The war is over in Georgia and it looks, from the oulines of the peace agreement that Georgia won. I predicted that this would be the outcome in Perhaps They Miscalculated and Winning. Let us start with a report by the Volokh Conspiracy on the main points of the agreement.
Russian agreements to conclude all military operations, return Russian armed forces to the line preceding the beginning of operations and not use force again in Georgia.Now compare this to Russia's stated objectives at the start of the conflict.
In return, Georgia would return its armed forces to their normal and permanent locations.
Both sides would provide free access for humanitarian assistance; and international consideration of the issues of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would be undertaken.
MOSCOW, August 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday that the country rules out negotiations with Georgia's president, and insisted that Georgia must no longer have a peacekeeping presence in breakaway South Ossetia.Well isn't that interesting. Yesterday they were insisting that Georgia leave South Ossetia.
Today in the peace agreement all troops will return to their positions they occupied before the start of the conflict. That does not sound like Russia met that objective.
Four days on from Georgia's ground and air offensive to seize control of South Ossetia, Russian forces have forced a Georgian retreat from the province in what Moscow has labeled a major peace enforcement operation to prevent further incursions.I can't find a link now, but at the start of the conflict Russians were asking the Georgian President to step down and that he be tried for war crimes. That is not going to happen.
Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference with Finland's foreign minister in Moscow, highlighted the severity of the crimes committed by Georgian forces in their attack on South Ossetia, and said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili can no longer be considered a partner.
What else was Russia saying?
"We can hardly agree to this, as it implies that Georgian so-called peacekeepers should be in South Ossetia... Georgian peacekeepers cannot be there. They committed crimes, shooting their own [Russian] colleagues, with whom they were serving."And yet, agree to it they did. A return of all forces to their positions at the start of the conflict. And still people say the Russians won and met their objectives. I don't think so.
What most people fail to realize is that a fighting retreat is not the same as a defeat. In mobile positional warfare what you want to do is to draw the opposition in an untenable position so that you can deliver a counter stroke when he is fully extended. Draw out the supply lines and then attack the enemy's rear where he is the weakest and his supply lines are the most vulnerable. Avoid smashing into the spear head. Break the shaft.
My take is that the Georgians had done that and were about to deliver a counter stroke. What do you do at such a point if you want to keep looking good in the world of public opinion? Declare victory and prepare to beat feet.
"The best thing would be for him to resign," Lavrov said, while stressing that Russia has "no plans to force anyone from power - this is not in our political culture at all."Yeah. Sure. Tell it to the Marines. That was not their position at the beginning.
What does the president of Georgia have to say?
Saakashvili said he did not want to leave "any doubt" about whether Georgia's territorial integrity is up for discussion. "This is out of the question," he said.And what would the territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders include? South Ossetia.
He said he would welcome an international process for security arrangements.
"Georgia needs to get back to normal," he said. "For all the people who are suffering out there, this is good news."
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said: "I wanted to make very clear that the United States stands for the territorial integrity of Georgia, for the sovereignty of Georgia; that we support its democratically elected government and people, and are reviewing options for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Georgia. But the most important thing right now is that these military operations need to stop."
Here is more of what the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had to say.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at an early morning news conference with Sarkozy his country would not allow its territorial integrity to be put into doubt under any peace agreement.Why would Russia give up its ambitions to keep South Ossetia if it was winning the war? It makes no sense. Let me repeat a paragraph I posted in Perhaps They Miscalculated.
"The territorial integrity and belonging of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgia can never be put under doubt."
A key reference to negotiation on the "future status" of two rebel zones in Georgia was cut from the peace plan, they said, with talks to focus instead on how to ensure "security and stability" there.
However, they miscalculated by not announcing in advance “limited objectives”. Now it will look like they have been defeated by a fifth rate power with American friends. Bad for morale. Bad for their world image.So far the Russian spin machine seems to be working well. Most people believe Russia met its objectives and Georgia got taught a lesson.
I think Russia got taught a lesson. Coming up against American trained troops is no cake walk. Russia might be able to defeat such troops if it applied enough power but it would be at an unacceptable cost.
Some one got taught a lesson. I don't think it was the Georgians.
Cross Posted at Classical Values