'The answer to what the Russians plan to do with Georgia has been given. They plan to conquer it. ... ' Updates and analysis in the comments.
In from the Cold:
' ... At this point, there seems to be little doubt about Moscow's ultimate aim: removal of the Saakashvilli regime, which has been a persistent thorn in Russia's side. While U.S. transports are redeploying 4,000 Georgian troops from Iraq, their arrival will make little difference in the battle to come. With an overwhelming advantage in firepower (and complete control of the skies), the fall of Tblisi is only days away, at best.
... With the west offering little more than strongly worded statements, Russia has little reason to discontinue its offensive. Indeed, there is some debate as to what the U.S. and its allies could reasonably do, given the pace of the Russian invasion.
Well, for starters, NATO should consider a deployment of air defenses to Tblisi and other strategic locations in Georgia. There is evidence that the Russians are bombing indiscriminately, causing significant civilian casualties. Moving NATO Patriot batteries into Georgia, backed by alliance air and battle management assets, would prevent Moscow from attacking civilian targets and critical infrastructure, including those oil pipelines. ... '
'On vacation and woefully disconnected from most of the civilized world (and marginally civilized, as it may be), did I miss anyone noting the likely connection between the Kurdish PKK’s bombing of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in Turkey a mere 72 hours ahead of Russian tanks rolling on Georgia?
If someone has clearly and I have missed it in disconnection, good. If not, call me crazy, but let’s keep in mind that the PKK is a communist group - the Kurdistan Worker’s Party - and therefor the type of rebel group that stays near Putin’s KGB heart. ... '
'It's increasingly clear that the Russians had this on tap for quite sometime, and had bided their time-- and cloaked their intentions well-- for the right moment. Ugly, very ugly. It is difficult to place blame on the Georgians, although they might have (vastly) underestimated the Russian response. I feel very sorry for them, because they're getting a heavy dose of old-style Red Army firepower. And there's not much we can do to help them in the direct sense. The Black Sea is closed to us, in any case.'
'Putin has made quite clear that the only acceptable solution for him is annexing the Sudetenland, er, South Ossetia (and quite possibly Abkhazia, which might also require the Georgian port of Poti) and a Georgia with essentially no military power and back firmly under Moscow's control. I.E. forget democracy, forget elections, and most of all forget NATO and any thought of becoming Westernized. Yet, is that all that he is after?
Things to watch for over the next 48 hours to tell if that is all that is going to happen include:
• Landing of troops or other forces at or near Poti
• Escalation of bombing within Georgia, and efforts to secure complete control of the airspace over all of Georgia
• The combined arms forces advancing to or beyond the border of South Ossetia
For those that are still fixated on the idea that Georgia started this and Russia simply responded, answer me how what appears to be multiple combined-arms groups just happened to be able to respond so quickly, including the sortie of parts of the Black Sea fleet? It takes a lot of time, planning, and even movement and stockpiling of logistics to make that happen. The troubling question raised is how was it missed by -- apparently -- so many?'
'As we have been surfing the Russian blogs, diaries, and news sources, some things have been popping up that have caught our attention.
- The Georgian Army has been disabled in terms of its communications. The military communication systems have been compromised. This has created a lot of confusion among the troops, often described as chaos. The Georgian Army is not trained to operate under conditions of communications disruption.
- Russia is keeping the International Red Cross and other such agencies from working within the territories their troops are operating in, including South Ossetia. There may be a number of reasons ranging from assuming ownership of the medical care of citizens for national reasons, but also to conceal casualty numbers both civilian and military.
- There is some complaining on the Russian side regarding Israel. While virtually all media blames the Ukraine for every weapon system that kills a Russian soldier or any civilian, there is some sort of anti-vehicle weapon that locals are suggesting is Israeli in origin, and it is apparently lethal. We searched arms databases for exports and couldn't come up with anything, it may not be Israeli. There is a rumor circulating that some 50 armored vehicles and tanks have been destroyed by this weapon. The Russian UN ambassador was reportedly asked about it in the press conference today. I have not seen a transcript, but he reportedly did not answer the question.
- Russian military casualties appear to be high, and we note the number is being concealed intentionally. We are reminded of Afghanistan here. ... '
Full articles at the links.