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Posted on Aug 14, 2008 in War College

Georgia – South Ossetia – Russia Conflict Update August 14, 2008

By Jerry D. Morelock

International press photograph of U.S. State Department special envoy Matthew Bryza and an unidentified man who greeted the first delivery of the U.S. - donated humanitarian supplies. —The UN continues to dither about the crisis and has proven unable to mount any serious opposition to Russia’s invasion. With Russia holding veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, don’t expect to see much of substance coming out of the UN. Russia is unlikely to repeat its egregious lack of judgment that its Soviet predecessor exhibited in June 1950 – the USSR boycotted the UN Security Council meeting that approved the UN imprimatur on the U.S.–led action to oppose North Korea in the Korean War, thereby, through its act of singular stupidly, it failed to exercise its veto. Putin may be ruthless, but he’s definitely not stupid.

—There seems little the U.S. can do in the face of this Russian fait accompli beyond making high-minded public pronouncements, providing humanitarian assistance to Georgia, and attempting to get the European nations to join it in putting together some type of diplomatic sanctions. Expelling Russia from the G-8 has been bandied about, but the EU nations’ dependence on Russian oil and gas may torpedo even that suggestion.


—The impact this Russian show of force will have on U.S. plans to erect anti-missile defenses in Central Europe remains to be seen. It will likely not sap American resolve to build the sites, as they are considered vital to the U.S. missile defense program, but Russia’s belligerence may make the proposed host countries think twice about having them on their soil. Then again, Russia’s bullying might just push them in the opposite direction

—Two great reads: for more insight in the conflict, log on to to read Ralph Peters’ August 14 column “A Czar is Born”; and check out Victor Davis Hanson’s August 13 article “Moscow’s Sinister Brilliance” at

Follow the discussions about the Conflict on our forums.

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  1. Almost every article I read disingenuously equates “Russia” with “Soviet Union.”

    This is not a case of a small, democracy-loving country fighting off the intrusions of a communistic behemoth. Georgia made the first move, and while the Russian response may have been disproportionate, the Russians (thus far) cannot be blamed of committing genocide as the Georgian military can. If S. Ossetia wants to be a part of Russia and secede from Georgia, that is their right. God help the civilians on the ground. And to think that America backs those committing murder amongst the citizenry. Our founding fathers would be spinning in their graves and rightly so.

  2. That may also be a back-handed way of saying “we never trusted them.”

  3. Yeah right! Russians is not the Soviet Union…?, who is being disingenuous? Russia are the good guys and Hitler was just misunderstood, right. Russians continue to show themselves as the barbarians who lost the Cold War.

  4. I think you will find that Russia has been making the first move for a rather extended period of time, PK. Building up forces on the border with Georgia (not that having contingency plans in place is unnatural given the political differences between the two countries), declaring South Ossetian’s Russian nationals (imagine Mexico started issuing passports to dissidents in Texas), ensuring that the peacekeepers in the region are primarily Russian etc. Not to mention inserting agent provocateurs into the ranks of the Ossetian separatists. When northern Georgian towns came under bombardment – not an unusual occurrence – Georgia responded by firing back. Also not unusual. And then the Russian army invaded. Russia can declare that Georgia fired first (although they only fired on their own people within their own borders – according to international rules of behaviour, that is within the province of their own sovereignty.) And any reporter that writes otherwise gets a “friendly” call from the Russian consulate instructing them that all affiliated reporters and news crews will be black balled from Russia unless they spin it the way Russia wants it. Don’t believe the lie, ladies and gentlemen. Russia has been planning this for months, if not years. Consider also the timing – almost immediately following the start of the Olympic games, when most decision makers will be taking holidays to attend, or to watch. Would Georgia pick such a time, knowing how outgunned they were? Of course not, unless they were completely incompetent (a dangerous assumption.) Who does it benefit? Well, Russia of course.

    And for those who complain that it is a double standard, may I say hurray for double standards? We are talking about the balance of power here, not ethics.

  5. Russia has a right to warn NATO not to get too close……imagine how we would feel if Russia had formed a political-military alliance during the Cold War and continued to keep it in existence today? And what if this ex-Soviet treaty organization contained as members a good deal of Europe and part of South America, and the Russians were pressuring countries like Canada and Mexico to join and erect missile-defense “shields?” How would we feel then?

    As I have said before on these discussions, I am not condoning anything wrong or immoral or unjust that Putin or Medvedev have done, nor am I in any way pro-Soviet, etc. I just think that America needs a less hubristic foreign policy.

    Thank you for the article Mr. Morelock.


  6. What always amazes me about all American and most European coverage of this conflict is the one-sided way the conflict was reported – and the inability of commentators to see things from the other side of the hill.

    On the first point, the bottom line is that Georgia started it. it invaded a neighbouring semi-autonomous state, pounded its cities, and gunned down or drove off its inhabitants. Yes, the Russians (not Soviets) then retaliated, and inevitably they not only defeated the Georgians and re-occupied South Ossettia, but they rolled on to create a buffer zone. This isn’t anything the Israelis haven’t done in the past, but they never suffered such widespread condemnation for it. WHat then blotted Russian’s copy-book was allowing the scum in – the armed mob militias following in the wake of the regular army – noit just Ossetians, but also other ethnic groups out for blood and loot.

    Secondly, just spend a minute seeing this from the Russian point of view. More than a century ago, America came up with the Monroe Doctrine – a policy which resulted in military intervention in the Caribbean and Central America. Now, the Russians feel the same way about their neighbours, especially if these neighbours used to BE part of their Soviet state until a decade or so ago. Nothing would irritate the US government more than a potentially hostile foreign power installing missile bases in Canada,sending trying to get the Mexicans to join a hostile military alliance, and sending troops and ships to Mexico AFTER Mexico used military force agaisnt American communities living along the Mexican-US border.That is exactly the situation the Russians find themselves in. Tie that in with their loss of face in recent decades, and it dosn’t take a diplomatic genius to figure out they’re not going to react well! Unfortunately the West doesn’t have a diplomatic genius – we only have governments who can’t see past using the situation to rattle sabers and provide PR opportunities in the lead-up to an election.

    Now, I’m not an apologist for Putin and Russia – I only suggest that you should do the sensible military thing, and take a look at things from the perspective of the other guys. The US has been encroaching in Russia’s “Monroe Doctrine” territory in a thoughtlessly heavy-handed way. How would YOU react if you were Putin?

    Oh, and while we’re at it, NATO is an elite club. I certainly don’t see why it should include countries run by tin-pot little Eastern potentates who use force against neighbouring semi-autonomous regions to solve their problems. Who’se going to be next to be invited into the club – The Bosnian Serbs?!