#40 - JRL 2009-147 - JRL Home
RIA Novosti
August 6, 2009
Saakashvili returns to war

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - They say that when U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden visited Georgia in July, Americans made sure he did not see George Bush Street, which is on the way from Tbilisi Airport to the old city.

Now, under President Barack Obama it has become embarrassing for President Mikheil Saakashvili. In turn, Saakashvili is politically embarrassing for Obama, his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the bigger part of Western Europe.

The closer the first anniversary of the Caucasian war approaches, the more accusations of Russia as a threat to Georgia appear. Saakashvili claims that tensions on the border are escalating every minute, and the Russian army is moving frontier markers almost every hour. Observers from the European mission in Georgia reported on August 4 that they had not seen any change in the frontier markers. But, as the Brits say, why let facts ruin a good story?

After a whole series of publications and TV documentaries, Europe and the United States have revised the causes of the Caucasian war, and revealed its main culprits. However, the publication of the recent EU report on this war has been suspended till September. At first, it was supposed to be published on July 31. According to some sources, the report bluntly says that Georgia is to blame for starting the conflict, that it has violated norms of international law, and caused Russia's natural response. The report has been suspended officially because ostensibly new facts requiring additional analysis have come to light. But diplomats in Brussels familiar with the report say that the decision not to publish was made so as not to "finish off" Saakashvili on the eve of the war's anniversary.

During his visit to Tbilisi, Biden did not give any written or contractual commitments to Georgia (for instance, to supply it with weapons), but promised to focus military assistance on training, planning, and organization. In U.S. lexicon, these forms of aid usually mean tougher control over the actions by the military authorities of minor allies with a view to preventing exactly what happened in the early hours of August 8 last year.

The United States does not find it very comfortable to supply Georgia with weapons during the crisis because it has no money to pay for them. Under George Bush, Washington already committed itself to put all Georgian bureaucrats on its payroll, having paid a little more than $1 billion as a compensation for Saakashvili's small war. The first tranche of $250 million has already been transferred. According to the Treasury, these funds will be spent on old age pensions, scholarships, social payments, and assistance to refugees. However, and this is the main point, a considerable part of these funds will be allocated for compensation and salaries of government officials of all ministries, except for the defense and interior ministries. In other words, all of Georgia's government officials are already on U.S. payroll, a fact which nobody even tried to conceal during the last few years of Bush's term.

Incidentally, August is the month of another tragic anniversary in the history of Georgia. On August 14 it will be 17 years since the start of Georgia's aggression against Abkhazia. In 1992, Eduard Shevardnadze's Georgia brought its troops into Sukhumi. They consisted of a terrible mix of military, paramilitary, and outright bandit forces. Thousands of people were killed, while 200,000 Georgians were forced to leave Abkhazia.

Last year, Saakashvili and his entourage merely did a repeat of the Abkhazian venture. It is regrettable that few people remember the original. At that time, Tbilisi was also talking about "struggle against separatists," and "the need to preserve Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

But in Le Monde Diplomatique I found a statement by Gogi (Georgy) Khaindrava, former associate of Saakashvili, and ex-minister for settlement of regional conflicts (2004-2006). In April 1993, he told the newspaper the following: "...there are only 80,000 Abkhazians. This means that we can easily and fully destroy their genetic reserve by killing 15,000 of their young people, and we are capable of doing that."

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