Is August 2008 repetition possible?26.02.2010 | 14:26
Russian Ministry of Defense thinks that in case of a new assault on adjacent states Georgia will sustain a more crushing defeat, as stated by Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The general also believes that all is possible with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed likeliness of August 2008 repetition with Russian politologists and military experts.
Not long ago Konstantin Sivkov, Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems made an assumption in his interview with GeorgiaTimes that Georgia in tandem with the West is preparing an operation in South and North Caucasus which accounts for Tbilisi's military potential enhancement. "This year Saakashvili might take certain steps toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia starting from border conflicts up to special operations by subversive groups", - the expert remarked thinking that the United States intend to blow up the situation in North Caucasus in order to drag Russia into local squabbles and solve Abkhaz and South Ossetian issues in a military way.
Against the background of Konstantin Sivkov's forecast US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statement looks rather curious: she underscores Washington's commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity. "No country has a right to veto NATO expansion and ban any state from becoming an alliance member if it conforms to NATO standards, - Clinton said. - At NATO-Russia Council level the USA keep convincing Russia that NATO does not represent a threat to its national interests".
Nikolay Makarov's words are in the same vein. But where is the general driving at? GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed probability of August 2008 repetition with Russian politologists and military experts.
Sergey Mikheev, deputy director general of Center for Political Technologies
The probability is very low. Today no one is ready and no one is willing to start a conflict. I doubt Saakashvili will risk repeating the same scenario. It would be more complicated to do it now and the outcome is likely to be even more pitiful. So this scenario is absolutely out-of date. The problem is that Western partners keep helping Georgia modernize its army for it to learn the lesson of that operation well. So far the Georgian army hasn't recovered itself after the defeat of over a year ago. That is why the army is definitely weaker than it was in August 2008.
Vladimir Anokhin, vice president of Academy of Geopolitical Problems
It's not up to Georgia. It will depend on the US-Russian and Russia-NATO relations. Hillary Clinton's statements might sound provocative and harmful to the relations between Moscow and the alliance. They can even instigate "street hooliganism" when a boy asking 15 kopecs is being sent first. Georgia will be pleased to act against Russia following the Chinese principle "If you want to unite the nation - find a strong external foe". That is why I believe all things are possible but not in the near future. Tbilisi was torn to pieces and hasn't recovered itself yet. A lot will depend on external factors like supply of arms. Earlier Georgia was more at liberty since arms were shipped via Ukraine. I guess it won't be all that easy with Yanoukovich.
Anatoly Tsiganok, head of Center for Military Forecasting at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis
I don't think August 2008 events will be repeated. Russia has solved Abkhazia and South Ossetia issue. As for Georgia it is quite difficult to create a pre-war army over one year and a half. Moreover, it was the change of command that affected the Georgian army's combat effectiveness. That's why let's see Saakashvili off - it will be easier to deal with a new president.
Nonetheless, if a conflict starts, will Georgia get military aid from its allies?
Georgia had no help in 2008 - neither will it get any in future. It's absolutely evident that starting a military operation in South Ossetia the Georgian leaders relied on assistance from the Western countries. But there was no help in the end. Now we have a status quo in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And de facto, - not de jure - the West recognizes this status.
I think allies will be more cautious now. US instructors, profound trainings for troops, tons of arms in the past - all that was simply wasted. Allies will now think whether it is worthwhile to sponsor the regime that has discredited itself. Apparently Old Europe will disassociate itself from Saakashvili and Co. Baltic States will be more careful. As for Romania and Poland: they have no such resources besides they are quite greedy to lend arms. So Saakashvili will face great problems, even if he dares. As for the USA they won't do that: there's SORT to be discussed soon as well as the desire to disarm Russia. Threats from Georgia may only make our army stronger.