Thursday, August 07, 2008

War in the Caucus

OK, so it's only "the brink" of war. But Russia can't remain "indifferent"!

Georgia launches offensive in South Ossetia

The Independent, By Shaun Walker, August 8

Moscow - The Caucasus was on the brink of a full-scale war last night as reports came in that Georgia had mounted a large-scale attack to win back its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

According to the Russian agency Interfax, a large group of Georgian soldiers moved towards the breakaway capital, Tskhinvali, late in the evening.

The separatist President, Eduard Kokoity, told the agency that "the storming of Tskhinvali has started" and said that separatist forces were engaged with the Georgian army on the roads into the city. A statement on the separatist government's website said: "The assault is coming from all directions."

The fear is that Russia could be drawn into the conflict, with previous foreign ministry statements saying that Russia could not remain "indifferent" to an armed skirmish on its southern border. Already late last night there were reports that hundreds of volunteers were on their way from North Ossetia, which is part of Russia, through the Caucasus Mountains to join their ethnic kin in South Ossetia. The leadership of Abkhazia, Georgia's other breakaway state, said that 1,000 volunteers from Abkhazia were also on their way.

Thank goodness Beijing isn't involved...

UPDATE: Despite a declaration of restraint, it seems the Georgians are going for the jugular:

Reports Georgian forces surrounding South Ossetia capital

Georgian forces have reportedly surrounded the capital of breakaway South Ossetia and are advancing on the city.

A South Ossetian law enforcement official says 15 civilians have been killed by Georgian firing on Tshkinvali.

The Georgian government says it has decided to "restore constitutional order" in the region which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s.


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