About the changing world all around us

Having a natural need to try and understand horrifying news I set about today to investigate what is going on in Georgia, Russia, and a little territory called South Ossetia.

What are they fighting over? A break away region named South Ossetia which separated from Georgia in a 91-92 war. South Ossetia has a population of 70,000 and is a different ethnic group from the people of Georgia. South Ossetia is inhabited mostly by ethnic Ossetians who speak a language remotely related to Farsi. Georgians account for less than one-third of the population.

South Ossetia region

South Ossetia region

Georgia has never accepted the South Ossetian claim for independence and tensions have never been far from the surface with violence flaring up sporadically. In August 2008, heavy fighting erupted between Georgian and separatist forces, following nearly a week of clashes. The fighting deepened fears of a full-blown war in the Caucasus.

The current fighting began four days ago when Georgian forces launched a surprise attack to regain control of South Ossetia, which has had de facto independence since the end of a civil war in 1992.Russia had maintained peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia although the Georgian parliament has called for them to be replaced with an international force. On August 8 the Russian forces moved in “to restore peace to the region”.

As of today’s news Georgia has pulled out of South Ossetia, according to their own reports, while Russia claims that Georgian troops were still present in the region.

To date estimates put the death toll on the South Ossetian side at more than 1,500, mostly civilians. Georgian casualty figures ranged from 82 dead, including 37 civilians, to a figure of about 130 dead.

Does this clear up the information for anybody else but me?? I am wondering after doing my own reading if Russia is so clearly in the wrong in this conflict? They appear to be helping the separatists. But then again I am not good enough at international politics to understand what Russia’s alternative motives may be, if there is something for them to gain from the conflict? Anyone have an opinion or information you would like to share?

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Comments on: "Trying to understand the news, Georgia – Russian war" (18)

  1. It’s a difficult situation. The current conflict was started by the Georgians but I am curious as to the timing of the attack (with Bush out of the country) and the requests for assistance to NATO by the Georgians (were they promised this?)

    The borders of many of these breakaway republics and former satellites of the Soviet Union are ticking time bombs much like we are seing in Iraq, Africa, India and Pakistan.

    The borders theat now define these countries were drawn up either through Eoropean imperialism or ancient claims and do no reflect the current reality of the the regions as a populations’ ethinic and cultural differences have shifted significantly since then or in the case of Iraq and other former European colonies were ignored completely.

    Now with Democrac y and freedom being the mantra of West .. one canot be surprised to see ethnic minorities and majorities clamoring for theserights in responseto either opression, exclusion or downright genocidal treatment by other ethnic groups holding power that were put their by external countries needing a government friendly to them.

    It will take decades to sort this out at the cost of many lives

    UNLESS

    the US, Russia, Europe and other big powers stop meddling in the internal affairs of these countries (including arms sales and military training) which then would lead to more dialogue

    DianeCA: Thank you for a most insiteful reply! I do so much agree with you that the big boys have to stop meddling in everything all over the world. Many conflicts would remain much smaller, and fewer lives would be lost if the largest countries in the world did not have a stake in the fight. At the very least it should be international forces sorting out the conflicts, and not the ‘big boys’.

  2. Reply from a confused gal in the U.S.

    Diane ~ Thank you so so so much for this post, and Cawdor for your reply. I’ve been searching high and low for news that makes some sort of sense on all of this.

    My son is going into the military in June of next year and I’ve been really looking to see what the *real* issues are – ’cause I’m nervous.

    What I’ve found over here Diane, our news is so bizarrely unreal! In an area where we pride ourselves in freedom of speach and media, it’s really coming clear (well, has for awhile) that our media over here has it’s own agenda.

    The way our news put it, Georgia was in the right… Russia way off. To be very honest – I just want everyone okay!!

    There’s alot of upheaval happening and I’m so concerned for all of us. Seems the *big guys* are getting off the mark.

    ::sigh::

    I just hope there are no more casualties over there.

    Thank you Diane!

    DianeCA: I know all about the American media, being originally from NY I follow it closely. The media doesn’t have its own agenda, it usually has the white houses agenda. We should all pray that this is just a small flare up and that Russia backs off again quickly after making their point, that Georgia is no match so they should preferably stay in their own boundries.

    Monica

  3. Actually, S Ossetia was never part of the post-Soviet Georgian state. It was part of the Georgian SSR prior to ’91, and broke away when Georgia declared independence. Therefore it (and Abkhazia) was never ruled by Tbilisi. The S Ossetians are identical in culture to the N Ossetians in the RF. They wish to be united (duh!). Russia is viewed as the liberator, especially in the light of thousands of civilian deaths caused by deliberate Georgian targeting of the innocent.

    Prime Minister Putin put it clearly. “It’s total genocide. This is madness. No civilised person behaves like this”. Russia has called for the Georgian leadership to be tried as war criminals for their deliberate targeting of civilians. (much as the US deliberately targeted civilians in Serbia in 1999, Saakashvili learned his lessons well.

    Remember, GEORGIA started this mess. It stuck its hand in the cookie jar… and drew out a mousetrap! God DOES have a sense of humour.

    I cover the topic thoroughly on my site “Voices from Russia”. Check it out.

    Cheers and ciao,

    Vara

    DianeCA: Thank you so much for stopping by and giving a more diversified view to the situation. One thing I have learned in life is that every situation has multiple perspectives, and how it looks depends on where you are standing and the glasses you are wearing. I feel the media where we live is wearing very Americanized glasses. I will come in to see your site!

  4. Bill Lanphar said:

    My Wife is Russian Lived in Ukrain I think its interesting to see this from her perspective she says there are many places like this where international tribunals decide whats best and all it does is make allot of people very unhappy.
    Ossentia Speaks Russian so there culture is much more connected to Russia than Georgia
    You may not think thats a big deal but Put it this way Say the world Governing Body decides were going to become part of mexico and spanish is the official language now so whenever you do anything with the government or schools you have to speak spanish. Plus if you cannot speak spanish it is implied your a second rate citizen because of limited job opputunity.
    This happened to my wife in Ukrain she has two degrees and is a teacher that tought children geography and world history . She became unemployed because she does not speak Ukrain
    when Russian had been spoken in Crimeia for over a 100 years … You would be very angry also She said notice the refugees are going into Russia not georgia to get out of the Fighting.
    we need to just stay out of this arena we have no Idea whats best because Our News media never tells the news without the whitehouse filters on it ….

    DianeCA: Very interesting personal perspective! I never thought of it like that. I do so much agree that we need to stay out of this fight and not use it as an excuse to have a conflict with Russia. And the news media is usually not telling the whole story. Notice my banner on “Homoginization” on my blog!

  5. I’m with you! Thanks again for writing on it. 🙂

    DianeCA: Yeah seems to be a very hot topic!! I’m glad I brought it up!

  6. A conflict wich must stop now. The best picture of the day was the russian athlet kissing the geogian one. If only the politics could change. How can they sleep the night with so many victims …

    DianeCA: A truly good image! Too bad politics are power are much more complicated. If only it were that easy.

  7. I wanted to stop by and say thank you for stopping by my blog.

    As far as the conflict with Georgia and Russia I am not clear either what exactly is going on. I hope it gets sorted out before anything worse happens.

    DianeCA: I too am hoping for a quick resolution. The whole thing is very unsettling – and a bit more than unsettling to those in the middle of the fight!

  8. It seems like there’s a minority is ever country that wants to seperate. Quebec in Canada; Basque region in Spain, etc. It’s really horrible that so many innocent people have to die.

    DianeCA: Maybe we need to treat our minorities better!

  9. Hi Diane, I appreciate your post today and as I follow-up closely with the events daily I felt a deep sense of sadness within.

    Although this is thousand & thousand of miles away from me I felt the hurt & anxious affecting the civilians more so when I saw images on TV.

    Why can’t they have peace talk? Why resolve to this extend and spring surprises to everybody? Why create tension when the world is coming together through the spirit of Olympic?

    I have many WHYs in my head Diane and I can only hope that this end soon before there is more casualties…. *sob*

    DianeCA: My head is full of whys as well, but I am aware that the situation is more complicated than the often over simplified view we get in the headlines. That is why I set out to ask the questions, and seek the answers. And I feel I got some good responces and am a bit wiser for asking.

  10. Instinctively, I would blame Russia. Not because I don’t like the country, but because I do believe he has quite an aggressive policy when it comes to keeping the country together.

    Now, to me, it sounds like Tibet vs. China as well, and then my opinion would be different.

    Hard to say… To me, the question of independence for so many regions/ country/ nations is philosophic. What’s a nation? When should it be independent?

    DianeCA: Sounds like a good comparison. I think that if a nation wishes to be independent then it should be.

  11. it makes me wonder what is so strategic in that little corner of georgia that makes both the georgians and the russians want to fight over it.

    DianeCA: Excellent question!!!! You are a critical thinker, I like that! I didn’t come up with that question yet but it is very interesting. I wonder too! Is there oil in that region of the world??

  12. I give you credit for having guts to bringing up the subject. It’s difficult and a comprehensive matter though.

    First I will say, I’m so agree with Claudie and noticed the same on TV from the Olympics in Beijing yesterday. It shows we are talking about politics on ‘high level’ and that the people themself want peace.

    What really is important now is that they come together for a negotiation and that other ‘powerful’ states keep away. Military have never solved any problems yet!

    DianeCA: And yet discussions don’t seem to be effective until things reach a cooking point. Well this is definately cooking so lets hope for a peace agreement now!

  13. First, you must know that situation of South Osetia is the same as Sudeten of Czechoslovakia in 1938: its “government” is formed from citizens of Russia, not from local Ossetians (for example, head of police – former official of North Ossetia, who was responsible for freeing of captives in Beslan). Second, moment for the war Russia tested in the last summer, when their military aircraft “accidentally” bombed territory of Georgia on august 8. Then bombing of foreign country didn’t get any response from the UN, EU and other “leaders” oth the world. Third, Russia lied to the world about loses of the Ossetians in the “occupation” by Georgia: now it is confirmed only 20 deaths and 163 hospitalized civilian citizens in North Ossetia. But – russians found many corpses of armed men, whom are called “georgian terrorists” in the Russian news. Fourth, War started in the thursday, then from territory of the South Ossetia was started permanent bombing of Georgian villages. Fifth, Russia some weeks ago started war propaganda: about Georgia, preparing total holocaust of Ossetians, with Russia organizing evacuation of civilian citizens from the South Ossetia. Did you think, that 10.000 army may by prepared to change dislocation in one night? But Russia now moved 10000 army to Georgia…
    Also you trust Russian claims about: “Georgia has never accepted the South Ossetian claim for independence…” South Ossetian government never sought independence. Puppet government sought to connect South Ossetia to Russia. (You must to know about situation of Ossetians in Russian North Ossetia, if you think that it will be good for whem). Georgia proposed to Ossetians wide autonomy, but South Ossetian government never discussed propositions of Georgia…

  14. “Saakashvili said in a televised address:
    • The army should struggle to the end;
    • We will never surrender;
    • Georgian forces are re-grouping;

    Russia took over control of the major highway passing through Gori and “separated the country’s western part from the east,” President Saakashvili said at a session of National Security Council at 8:45pm on August 11.

    It was earlier reported that the Russian forces were in control of Gori. It was earlier reported that the Russian forces were in control of Gori. The Russian Defense Ministry, however, has denied that its forces were in Gori, Interfax news agency report at 9:15pm.

    Russian forces also advanced deep into the Georgian territory from breakaway Abkhazia as well, taking control of Senaki.

    “Situation is extremely grave,” Saakashvili said. “This is occupation attempt, attempt to totally occupy Georgia, attempt to destroy Georgia.”

    “Russia’s goal is to put an end to existence of the Georgian state,” he added.

    “We are receiving only moral and humanitarian help from the international community, but we need more than that. We want them to stop these barbaric aggressors.”

    “Our armed forces will carry out regrouping and we will protect and continue fighting for our future… We will never surrender, we will never say no to freedom and our future; we will never kneel down.”

    “Russia’s goal is to trigger panic and chaos and civil confrontation in Georgia… Do not let the enemy’s major goal be achieved. We should not allow chaos, political confrontation.”

    He also called on the population to gather outside the Parliament at 3pm on August 12 “to show the enemy that we are united and strong.”

    DianeCA: You seem to be very informed about the situation and interested yourself. A different perspective from some others who have replied. Where do you look for your information? Just curious because I don’t see it reflected in our press (which of course does not mean that it isn’t true!) I really want to understand this situation from different sides.

  15. I am always saddened by the idea that we just don’t seem to be willing to really listen and negotiate and reach a compromise. Is any territory or resource worth killing for?

  16. Thank you for doing the research that I was just about to do! I was really confused about this as well and wanted to read up on the history of the fighting to figure out what exactly is going on.

    I still don’t know where I stand… the media doesn’t always present everything we need to know. I didn’t know that Georgia was the first one to launch an attack and that Russia’s step was more of a counterattack… I’m left with so many questions.

    Other than just to keep their country bigger, why is Georgia so keen on keeping South Ossetia? How much of the population of South Ossetia wants to separate from Georgia? What will Russia gain from the separation of South Ossetia from Georgia? Also, if I’m not mistaken, the US media is making the public believe that oil-rich Russia was the first one to attack. I wonder if there’s a hidden agenda here… I hate to sound so cynical and to not have that much faith in our country but whenever the US gets involved (Bush has made a statement demanding Russia to pull back in Georgia), there’s always a reason.

  17. I would agree that this whole conflict is confusing since I am very uneducated about this whole region. Thanks for posting about it so I could learn more, and I’ve been doing reading on my own as well.

    It seems as though the fighting has stopped, and I hope that things can resolved peacefully from this point on.

  18. ooopinionsss said:

    How you think when the economic crisis will end? I wish to make statistics of independent opinions!

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