In South Ossetia and the war zone, there are no western TV crews, just Russian and one Ukrainian. In the initial attack by Georgian forces, 12 Russian peacekeepers were killed and 150 wounded. There are 30,000 refugees crossing the border into North Ossetia. Georgia has send troops reinforcements to the province of Abkhazia. It’s clear both sides are using heavy shelling of the capital Tskhinvali and a scorced earth policy as we have seen in neighboring Chechen province. In Moscow there are protest demonstrations underway to end the bloodshed and Russian Cossack Union members are volunteering to assist S Ossatia in its defence. The satellite channel RussiaToday has live broadcast from the war zone.
Russian analysts put the blame on US policy and big Oil & Gas multinationals undermining regional stability in the region of the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. The US and its western allies have provided Georgia with arms and intelligence to wage war.
Georgia proposes cease fire in S Ossetia
TBILISI, Georgia – Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili proposed to declare a cease fire in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Georgia’s Security Council secretary, Alexander Lomaia, said Saakashvili’s proposal means that the Georgian troops will withdraw from Tskhinvali, the provincial capital of South Ossetia, and stop responding to Russian shelling. The Russian military said previously they already had driven Georgian forces out of Tskhinvali.
The US-backed Georgian regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili sent massed military units into South Ossetia on Thursday morning, after claiming that South Ossetian military forces had shelled Georgian villages, supposedly violating a unilateral cease-fire declared by Tbilisi.
While the Georgian regime initially claimed it was carrying out a “proportionate response,” it quickly became clear that it had launched an all-out military offensive aimed at conquering the region. Using artillery, tanks, truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers and war planes, the Georgian military laid siege to the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.
Much of the city was reportedly in flames Friday. The regional parliament building had burned down, the university was on fire, and the town’s main hospital had been rendered inoperative by the bombardment. The International Red Cross reported that ambulances were unable to reach the wounded.
“As a result of many hours of shelling from heavy guns, the town is practically destroyed,” Marat Kulakhmetov, the commander of Russian peacekeepers in the territory, told the Russian news service Interfax.
Russian forces have driven Georgian troops out of Tskinvali less than a day after Tbilisi claimed it had captured the city. Making the announcement, General Vladimir Boldyrev said Russian units are continuing to push Georgian troops out of the peacekeeper-controlled zone.
Earlier on Saturday, President Medvedev said Russia would would bring the violence to an end.
In a meeting with Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Medvedev said Russian peacekeepers would attempt to “force the Georgian side to stop fighting.”
(Bloomberg) – South Ossetia has a population of about 70,000 and is connected to Russia’s North Ossetia region by a tunnel through the Caucasus Mountains. Most South Ossetian residents hold Russian passports.
Georgia is a key link in a U.S.-backed “southern energy corridor” that connects the Caspian Sea region with world markets, bypassing Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
The U.S. seeks to connect Central Asia natural gas supplies with European markets, skirting Russia in an attempt to weaken the grip of Russia’s state-run OAO Gazprom energy company. One planned pipeline route runs from the Georgia-Turkey border.
NATO in April committed itself to bringing Georgia into the alliance without providing a timeframe or a clear path toward membership — as Bush had pushed for — out of concern it would antagonize Russia. Putin has called the expansion of NATO toward Russian frontiers a “direct threat” and likened South Ossetia’s drive for independence to Kosovo’s from Serbia.