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Latest on Georgia

Fred Kagan has been following it closely, and here are a few points from his latest take: 

  • Numerous reports suggest that Russian forces have moved beyond the boundaries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgia proper.  The Russians have de facto confirmed that they have occupied Zugdidi, a town on the Georgian side of the Abkhazian border.  They deny that they have occupied Gori, a key transportation node west of Tbilisi and south of Tskhinvali, but Georgian and press reportage suggests that they have.
  • It is known that Russian aircraft have bombed all of these and other areas, including the port of Poti, which some Russian sources claim has been destroyed.  The Russians also acknowledge that they issued an ultimatum to Georgian forces in Zugdidi to disarm.
  • Russia has also announced a significant reinforcement of its forces in Abkhazia, and it has announced plans to increase its forces in the region generally in response to the return of Georgian troops from Iraq.
  • The Investigative Committee convened by Dmitrii Medvedev on Putin’s “suggestion” has reported that it will investigate crimes committed by Georgian troops under the articles for mass murder in the Russian Federation law code.
  • If, as reports suggest, Russian forces have occupied Zugdidi, Senaki, and Gori, then they have not only invaded Georgia in violation of any possible international legal justification, but have also taken possession of Georgia’s only means of communication with the Western World.  If the Russians hold Gori, then Georgia’s only land-sea lines of communication run through Azerbaijan to the Caspian Sea or along secondary, mountain roads to Batumi and/or Turkey.
  • If the Investigative Committee proceeds as seems likely, it will most probably indict Saakashvili and other members of the Georgian government for crimes committed under Russian law, and Russian can then presumably demand their extradition in exchange for opening the Tbilisi-Poti road.
  • Alternatively, Russian forces are in an excellent position to take Georgia if they chose to do so.
  • The likeliest outcome at this stage is that Moscow insists on the departure of Saakashvili and other high members of the Georgian government from power and from the country, and then returns to its positions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia with significantly increased force presence.  In that scenario, Georgia will be helplessly under Russian domination.

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