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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Feb 25th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Russia going for the Throat in Georgia
Russia going for the Throat in Georgia PDF Print E-mail
Written by STRATFOR   
Monday, 11 August 2008

Georgian troops escape a burning armored vehicle on the road to TbilisiEditor’s Note: This piece has been updated from an earlier version. Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Georgian troops escape a burning armored vehicle on the road to TbilisiEditor’s Note: This piece has been updated from an earlier version. Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Georgia: For the Throat

Georgia: For the Throat
Stratfor Today » August 11, 2008 | 1851 GMT

Georgian troops escape a burning armored vehicle on the road to TbilisiEditor’s Note: This piece has been updated from an earlier version. Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

For now the Tbilisi airport appears to still be operational, but rumors are flying within the capital that a Russian attack is imminent. Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili has stated that Russian troops are currently on approach to Tbilisi, although — for now at least — the Russians deny any intention of moving on the capital.

What we know for sure is that Russian advances south of South Ossetia have already succeeded in splitting the country in half. Another advance in the west could cut Georgia into three pieces as well as preclude any faint hope of reinforcement from outside powers. Telephone communications in the capital have already been disrupted, although at present it is impossible to tell if this is due to system overload or Russian airstrikes.

Ultimately — as it has been since the beginning of the conflict — it is up to the Russians to decide where this conflict ends. And the rhetoric of Russia’s generals aside — most of them continue to say this is merely a “peacekeeping” operation — the only man that matters is Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has said simply that “Russia will of course carry out its peacekeeping mission to its logical end.” The Russians have also made it clear not only that they do not trust Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, but more than hinted that his removal is a prerequisite for any cease-fire.

Our next guidance as to how the conflict will evolve is this:

Russian forces do not excel at night fighting, so if there is to be another push it will occur at dawn Aug. 12 with air and then armored strikes on Mtskheta. Should that happen there will be literally nothing to stop the Russians from attacking Tbilisi directly.


Red Alert Intelligence Guidance: The Crisis in Georgia (Free Access)
Stratfor Today » August 11, 2008 | 1910 GMT

Editor’s Note: The following is an internal Stratfor document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.

The war in Georgia is apparently not over. Russian forces have continued to advance, taking the town of Gori as well as Senaki in western Georgia. The Russians appear to be dividing Georgia into three parts. With the fall of Gori, the Russians are about 40 miles from the capital of Tbilisi. According to Georgian reports, Georgian forces have established a defensive line about 15 miles north of Georgia’s capital. Unconfirmed reports from the Georgians say Russian paratroopers have landed at the military airport outside of Tbilisi.

Most of the reports on Russian movements have originated with the Georgians. They are clearly attempting to communicate a sense of dire emergency to the world in the hope of someone intervening. The Russians are denying any intention of taking Tbilisi and are denying many of the movements the Georgians are reporting. But if we simply take the facts as known, namely the fall of Gori and Senaki, the Russians are clearly moving into Georgia proper in a decisive fashion — and by capturing key infrastructure nodes, physically removing the possibility of any outside force from becoming involved.

Regardless of how far the Russians intend to go, they are demonstrating an ability to go as deep as they would like. In itself that is valuable to the Russians, as it reinforces the regions’ sense of Russian power. In this case there may be an additional aspect, however. The Russians have made it clear that they want a new Georgian president, distrusting the current one. That appears to be one of the prices for halting the war. The closer they move to Tbilisi the greater the motivation to redefine Georgian politics and thereby the regional balance of power.

What is clear now is that the war did not end with the occupation of South Ossetia. The Russians are looking for a decisive redefinition of relations with Georgia — and of Georgia. Obviously, if this goes on, this can include the occupation of Georgia.

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