Voices from Russia

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Compelling the Georgians to Stand Down

Filed under: military,politics,Russian,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

South Ossetian militia in positions outside Tskhinvali (2004 photo)

Russian forces freed Tskhinvali from Georgian troops, carrying out “an operation to compel the Georgian forces to stand down”.

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Today, Russian forces expelled Georgian troops from the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, according to General Vladimir Boldyrev, the commander-in-chief of the ground forces at a briefing in Vladikavkaz. “Battalion tactical groups completely cleared Tskhinvali of Georgian forces and are expelling Georgian units from the zone of responsibility of the peacekeeping forces. We are organising the evacuation of wounded Russian peacekeepers and Ossetian civilians to hospitals in the RF”, he said. In addition, he emphasised, “The situation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone is still very fluid. At present, our units are carrying out operations to compel the Georgians to cease hostilities and they are protecting the local civilian population”.

Meanwhile, South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity, at the headquarters of the South Ossetian Defence Force in Tskhinvali, said to our Interfax correspondent, “Now, the city has been cleared by the South Ossetian forces. We are in complete control of Tskhinvali. The artillery of our forces and of the Russian 58th Army is firing on the heights surrounding the city. The Georgian special ops troops are fleeing South Ossetia in American jeeps, discarding their weapons as they go”.

In turn, the assistant to the commander of the mixed peacekeeping force, Vladimir Ivanov, said, “The Georgian troops in Tskhinvali surrendered their positions to the South Ossetian side, and they were driven from their previously-occupied posts”. He went on to say that a battalion tactical group of the 58th Army cleared all of the Georgian motor-rifle units out of the city. Mr Ivanov added that at present there was fighting near the village of Nikozi. Georgian mortar positions were destroyed and Russian forces were only firing at military targets. “Now, there is still some shelling of Tskhinvali by large-calibre Georgian artillery and Grad multiple-rocket-launchers”, he noted.

As of 13.55 MST (09.55 GMT, 05.55 EDT), Georgian artillery renewed its fire on the positions of the Russian peacekeeping force, our Interfax correspondent reported. “There was shelling of our positions, probably using heavy artillery”, a source said to our correspondent. At 18.00 MST (14.00 GMT, 10.00 EDT), Georgian troops attempted a second assault on Tskhinvali, but, it was easily repelled. President Kokoity of South Ossetia said to Interfax, “Many Georgian combat vehicles were destroyed”.

In the meantime, a Russian airborne unit arrived in Tskhinvali to strengthen the Russian group of forces in South Ossetia, according to Colonel Igor Konashenkov, the assistant to the galvkom (high command) of the ground forces. He also reported that units of the 98th Airborne Division from Ivanovo and Spetsnaz units from the 45th Independent Reconnaissance Regiment from Moscow shall move into the region. “All the airborne troops shall arrive in the battle-zone with their full kit of equipment. In addition, the units shall be reinforced with tanks and artillery”, he said. Colonel Konashenkov further noted that the transfer of the airborne units to the Northern Caucasus would involve over 100 sorties by the VTA (Military Transport Aviation). Colonel Konashenkov also stated, “The airborne troops from Pskov know the area of operations very well, since they repeatedly participated in manoeuvres in adjacent North Ossetia”.

Military sources told Interfax that more than 2,000 airborne troops are being deployed in South Ossetia, organised into four reinforced battalion tactical groups. Today, the assistant chief of the general staff, Colonel General Anatoly Nagovitsyn, emphatically told journalists in a briefing that the Russian forces in South Ossetia are there only for peacekeeping purposes and shall not invade Georgia. A journalist asked him, “Is it possible for us to consider that Russia is in a state of war with Georgia?” General Nagovitsyn said in reply, “All of our planned operations are for the peacekeeping mission, so, we shall carry out only the evolutions necessary for that function”.

Meanwhile, Ruslan Kishmariya, the plenipotentiary of the President of Abkhazia in Galsky raion, reported to our Interfax correspondent today that there was a reinforcement of the Georgian positions all along the Georgian-Abkhazian border. He told us that observers from the Abkhazian side detected several units of BMP infantry combat vehicles and BTR armoured personnel carriers near the villages of Tkaya, Ganmukhuri, and Shamgona. “The presence in the DMZ of military vehicles is a violation of the 1994 Moscow ceasefire agreement. The Abkhazian side intends to inform the representatives of the UN mission and the command of the CIS peacekeeping forces of this violation of the ceasefire accord, and we shall demand the immediate withdrawal of the vehicles from the DMZ”, Mr Kishmariya said. He went on to say that Georgia deployed six Grad multiple-rocket-launchers near Zugdidi. All of these posts are also manned by Georgian infantry, according to Mr Kishmariya. The units of the eastern group of the Abkhazian forces, in accordance with a decision of the Abkhazian Security Council, advanced yesterday into the Galsky raion, concentrating on the outer edge of the DMZ controlled by the CIS peacekeeping force, and were placed on a high alert status, Mr Kishmariya specified.

Today, Georgian President Saakashvili convened a session of the Georgian National Security Council and the decreed the imposition of martial law throughout Georgia.

9 August 2008

Lev Rubin

Interfax

http://www.interfax.ru/txt.asp?id=26093&sec=1484

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