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In the News: The Russia-Georgia Conflict

Moments of bloody violence and frightfully large military movements have been splashed across the news media worldwide recently in an attempt to cover what has been called the “Russia-Georgia Conflict”. While we may know it exists, we may not quite understand what it is about. Russia.com will attempt to provide some unbiased information about the skirmish to help its visitors become better informed.

On the same day as millions of people around the globe were tuned into the Olympic opening ceremony, large groups of Russian troops were mobilized and moved into the nation of Georgia. Their efforts were clearly carefully planned and well coordinated as they conduced a number of precision strikes that resulted in the Georgian military being crippled and the capture of the city of Tskhavli. The move makes it appear that Russia was the first to strike, but Russia has claimed that the strike was merely a response to an artillery attack made by Georgia on Tskhavli the previous day. The attack killed almost 2000 people and left thousands more refugees. The ultimate goal of Russia’s strike was to defend Russian citizens who are still living in South Ossetia, a breakaway province of Georgia. It seems that the August 7 assault by Georgia was a re-imaging of the fighting between Georgia and South Ossetia which took place in 1991. The previous conflict was solved when Georgia accepted a ceasefire to stem the possibility of a larger conflict with Russia. But it seems that since then certain Georgians have continued to brood ill-feelings towards people living in South Ossetia, which has resulted in the recent series of sporadic and bloody fighting in the area. This despite efforts by a combined force of Ossetians, Russians, Georgians and other Europeans to maintain peace in the area.

The attacks started with a small skirmish on August 1 between the Georgian military and Ossetian irregular army troops and eventually it snowballed into the artillery attack that brought Russia rushing in to Ossetia. According to the Russian authorities, several Russian peacekeeping troops as well as a number of innocent civilians were killed in the shelling and so their dramatic response is primarily an attempt to keep their own safe. Several thousand troops were deployed to this end, along with armored personnel carriers and tanks. According to Russian President Dmitiri Medvedev, the attack on the Ossetians is considered ‘genocide’ and the Russians were ‘seeking to force the Georgian side to peace’. Russian motives seem noble, but at what cost and will they succeed without too much bloodshed and violence? Meanwhile Georgia’s newly elected president Mikheil Saakashvili has attempted to justify the attacks by saying they are part of efforts to re-unite Georgia and South Ossetia. Unfortunately, while unity is certainly a worthy goal, the use of violent force to attain it from otherwise peaceful nations will no doubt fall under a lot of scrutiny from other European powers.

 



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