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Former SSR Georgia 'under attack' [update - Russia behind Kyrgyzstan base close?]

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Former SSR Georgia 'under attack' [update - Russia behind Kyrgyzstan base close?]

Old 08-08-08, 11:36 AM
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Former SSR Georgia 'under attack' [update - Russia behind Kyrgyzstan base close?]

Georgia 'under attack' as Russian tanks roll in

TBLISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Georgia's president said Friday that his country is under attack by Russian tanks and warplanes, and he accused Russia of targeting civilians as tensions over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia appeared to boil over into full-blown conflict.

"All day today, they've been bombing Georgia from numerous warplanes and specifically targeting (the) civilian population, and we have scores of wounded and dead among (the) civilian population all around the country," President Mikhail Saakashvili told CNN in an exclusive interview.

"This is the worst nightmare one can encounter," he said.

Hundres of people, possibly thousands, are fleeing South Ossetia to the Russian region of North Ossetia-Alania, the United Nations reported Friday, citing Russian officials. About 400 more are believed to have fled for other parts of Georgia, the United Nations said.

Asked whether Georgia and Russia were now at war, he said, "My country is in self-defense against Russian aggression. Russian troops invaded Georgia." Watch the interview with Saakashvili »

About 150 Russian armored vehicles have entered South Ossetia, Saakashvili said, and Georgian forces had shot down two Russian aircraft. Watch the Russian tanks moving into the area »

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meanwhile said Moscow had received reports that villages in South Ossetia were being ethnically cleansed, according to Reuters.com.

"We are receiving reports that a police of ethnic cleansing was being conducted in villages in South Ossetia, the number of refugees is climbing, the panic is growing, people are trying to save their lives," he was reported saying.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax, said Russians had died because of Georgia's operations.

Russia "will not allow the deaths of our compatriots to go unpunished" and "those guilty will receive due punishment," he said. "My duty as Russian president is to safeguard the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they are. This is what is behind the logic of the steps we are undertaking now."

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, but it was not internationally recognized. Many ethnic Ossetians feel close to Russia and have Russian passports and use its currency. iReport.com: Are you there, share your photos, videos

Russia's Defense Ministry said it sent "reinforcements" to South Ossetia to help the Russian peacekeepers already stationed there.

Earlier Friday, Russian military aircraft dropped two bombs on Georgian territory, a Georgian official said, causing no casualties. Georgian officials also report four Russian aircraft shot down.

The U.S., NATO and European Union have all called for an end to the fighting. U.S. President George Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday discussed the conflict in Georgia, the White House confirmed.

In a letter addressed to his "fellow citizens" Friday, Saakashvili said he had mobilized tens of thousands of reserve officers and that the mobilization continued.

"We must unite," Saakashvili wrote. "All of us, hundreds of thousands of Georgians here and abroad, should come together, unite, and fight to save Georgia. We are a freedom-loving people, and if our nation is united, no aggressor will be able to harm it."

Georgia declared a unilateral three-hour cease fire at 3 p.m. to enable civilians to escape from the conflict zone, which so far was focused inside South Ossetia but included aerial targets inside Georgia, Saakashvili said.

"Clearly they don't really have boundaries in their activities," said Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili, in an interview with CNN. She said Russian aircraft had bombed "several villages" in Georgia outside of the South Ossetian territory.

By early evening Friday, Georgian Cabinet minister said the country's forces have taken control of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. He spoke to Interfax news agency, which also quoted separtists denying the city was udner Georgian control.

Tkeshelashvili said Georgian authorities are still collecting information on casualties.

Georgia was appealing to the world for diplomatic intervention, she said, stressing that Georgia was not asking for military assistance.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it was sending an envoy to the region immediately.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer issued a statement Friday saying he was seriously concerned about the recent events in the region, and he called on all sides to end armed clashes and begin direct talks. Watch more about NATO's attempts to help Georgia »

Carmen Romero, a NATO spokeswoman speaking to CNN from Brussels, reiterated Scheffer's statement. She said NATO was in regular contact with Georgia's president and was talking to the Russian side.

Britain and the United States also urged all sides to bring an immediate end to the violence. Acting U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos said: "We support Georgia's territorial integrity and call for an immediate cease-fire. We urge all parties ... to de-escalate and avoid conflict

An emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Friday discussed the dramatic escalation of violence. The session ended Friday morning without a statement about the fighting.

Violence has been mounting in the region in recent days, with sporadic clashes between Georgian forces and South Ossetian separatists. Georgian troops launched new attacks in South Ossetia late Thursday after a top government official said a unilateral cease-fire offer was met with separatist artillery fire.

Alexander Lomaia, the secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, said Georgian troops were responding proportionately to separatist mortar and artillery attacks on two villages -- attacks he said followed the cease-fire and call for negotiations by Saakashvili.

Russia said a Georgian attack on a military barracks left a number of Russian peacekeepers dead.

"It's all very sad and alarming," Putin said earlier in the day. "And, of course, there will be a response."

"There are lots of volunteers being gathered in the region, and it's very hard to withhold them from taking part. A real war is going on," Putin said, according to his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

Russian peacekeepers are in South Ossetia under a 1992 agreement by Russian, Georgian, and South Ossetian authorities to maintain what has been a fragile peace. The mixed peacekeeping force also includes Georgian and South Ossetian troops.

Saakashvili said the Russian invasion of South Ossetia was pre-planned.

"These troops that are in Georgia now -- they didn't come unexpectedly," the president told CNN. "They had been amassing at the border for the last few months. They claimed they were staging exercises there and as soon as a suitable pretext was found, they moved in."

Georgia, located on the Black Sea coast between Russia and Turkey, has been split by Russian-backed separatist movements in South Ossetia and another region, Abkhazia.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe...tia/index.html
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Old 08-08-08, 11:47 AM
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Is there something you want to discuss about this?
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Old 08-08-08, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by X
Is there something you want to discuss about this?
Maybe they shouldn't be a pre-season #1?
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Old 08-08-08, 11:59 AM
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Sorry X, I should have posted some comments but I'm still digesting the news and what it means.

I'm not sure who is in the right here. South Ossetia is nominally Georgian, but they've been trying to break away and become part of Russia since the USSR fell apart. But there's also a substantial Georgian population in South Ossetia. It's a bit like Northern Ireland or Kashmir, where there's a mixed population and somebody's going to be unhappy no matter what.

Also, given Russian ambitions and Russian nationalism, I'm a bit skeptical when they say they are simply acting to protect ethnic Russians who are being attacked by Georgians.

South Ossetia is also predominantly Christian (like Georgia and Russia), but with a significant Muslim population, which will further complicate things in terms of outside parties trying to get involved.

Like I said, I'm still digesting things, but I think this is the biggest event, foreign-policy wise, since the invasion of Iraq (and has the potential to be even bigger).
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Old 08-08-08, 12:07 PM
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So people have a sense of the geography, here is a map I stole from wikimedia:

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Old 08-08-08, 12:16 PM
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I realize that apparatchiks of the former republic still remain but couldn't they at least publish the map in color?
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Old 08-08-08, 12:17 PM
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The article I read this morning said that Georgia had invaded S Ossetia to try to get control of the break away province
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Old 08-08-08, 12:24 PM
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First thought: Wolverines!

Second thought: China's gotta be pissed at Russia eating into their Olympics coverage.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:26 PM
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DZHAVA, Georgia - Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases Friday after Georgia launched a major military offensive Friday to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, threatening to ignite a broader conflict.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Sorry X, I should have posted some comments but I'm still digesting the news and what it means.
C'mon, you know you want to say it -- "End this illegal war!"
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Old 08-08-08, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
The article I read this morning said that Georgia had invaded S Ossetia to try to get control of the break away province
Yep - Georgia was clearly the agressor here and Russia responded. But CNN and several other major news sites aren't reporting it that way.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:40 PM
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Panzerfausts to the front!
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Old 08-08-08, 12:40 PM
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Digging into some archived files, back in December Stratfor predicted this would happen, as soon as Putin had established his successor and there was enough domestic stability to make it viable. A quote:
Backing Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence is the next logical move for Russia if it is serious about cracking Georgia, because Russia already has a military presence in these regions, making it all the easier. But Putin is most likely to wait until his checklist for domestic Russian politics has a few more items crossed off — presumably after the March presidential elections and a decision on Putin’s new role leading the country — before he signs a declaration of support.

Moreover, Putin will want to make sure he knows that Russia would be able to pull off such a large and definitive move — including an actual war — without outside interference. This means he will want to make sure the United States is still tangled up with more pressing issues like Iran and Iraq. Putin will not want to risk attracting U.S. attention as Moscow begins such an offensive. The United States would not come sweeping into the conflict — as much as the Georgians would like that — but it would target Russian aggressions elsewhere, such as its moves along the former Soviet Union’s periphery. But Putin knows that his timetable is shrinking because the longer he waits, the more likely the United States is to get other concerns wrapped up. Moscow has a small window of opportunity.

All the circumstances and logistics might not matter to Tbilisi. Even the rumblings of the Duma moving on the matter could put Georgia in a frenzy. This could push the Georgians to move against the secessionist regions first — something Moscow would love. This would give Russia reason to sweep in and protect the Ossetians and Abkhaz from the “trigger-happy” Georgians — a circumstance the Kremlin could spin to its advantage.
If I dig up any more analysis I'll post it.

Last edited by wendersfan; 08-08-08 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-08-08, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Shannon Nutt
Yep - Georgia was clearly the agressor here and Russia responded. But CNN and several other major news sites aren't reporting it that way.
Keep in mind though that South Ossetia is Georgian territory, so there is a qualitative difference between Georgia sending troops into South Ossetia and Russia doing so. It's as if we sent troops to Arizona and Mexico responding by sending its army across the border. Only it's not exactly like that, since for my analogy to be true, a large portion of the Arizona population would have to be trying to secede from the U.S. and join Mexico.

The real issue bubbling under the surface here is Georgia's bid to join NATO. The U.S. wants them in (and they want in); France and Germany opposed it because they said it would anger Russia. NATO deferred the decision this spring, but signalled very strongly that they would admit Georgia in the near future.

Considering the purpose of NATO (a mutual defense alliance), one has to wonder if they (we) will get involved in this conflict.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:46 PM
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Yup, it seems pretty clear that Georgia launched an offensive to take control of South Ossetia and that the Russians responded. Here's an AP article:

Georgian army moves to retake South Ossetia

The Associated PressPublished: August 8, 2008

DZHAVA, Georgia: Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases Friday after Georgia launched a major military offensive Friday to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, threatening to ignite a broader conflict.

Hundreds of civilians were reported dead in the worst outbreak of hostilities since the province won defacto independence in a war against Georgia that ended in 1992. Witnesses said the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali was devastated.

"I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars," said Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, who had fled with her family to Dzhava, a village near the border with Russia. "It's impossible to count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged."

The fighting broke out as much of the world's attention was focused on the start of the Olympic Games and many leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Bush, were in Beijing.

The timing suggests Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may have been counting on surprise to fulfill his longtime pledge to wrest back control of South Ossetia — a key to his hold on power.

Saakashvili agreed the timing was not coincidental, but accused Russia of being the aggressor. "Most decision makers have gone for the holidays," he said in an interview with CNN. "Brilliant moment to attack a small country."

The United States was sending an envoy to the region on Friday to meet with the parties involved to try to end hostilities.

"We support Georgia's territorial integrity," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters. "We are working on mediation efforts to secure a cease-fire."

South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard Kokoity claimed hundreds of civilians had been killed.

Ten Russian peacekeepers were killed and 30 wounded when their barracks were hit in Georgian shelling, said Russian Ground Forces spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov. Russia has soldiers in South Ossetia as peacekeeping forces but Georgia alleges they back the separatists.

Georgia, which borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the breakup of the Soviet Union. Georgia, a staunch U.S. ally, has angered Russia by seeking NATO membership — a bid Moscow regards as part of a Western effort to weaken its influence in the region.

Speaking earlier on Georgian television, Saakashvili accused Russia of sending aircraft to bomb Georgian territory, which Russia denied.

Russia's Defense Ministry said it was sending reinforcements for its peacekeepers, and Russian state television and Georgian officials reported a convoy of tanks had crossed the border. The convoy was expected to reach the provincial capital, Tskhinvali, by evening, Channel One television said.

Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili said government troops were now in full control of the city.

"We are facing Russian aggression," said Georgia's Security Council chief Kakha Lomaya. "They have sent in their troops and weapons and they are bombing our towns."

Putin has warned that the Georgian attack will draw retaliation and the Defense Ministry pledged to protect South Ossetians, most of whom have Russian citizenship.

Chairing a session of his Security Council in the Kremlin, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also vowed that Moscow will protect Russian citizens.

"In accordance with the constitution and federal law, I, as president of Russia, am obliged to protect lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are located," Medvedev said, according to Russian news reports. "We won't allow the death of our compatriots go unpunished."

An AP reporter saw tanks and other heavy weapons concentrating on the Russian side of the border with South Ossetia — supporting the Russian TV reports of an incursion. Some villagers were fleeing into Russia.

"I saw them (the Georgians) shelling my village," said Maria, who gave only her first name. She said she and other villagers spent the night in a field and then fled toward the Russian border as the fighting escalated.

Yakobashvili said Georgian forces have shot down four Russian combat planes over Georgian territory. He gave no details. Russia's Defense Ministry denied an earlier Georgia report about one Russian plane downed and has had no immediate comment on the latest claim.

Yakobashvili said that one Russian plane had dropped a bomb on the Vaziani military base near the Georgian capital, but no one was hurt.

More than 1,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers were at the base last month to teach combat skills to Georgian troops. Georgia has about 2,000 troops in Iraq, making it the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain.

South Ossetia officials said Georgia attacked with aircraft, armor and heavy artillery. Georgian troops fired missiles at Tskhinvali, an official said, and many buildings were on fire.

Georgia's president said Russian aircraft bombed several Georgian villages and other civilian facilities.

"A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," Saakashvili said in a televised statement. He also announced a full military mobilization with reservists being called into action.

A senior Russian diplomat in charge of the South Ossetian conflict, Yuri Popov, dismissed the Georgian claims of Russian bombings as misinformation, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

Russia's Defense Ministry denounced the Georgian attack as a "dirty adventure." "Blood shed in South Ossetia will weigh on their conscience," the ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev later chaired a session of his Security Council in the Kremlin, vowing that Moscow will protect Russian citizens.

"In accordance with the constitution and federal law, I, as president of Russia, am obliged to protect lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are located," Medvedev said, according to Russian news reports. "We won't allow the death of our compatriots go unpunished."

Saakashvili long has pledged to restore Tbilisi's rule over South Ossetia and another breakaway province, Abkhazia. Both regions have run their own affairs without international recognition since splitting from Georgia in the early 1990s and built up ties with Moscow.

Relations between Georgia and Russia worsened notably this year as Georgia pushed to join NATO and Russia dispatched additional peacekeeper forces to Abkhazia.

The Georgian attack came just hours after Saakashvili announced a unilateral cease-fire in a television broadcast late Thursday in which he also urged South Ossetian separatist leaders to enter talks on resolving the conflict.

Georgian officials later blamed South Ossetian separatists for thwarting the cease-fire by shelling Georgian villages in the area.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:57 PM
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I found this Q&A from the BBC useful in understanding a little better what's going on

Q&A: Violence in South Ossetia
Escalating tensions between Georgia and its breakaway province of South Ossetia have erupted into serious fighting.

The separatist administration in South Ossetia has been trying to gain formal independence since breaking away in a civil war in the 1990s.

Russia has troops in the region, on a peacekeeping mandate. But Moscow also supports the separatists.

What is the status of South Ossetia?

South Ossetia has run its own affairs since fighting for independence from Georgia in 1991-92, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It has declared independence, though this has not been recognised by any other country.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, back under full Georgian control.

Why do Ossetians want to break away?

The Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group originally from the Russian plains just south of the Don river. In the 13th Century, they were pushed southwards by Mongol invasions into the Caucasus mountains, settling along the border with Georgia.

South Ossetians want to join up with their ethnic brethren in North Ossetia, which is an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation.

Ethnic Georgians are a minority in South Ossetia, accounting for less than one-third of the population.

But Georgia rejects even the name, South Ossetia, preferring to call it by the ancient name of Samachablo, or Tskhinvali, after its main city.

What triggered the latest crisis?

Tension has risen since the election of President Saakashvili in 2004. He offered South Ossetia dialogue and autonomy within a single Georgian state - but in 2006 South Ossetians voted in an unofficial referendum to press their demands for complete independence.

In April 2008 Nato said Georgia would be allowed to join the alliance at some point - angering Russia, which opposes the eastward expansion of Nato. Weeks later, Russia stepped up ties with the separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In July Russia admitted its fighter jets entered Georgian airspace over South Ossetia to "cool hot heads in Tbilisi". Occasional clashes escalated, until six people were reportedly killed by Georgian shelling. Attempts to reach a ceasefire quickly collapsed.

Could Russia become directly involved in war?

Russia insists it has been acting as a peacekeeper in South Ossetia, rejecting Georgian accusations that it has been supplying arms to the separatists.

However, it has vowed to defend its citizens in South Ossetia - of which there are many. More than half of South Ossetia's 70,000 citizens are said to have taken up Moscow's offer of a Russian passport.

Russia may view limited military intervention as less risky than recognising South Ossetia's independence, which could lead to all-out war with Georgia.

What about Georgia's links to Nato?

President Saakashvili has made membership of Nato one of his main goals. Georgia has a close relationship with the United States and has been cultivating ties with Western Europe.

There are those who believe that Mr Saakashvili may be hoping to draw Nato into a conflict with Moscow, making their alliance a formal one.

But analysts say it is difficult to imagine Nato allowing itself to be drawn into a direct conflict with its Cold War rival after managing to avoid that for so long.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7549736.stm
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Old 08-08-08, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
Yup, it seems pretty clear that Georgia launched an offensive to take control of South Ossetia and that the Russians responded. Here's an AP article:





Yeah, Georgia was the aggressor and the Russians merely responded.
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Old 08-08-08, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
Yup, it seems pretty clear that Georgia launched an offensive to take control of South Ossetia and that the Russians responded. Here's an AP article:
* Choose the country you wish to conquer.

* Find an area within that country with a large ethnic German population.

* Rattle sabers over the mistreatment of the ethnic Germans. If possible, promote civil unrest in the area.

* When the enemy moves troops into the area, declare them the aggressor. If need be, say that they opened fire on your own troops.

* Invade!

--Official Nazi Party Play Book, 1935
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Old 08-08-08, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara
* Choose the country you wish to conquer.

* Find an area within that country with a large ethnic German population.

* Rattle sabers over the mistreatment of the ethnic Germans. If possible, promote civil unrest in the area.

* When the enemy moves troops into the area, declare them the aggressor. If need be, say that they opened fire on your own troops.

* Invade!
*

* Profit!

I wholeheartedly support <strike>Germany's</strike> Russia's heroic defense of <strike>the Sudetenland</strike> South Ossetia.
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Old 08-08-08, 01:24 PM
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thanks to that map, now i know where Trebizond archers are from in Medieval Total War
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Old 08-08-08, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh

Yeah, Georgia was the aggressor and the Russians merely responded.
1. Georgia launches offensive to "retake" South Ossetia.
2. Russia responds.

Please point out why you believe that this is incorrect, and why my post makes you giddy with laughter when at least two people before me posted the same thing.

Last edited by eXcentris; 08-08-08 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 08-08-08, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
1. Georgia lunches offensive to "retake" South Ossetia.
2. Russia responds.

Please point out why you believe that this is incorrect, and why it makes you giddy with laughter.
Pharoh can speak for himself, but for my money, "retake" has implications that simply aren't true. South Ossetia is part of Georgia, and always has been. What right does Russia have to respond to an internal Georgian situation?

Note that I do not mean in any way to suggest that Georgia is blameless here. Saakashvilli has clearly been rattling sabers and doing everything he can to antagonize Russia. He had to have known how Russia would react to the move he made today in South Ossetia. But let's not pretend that Russia is a benevolent, innocent protector of the poor defenseless Ossetians in this situation.
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Old 08-08-08, 02:20 PM
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When I turned on CNN this morning and saw the headline "Russia Invades Georgia", I had to suppress a giggle imagining a backwoods person seeing that and yelling "Martha! Get my musket! The Russkies are coming!"
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Old 08-08-08, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
When I turned on CNN this morning and saw the headline "Russia Invades Georgia", I had to suppress a giggle imagining a backwoods person seeing that and yelling "Martha! Get my musket! The Russkies are coming!"
I added the words "Fromer SSR" to my post title because I didn't want to give Venusian a heart attack.
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Old 08-08-08, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
I added the words "Fromer SSR" to my post title because I didn't want to give Venusian a heart attack.
So you don't mind giving das or <b>atlantamoi</b> heart failure?

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