launched at the village of Tsitelubani yesterday.  Whatever it was, it didn’t explode.

“Our radars show that these jets flew from Russia and then flew back in the same direction that they had come from.  I assess this fact as an act of aggression carried out by planes flown from the territory of another state,” said Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s Interior Minister. 

Russia, of course, denies the claim. 

Did they do it?  Who knows.  I can think of a number of reasons why Russia might have wanted to order such an attack, and even more reasons why they woudn’t.  I can think of a fair few reasons as to why Georgia might want to discredit Russia, and I can think of a couple of places the attack might have come from that aren’t even in Russia.

I expect a war of words followed by another UN investigation which, like the last one which examined whether Russian helicopters had attacked Georgia, firmly avoids drawing any firm conclusions.

Perhaps, instead, its time for the UN monitoring mission in the region to be equipped with radars, instead of bureaucrats in uniforms?

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19 Responses

  1. Aleks says:

    Jumping both feet in to some wild speculation, it might even be…a fuel tank…

    The Georgians are hilarious though. Hardly a week goes by without claiming that their country had faced Russians ‘provocations’. MosNews used to report all these. My favorite story was about the surface to air missile that was strapped to a tree, clearly an attempt to assassinate high officials as it was on their helicopter flight
    paths.

    I suppose they have to do something so that ‘the World’ doesn’t forget who they are. As for all the military training and NATO support, if Georgia launched an operation to ‘take back’ S. Ossetia, how would their soldiers fare against battle hardened Chechens (who would no doubt appear ‘as if by magic’)???

    A great picture of Yushenko and Sakaasvili holding hands in the eXile (foul mouthed an opinionated that it is): http://www.exile.ru/2007-June-15/

    On a different note, I wonder when the Meskhetian turks will be allowed to return….

  2. Aleks says:

    Though I spake too soon: Apparently there is a bill currently going through parliament to help the Meskhetian’s to return, supported by the government, opposed by the opposition(!): http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2007/06/profile-meskhetian-turks.html

    Why now and what for? Is it PR (knowing that the bill would never become law) for brownie points?

    The turkish article, though, fails to mention that initially, Turkey had offered to resettle several hundred Meskhetians, but then changed their minds a bit later…

  3. Jesse says:

    I’m sorry, but Georgia is so pathetic how they react to these events, regardless of whether Russia did it or not. Aren’t we glad, though, that Georgia is not a NATO member – if it was, then surely the collective security provision would be triggered?

  4. Aleks says:

    …Turns out to be an AS-11 ARM…but whose?

  5. At midnite Aug. 9, NY time, RTTV featured a Georgian military official wearing American military fatigues. In peffect English, he said the exploded device was “Russian made” and from the 19 seventies. The segment didn’t note how Russia didn’t exist as a nation back then, when Goergia and it were part of the USSR.

    RTTV did note that Georgia has launched a series of similar actions against South Ossetia, which has many Russian citizens. In not too distant memory, Israel (in Lebanon) and Turkey (in Iraq) have bombed their respective neighbor on matters related to perceived national interests. To date, post Soviet Russia hasn’t caused significant damage to another country via bombings. This contrasts with some of the mentioned Israeli and Turkish actions.

    The referenced RTTV segment seemed to portray the anti-Saakashvili Georgian opposition as an extremist fringe.

    To digress a bit, while remaining on the topic of media coverage, here’s a commentary from a largely Russian government funded news org:

    http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20070720/69361202.html

  6. Aleks says:

    A bit more info. From Reuters via Yahoo! (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20070809/tpl-uk-russia-georgia-usa-43a8d4)_2.html)

    “Earlier on Wednesday, a Georgian official who wished not to be identified said the missile was ditched by a Russian jet trespassing in Georgian air space after friendly forces in South Ossetia fired an anti-aircraft missile at the jet by mistake.”

    This still doesn’t make any sense. The missile has a range of 120km, so why risk the lives of the airmen by flying so close? ‘Ditched’ means dropped, but we are told it is in response to a missile fired by mistake, ergo the AS-11 was fired? Who’s ‘friendly forces’ btw? Georgia’s? If so, then the Russians were responding to provocation.

    Another point should be noted, it is clear that the russians are carrying out regular patrols as nato is next door (the ‘threat’), hence the Sukhois have the right kind of missile to respond.

    It looks to me that a ‘mistake’ happened and the georgians are milking it for all it is worth (regardless of fault), hence the vague and contradictory comments, least of all by the ‘unidentified’ georgian official above. Maybe the georgians were upset because they haven’t been in the news recently and wanted some media love? As for the US ‘condemnation’, it’s just easy points scoring by a battered administration…

  7. Aleks says:

    According to DPA (http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1341034.php/Poland_demands_international_probe_into_Georgian_mystery_rocket) the “Poland has expressed ‘deep concern’ over a rocket which violated Georgian air space..”

    I was sure ‘someone’ was claiming that russian aircraft had violated its airspace… IF this is true (i.e. russian aircraft did NOT violate georgian airspace (by reduction)), then one begs to ask why the claim was made in the first place… Especially now that the georgians have their shiny new NATO radars…

  8. Aleks says:

    According to Pravda.ru (http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/09-08-2007/95880-russian_georgian_relations-0) , Ariel Cohen says:

    “There is still lack of clarity in terms of who and how delivered the missile. Was it fired or jettisoned, and why it did not explode? If it is proven that a Russian air force jet was deliberately targeting a Georgian radar station near Gori, it sure looks like an act of aggression. ..”

    So we have a radar station @gori, or more precisely ~1.5km south from Shavshvebi (42° 1’19.00″N 44°13’29.00″E) where the missile ‘fell’ (doesn’t show up on google earth), is about 62km from Shavshvebi WSW.

    Could this be a game of chicken that got out of hand?

    From http://eng.expert.ru/articles/2007/08/07/georg_rf/

    Contradictions from the georgians: [my inserts]
    1: “…The head of the Internal Affairs Ministry, Vano Merabishvili, reported that there was one Su-24 jet and that it launched the guided missile”

    2: “…. According to the version of the Georgian government minister for conflict settlement, David Bakradze, there were two Su-25 jets, they flew to the borders of South Ossetia from Russian territory and inflicted two missile bomb strikes on a Georgian radar facility situated in the conflict zone…[georgians have su-25s, factory in tblisi used to build & overhall them]

    and 3: “…Peacekeepers [Russian peacekeepers, CO Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov] in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone saw a plane launch a missile after it was fired at in South Ossetia. The peacekeepers were unable to identify the plane, but saw some kind of object fall from it which resembled a fuel tank or a bomb…Andrey Fomin, chief editor of Vzlet magazine, expressed serious doubts to Expert Online that military personnel could confuse a tank with a bomb since they have different shapes. Also, a bomb is of a black color, and tanks are silvery…”

    4: “..Salomey Zurabishvili, the ex-minister for foreign affairs in Georgia and leader of the party The Path of Georgia (Put Gruzii), today announced that it is possible a Georgian jet dropped the bomb…”

    Salome a french national of georgian descent who was in the french government and “allowed” a few years back to work for the georgian governement and negotiated (amongst other things) the early withdrawl of russian troops from Georgia. Apparently she was fired because she couldn’t be ‘owned’ (i.e. had no clan allegiance and was thus a liablity)…(www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/11/0794f3b7-8466-49a5-abbb-c896c1ba94de.html ), now leads an opposition party and is ‘highly regarded’. Apparently hasn’t made much of a dent in the political scene.

    Strange things are afoot at the CircleK.

  9. Aleks says:

    AFP: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Georgia_And_Russia_Deadlocked_Over_Mystery_Missile_Strike_999.html

    Salient points:

    “…Georgia’s minister for conflict resolution, David Bakradze, released a report he said was written by…(OSCE)…military observers in Georgia at the time of Monday’s incident saw one aircraft flying from the northeast…Other monitors reported seeing a plane fly from southwest to northeast, the report said…document was genuine…”an internal report that does not represent the position of the OSCE.””

    The OSCE is officilly holding its breath then.

    Though “…Russia also accused Georgia of tampering with evidence….Major General Marat Kulakhmetov, said that Georgian officials had removed “all the main pieces of the explosive device” before investigators arrived at the scene…” but the Georgians claim “..that part of the missile had simply been destroyed for safety as it “contained a large quantity of TNT.”..”

    So, evidence was destroyed. Normally the site would be surrounded by sandbags and nothing touched until experts were on the scene, which makes one wonder how US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs can call for “Georgia [to] undertake a credible investigation.

    Though the US position is overtly supportive of Georgia, it is still tempered and far from outright backing. What is the fall back???

  10. Aleks says:

    Wikipedia related page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Georgia_missile_incident

    Of note (but from another source that I’ve temporarily lost) is that the Georgians claim the missile had ‘burn marks’ around the rocket ehxausts. This is quite curious if we a

  11. Aleks says:

    Wikipedia related page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Georgia_missile_incident

    Of note (but from another source that I’ve temporarily lost) is that the Georgians claim the missile had ‘burn marks’ around the rocket ehxausts.

    This is quite curious if we accept the western experts view (NATO experts that is) that Russia ‘dropped’ the missile. Burn marks would indicate actively firing the missile.

    Still no explanations as to what would cause the firing of an anti-radar missile and no mention so far from the Georgian side that their radar acquired/locked any aircraft.

    Apparently the Russians are now looking at the site and have presented their side. I don’t see this causing much hay at the UN.

  12. Aleks says:

    Reading link 23 (??????) from the wikipedia page (if I understood it correctly), it turns out that the missile number was destroyed when the missile hit the ground and the Russians say that they were ‘shown’ a wing fragment of a soviet built X-58, it was not titanium, which was the metal used in the production of Soviet X-58s. Curiouser and curiouser

  13. Aleks says:

    More strange things afoot.

    In this article by AFP: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsection=Rest+of+the+World&month=August2007&file=World_News200708271547.xml, the Georgians claim to have fired upon, and possibly shot down a russian aeroplane.

    I note that they are still saying the missile from the previous incident was ‘dropped’, even though more recent reports mention burmarks (well how else did it go all that distance???)

    A voice of moderation from the Georgian (not yet in prison) opposition (former foreign minister):

    “Georgia risks… not benefiting from complete credibility at a time when it will need Western partners,” Salome Zurabishvili, a Georgian opposition leader and the country’s former foreign minister, said earlier.”

    Oh, and the Georgians are claiming ‘imminent’ integration of their radars into the NATO network… Looks like things could get rather fruity.

    Meanwhile, in another post (LAT):http://dissentradio.com/fair/latimesB67.html

    The Abkhaz claim to have seen a plane fall out of the sky though say it came from the direction of Turkey… the Russians deny it was theirs… No comment from NATO who’s turkish partner holds up the NATO end in that neck of the woods (not so long ago, turkish F-16’s visited Azerbaijan…rather than US F-16….). I guess it is quite likely that it was a (NATO) reconaissance drone that was hit, or possibly a russian drone, or even a private ‘security’ contractor hired to surveille certain territories (as they used along the Kosovo/Macdeonia border, usually flying kitted out cessena types…

  14. Aleks says:

    It looks like we are going to have some more information very soon.

    ‘OSCE Chairman, Georgian President discuss missile incident, regional tensions’
    http://www.osce.org/item/26065.html

    Summary: ‘Keep yer knickers on’.

    Tidbits:

    Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said “My Personal Representative will address the Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday this week to brief the participating States on my behalf,[…]The OSCE will keep doing whatever is necessary to create a climate of understanding between Georgia and Russia, bilaterally without forgetting the role and interest of the $international community. What is most important is to find solutions for the future[…]He also met Georgian opposition political parties.”

    I wonder if the worries of the opposition will be taken onboard or sidelined and if either will the OSCE make overt references to their treatment by the authorities or will it be done behind closed doors?

    The main question is though, will either Georgia or Russia listen? With elections coming up in Russia, the temptations may be too great. With regards to Georgia, who would they take more notice of, the OSCE or the US? If the EU and the US give out opposing/different messages to Georgia, it is difficult to see the situation remaining calm for long.

    A parallel I draw here is of that between the EU and Poland over the situation over the representation of the polish minority in Belarus. the Polish government looked like they wanted to create a crisis between the EU and Russia last summer over this, though fortunately the German government remained unmoved.

    I’m still surprised that the Georgian government thinks the public rabble-rousing/baiting techniques buy it any kudos in EU diplomatic circles, though I’m not sure if the government really cares. It is really important that responsible dialogue becomes the main form of communication between the two states.

  15. Aleks says:

    The OSCE report on georgian missile incidene ‘inconclusive’, and is slammed by the usual suspects (Lucas of the economist/Georgia).

    RFE/RL: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/9/15CC5CE2-C4BA-44BD-B059-6CFE36FD9839.html

    It looks like the Georgians are not going to get their ‘crisis’ after all, so this is now ranks as ‘event two’ after Germany told Poland to stop provoking a crisis last summer between the EU and Belarus over the representation of Belarus’ polish minorities. Who encourages these people????!

  16. Aleks says:

    Duh!

    The official US view: http://osce.usmission.gov/archive/2007/09/Response_Zuzul_09_06_07.pdf

    United States Mission to the OSCE
    Response to H.E. Mr. Miomir Zuzul, Personal

    Representative of the Chairman-in-Office, regarding the missile incident in Georgia on 6th
    August 2007

    As delivered by Ambassador Julie Finley
    to the Permanent Council, Vienna
    September 6, 2007

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The United States welcomes Dr. Miomir Zuzul to the Permanent Council. We appreciate his report on his recent meetings regarding the missile incident of August 6th in Georgia. The accusation of an armed attack by one participating State against another is extremely serious.

    We applaud the Spanish OSCE Chairman in Office’s timely action of dispatching Dr. Zuzul to Georgia and Russia, and also applaud that other countries accepted the Georgian invitation to send experts to review available information. We look forward to hearing further recommendations based on the outcome of such meetings.

    We are impressed favorably by the restraint and good judgment the Georgians have shown thus far in responding to this incident and urge the parties involved and concerned to pursue diplomatic and political solutions only and to eschew any military action.

    The United States reiterates its strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.

    Two investigations by 13 technical experts from seven different countries have concluded that the evidence supports the Georgian account of the event. The August 7th report by the Russian-led Joint Peacekeeping Force in South Ossetia also supports the experts’ conclusions. We have seen no real evidence to support the theory that the Georgians staged the August 6 incident. Why not invite these experts to the Permanent Council for their report.

    Reliable data from multiple Georgian radars, eyewitness accounts, and the type of ordnance involved, a Kh-58 anti-radar missile, all support the contention that at least one aircraft violated Georgian airspace from the direction of Russia and fired a missile on August 6th. Moreover, the facts confirmed by independent investigators do not support Russian allegations that the attack was a Georgian provocation.

    Mr. Chairman, our main purpose today should be to devise a way forward.

    We must address the on-going problem of airspace violations and aerial attacks on Georgia in a robust, credible way. Otherwise, the next time, we might face the prospect of civilian deaths or the shoot-down of an aircraft, and we will have to contend with a much more serious crisis.
    Therefore we would like to make two proposals.
    First, we invite all OSCE participating States that still have questions about the facts in this case to engage Georgia, and, if appropriate, send their own technical experts to the region to examine the evidence as part of an OSCE-organized, third-party investigation.
    Second, we recommend that the OSCE consider options for monitoring in Georgia that would permit credible third-party verification in the event of future claims of violations of Georgian airspace or of attacks on Georgian territory. This incident illustrates clearly the need for additional OSCE military monitors on the ground in South Ossetia.
    Again, we thank the Chairman in Office for his timely and speedy efforts, and we certainly thank Dr. Zuzul for his report and the application of his considerable energies and intellect.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    *******$

    The Jamestown Monitor (http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372410)
    covers it of course, though the last paragraph says it all:

    “There is no substitute to providing Georgia with modern radar capabilities through the assistance of NATO member countries. Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gela Bezhuashvili discussed this issue with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on September 4 in Brussels. With Georgia preparing to increase dramatically its troop contribution to NATO operations in Afghanistan — and, in parallel, support U.S. operations in Iraq — the alliance can in turn plug Georgia into NATO’s Air Situation Data Exchange System without delay. De Hoop Scheffer’s upcoming visit to Georgia can see an announcement to that effect.”

    What the Georgians want is entirely incompatible with what the OSCE wants, and eventhough the US Mission supported the OSCE report, will they uphold it in practice?

    Still, if the missile was fired from a russian Su-24, it was either by accident (human or mechanical) or the aircraft was under threat. The fact that the Su-24s are carrying anti-radiation missiles in the first place presupposes (real or potential), georgian anti-aircraft threats…

  17. Some of the very latest headlines:

    Gunfire Breaks Out in South Ossetia
    http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/14780

    Georgia Condemns Russian “Terror”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7015549.stm

    Saakashvili goes to the UN and makes a provocative address. Shortly thereafter, the news as reported by RTTV.

    There’s something to be said about how Saakashvili appears to go out of his way to escalate tensions.

    He will no doubt go out of his way to highlight the meeting in Russia last week between South and North Ossetian officials. South Ossetia (part of the former Georgian SSR and current disputed territory) and North Ossetia (part of the former RSFSR and current Russian republic) are two republics which are ethnically related and border each other. Prior to the Soviet breakup, they were both affiliated with Russia since 1801.

    My own suggested peace plan for possible consideration:

    A Different Settlement Plan for Kosovo
    http://www.serbianna.com/columns/averko/005.shtml

    Special attention is given to the disputed former Georgian SSR territories.

  18. Critic of Georgian President Faces Charges
    http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/14828

    How hot a topic is this in Eng. lang. mass media? Contrast to the coverage when/if a critic of Putin is arrested.

    When compared to Georgia and many other countries, Russia is a large country with a good deal of geo-political clout. This in part explains why real and potential human rights issues fall under greater scrutiny with the coverage of Russia. The other part has to do with the geo-political hypocrisy of some.

  19. Georgia and Russia Clash at UN
    http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Sep27/0,4670,UNGeorgiaRussia,00.html

    ————————————————–

    Russia, Georgia Not Geared Towards Conflict – Lavrov
    http://en.rian.ru/world/20070928/81473556.html

    ————————————————–

    Why the World Believes Saakashvili
    http://www.kommersant.com/p809166/r_520/World_Believes_Saakashvili/

    Excerpt:

    “The tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi won’t be eased until two things happen: Moscow must break its habit of acting crassly and the West must learn to see Saakashvili as the risky and dirty player that he is.”

    ————————————————–

    Viktor Pligin on Russo-Georgian Relations
    http://www.russiatoday.ru/guests/detail/451

    The interviewed Pligin is at a loss of understanding the not so great state of relations between Moscow and Tiblisi. The reason partly relates to the globalization point he raised on another matter. Along with other Georgian officials, Georgia’s current president spent a good amount of time in the US being educated with Western neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideas. Views which don’t take into great account the historically good relations between Russia and some others. In certain instances, the neo-conservative/neo-liberal mindset seems to discourage continued close ties between Russia and some other former Soviet republics. As a case in point: In The New York Times and in The National Interest, Anders Aslund suggestively argued for keeping Ukraine separate from Russia as much as possible.

    ————————————————–

    Georgia: The Ally Who Turned on Saakashvili
    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/09/426078e8-c53d-4c9b-bf0d-55e087c5bd3a.html

    Excerpt:

    “He’s the man, after all, who once said Russians would buy anything, even fecal matter — and that was why Georgia sold them wines that wouldn’t sell in Europe.

    He also famously announced that Georgians would spend the first day of 2007 celebrating New Year’s in Tskhinvali, the capital of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia. The remark was seen as a baldly aggressive threat against the separatist region.”

    ****

    Some analysts portray Putin as a moderate nationalist to more hard line Russian politicians.