Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 23, 2008

The Mysterious 'Sarkozy Letter'

Isn't it  funny how some 'western' politician still bluster about the signed ceasefire agreement over Georgia and Russian peacekeepers in Georgia. But they do this, of course, with a purpose. They want to change the accepted and signed ceasefire agreement.

To understand what is happening here, one has to go back to the phases that led to the ceasefire agreement. I will try to do so below and unfortunately it will be a bit longish.

So here is the short version:
The United States tries to change the signed ceasefire agreement over Georgia.

After Sarkozy negotiated with Russia and the ceasefire was agreed upon by both sides, the U.S. was very disappointed (and mad with Sarko).

Rice went to Paris and pressed Sarkozy to write a letter to Saakashvili that gives a very lopsided U.S./Georgia friendly interpretation of the ceasefire agreement. Legally that letter is completely without merit.

But now the U.S. wants this lopsided interpretation laid down only in a letter from Sarkozy to Saakashvili to became a legal part of the ceasefire agreement via a resolution at the UN Security Council.

It uses the 'Sarkozy letter' to make propaganda against legal troop movements and checkpoints the Russians are operating within Georgia. The media, of course, falls for it.

Russia of course will never agree to that outcome. It has no reason to do so and still most of the pressure points.

The situation on the ground:
The Russians have pulled their troops back into or near South Ossetia and Abkhasia along the peacekeeping lines that were agreed upon in the 1990s. They additionally keep lookout posts at Georgia's main port Poti and in Senaki as well as near the major east-west road north of Gori.


Map courtesy of BBC (the map is a few days old - there currently are no clashes)

To any strategist the reason is obvious. The port at Poti is the most likely point through which heavier weapons could get into the country. (Turkey is unlikely to allow any weapon transports that could seriously upset its relations with Russia.) The outpost in Senaki is needed to provide a secure 'line of communication' from Abkhazia to the observer troops in Poti. The post north of Gori is a lookout for heavy truck and military traffic on that major road.

These troops WILL stay there until Russia gets what it wants at the UN Security Council.

The U.S., of course, does not like that:

U.S. Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the Russians "without a doubt have failed to live up to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement."

An immediate concern expressed by all sides involved buffer zones outside of two Georgian breakaway provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia insists it has the right to create these zones under the cease-fire deal, but Wood said, "Establishing check-points and buffer zones are definitely not part of the agreement."

Wood is of course wrong. Point 5 of the signed ceasefire agreement says:

Russian forces must go back to positions they held prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Pending an international peace monitoring mechanism, Russian peacekeepers will take additional security measures.

That is of course an excellent, short but wideranging formulation - from the Russian point of view.

Any "international peace monitoring mechanism" will need a Security Council mandate or an OSCE agreement, both of which can be stalled until Russia gets what it wants. 

"Additional security measures" can arguably include about any military or police measure the Russians want to implement on the ground of Georgia. If traffic control by Russian peacekeepers in Tbilisi is needed as an additional security measure, there is little anyone can legally say against Russia implementing such. (They would not be so dumb to actually try such a thing.)

The CNN report linked above tries to explain the U.S. justification for Robert Wood's faked outrage:

In a letter clarifying that point, French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- who helped broker the deal -- wrote that such measures "may only be implemented in the immediate proximity of South Ossetia to the exclusion of any other part of Georgian territory."

He added that the measures must be "inside a zone of a depth of a few kilometers from the administrative limit between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia in a manner such that no significant urban zone would be included."

Huh, what letter? Written to whom, when, where? CNN will not tell you any of that ...

Here is the history of the 'Sarkozy letter':
In the early morning hours of Friday August 8 Georgia opened an artillery barrage against the South Ossetian city of Tskhinvali which was under protection of internationally acknowledged Russian peacekeepers. Russia asked for an immediate UN statement to restore peace, but the ''west' declined. (InnerCityPress live-blogged the day from the UN.) Within twelve hours Russia reacted and put forces on the ground to fight back the attacking Georgians.

On August 10 the Georgian forces were mostly beaten and Saakashshvili offered ceasefire talks.

On August 11 the French foreign minister Kouchner and his Finnish colleague Stubb made up some ceasefire agreement, presumably without talking to the Russians, which Saakashvili is said to have signed. They were supposed to bring that paper to Moscow, but there is no report that they ever arrived there. Either Georgia or Russia (or someone else?) rejected that paper.

In the night from the 11th to 12th Georgian troops fled from the western part of Georgia and the central city of Gori towards Tbilisi as it was feared that the Russians would march towards the capital.

On August 12 the Russian foreign minister Lavrov:

sharply criticized the West for failing to convince Tbilisi to renounce force.

“Our foreign partners have done nothing to force Tbilisi, to use their influence with Tbilisi, for the signature of a legally-binding document" on renunciation of force, Lavrov said.

With Kouchner's mission aborted, Sarkozy flew to Moscow on August 12 to negotiate a new version. The Russians told him what they wanted and Sarkozy dutifully wrote it down. He then flew to Tbilisi but Saakashvili (and his U.S. minders) did not want to agree to the terms. The point of difference was one word in point 6 of the agreement:

Launch of international discussions on status, security and stability arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The formulation was taken from the Kosovo case where it had been used by the 'west' to take Kosovo away from Serbia. Georgia demanded to take away the word "status" as this would endanger its 'territorial integrity'. Russia agreed because it found the formulation "discussion on security and stability agreement" strong enough for its purpose as it includes no guarantee for 'territorial integrity'.

This is currently one point of trouble within the UN security council. The 'west' wants to have the words 'territorial integrity' of Georgia in the new resolution, Russia demands the exact quote from the signed ceasefire agreement which then in later negotiations could eventually allow to split off South Ossetia and Abchasia.

After the word "status" was taken out of clause 6, Saakashvili accepted the ceasefire agreement but did not formally sign any paper.

On August 13/14 Sec State Rice flew to Paris to talk with Sarkozy. She was supposed to take the formal agreement from Paris for signature to Tbilisi.

But as the world only learned days later, she pressed Sarkozy to write a letter to Saakashvili to 'clarify' points in the ceasefire agreement in a way that changed the meaning of two important points of the original agreement. The Russians were verbally informed about the letter but said, "So what?" They made clear that in relation to them such a letter represents in no way a legal document. "Why should we care what love letters Sarko writes to Saak?"

On August 15 Rice arrived in Tbilisi. Later that day Saakashvili was reported to have signed the ceasefire.

But did he?

Late on Friday US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from her plane after leaving the Georgian capital Tbilisi. A US official said Lavrov told Rice Russia would faithfully implement the ceasefire agreement, but wanted to see Saakashvili's signature on the document first.

Never trust anyone until the dotted line is really signed ...

On Sunday the 16th Medvedev signed the formal agreement the French sent him, but somehow that version was different from the one Saakashvili signed (after signature such documents get swapped):

The copy signed by Saakashvili somehow lost a preamble that said the document was the result of an agreement reached between Medvedev and Sarkozy. When this became known, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would use diplomatic channels to find out who had modified the text.

Rice picked up the document (and Sarko's letter) in Paris on her way to Tbilisi. The document that was sent from Paris to Moscow for signature had the preamble. The one to Tbilisi arrived without it. Did Rice take away the part that credited Sarkozy-Medvedev negotiations? Why? (How does this relate to the letter?)

The negotiations were over, the documents signed and exchanged and the legal process closed.

But then on Saturday(!), August 16, this somewhat weird report came out:

PARIS, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Russia must withdraw from all major towns in Georgia under a peace accord it has signed, despite conditions authorising "additional security measures," according to a letter sent by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili.

"As I specified at our joint press conference in Tbilisi, these 'additional security measures' can only be implemented in the immediate proximity of South Ossetia to the exclusion of any other part of Georgian territory," read the letter, made public by Sarkozy's office on Sunday.

The French-brokered agreement drafted this week authorises Russian forces to take extra security measures on a temporary basis pending the arrival of international peacekeepers -- which requires a U.N. Security Council resolution.
...
Sarkozy's letter said that under the accord, Russian forces would not be authorised to remain in any major towns outside South Ossetia and road and rail transport should be guaranteed.

"More precisely, these 'measures' may only be implemented within a zone of a few kilometres from the administrative limits between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, in such a way that no major urban centre is included -- I am thinking in particular of the town of Gori," the letter read.

"Special arrangements will have to be defined to guarantee freedom of movement along the road and rail routes of Georgia," it said.

None of these specifications are mentioned in the very short, legally signed and binding actual agreement. Why does Sarkozy believe he can interpret that at will and in this quite specific manner?

S arranges a contract between A and B where B has to pay 10,000. After the contract is signed, S tells B that he interprets 10,000 as to be actually seen as 100. B very much likes that interpretation. But why should A agree to it?

The letter that Reuters published on Saturday while reporting it to be published on Sunday seems to have been kept completely secret until the Inner City Press (ICP) got hold of it:

While the document handed to Inner City Press Thursday at the stakeout begins, "The Presidency of the Republic [of France], for the sake of transparency, wished to make public the letter," afterwards numerous reporters and even senior diplomats in the Security Council asked Inner City Press for copies of Sarkozy's letter. Inner City Press made copies, for the sake of France's transparency.

To sum it up:

Sarkozy took a dictation from Russia for the ceasefire in Georgia, especially point 5 and 6. He went to Tbilisi and after further negotiation, the Russians agreed to a one word change. Saakashvili verbally agreed to that 'draft'. The U.S. didn't like that.

Then Rice flies to Paris and also gives a dictation to Sarkozy. He pens a letter to Saakashvili and includes the U.S. interpretation that the unlimited clause 'additional security measures' in the agreement actually is supposed to mean whatever the U.S. says it means. Rice takes the letter and the ceasefire document to Tbilisi and Saakashvili must sign.

Now the U.S. in the public media and in the UN Security Council uses the formerly secret Sarkozy letter to argue that Russia is not keeping to a version of the ceasefire it has never agreed to.

The Russian UN ambassador had rather opinionated words for that which you can hear and see in this RealVideo stream at 5:20.

Posted by b on August 23, 2008 at 01:46 PM | Permalink

Comments

Great analysis, b.

Posted by: Alex | Aug 23, 2008 2:07:36 PM | 1

thanks for pulling it all together, b

Posted by: b real | Aug 23, 2008 2:21:55 PM | 2

than you for your solidity b - don't know how you do it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23, 2008 2:33:28 PM | 3

uau, this people twisting and spining upon actual signed documents can be recorded as new low on diplomacy...
mr. sarko owes some serious explanation to world's public
ditto #1, 2 & 3

Posted by: rudolf | Aug 23, 2008 3:25:34 PM | 4

great post b...

one take, pov. Peanuts, chips, sangria are set on the bar. Cheers!

Gesturing:

Saak on his own, a complete dundering fool, his wife is loopy also (note), misinterpreted support or signals, etc. and went for it. Sounds fine.

Maybe US-isr-other planned to provoke the Russkies, to create trouble, blame Russia, step up encircling it, squeezing it, biting into its territory, mobilize public opinion, get those little territories in line, etc. Certainly for Europe it was a shock, in public. Heh.

I don’t think so.

I think Saak just scotched long laid plans, took a stick and stirred in the bucket, disturbing US-Isr bases and arms ready to go to attack Iran. Holding one’s position thru domination, control, leads to more of the same, projected outwards.

Repression of media, dissidents imprisoned, etc. has to have some follow up... somewhere something has to give, move forward. Plus, being a subservient minion leads to trying to escape, regain autonomy, implement independent action.

Bluster! Foolish forays!

Saak is not a rose-tinted social democrat but the usual brutish, dispirited, frightened, posturing, compromised, dictator.

The US/west/UN loves to support these when a vaguely palatable candidate pops up. The controllers don’t measure the risks, or understand the position of the chosen figure, the possible consequences; they just have orgasms because they control. Then they are horrified when the worm turns.

Also: Control of the pipeline..Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, that took some hits, actually that is probably the heart of the question, just one link: http://www.nysun.com/foreign/russia-jets-bomb-georgia-oil-pipeline/83547/>link

note. wives have a huge local and national impact in small satellites.

Posted by: Tangerine | Aug 23, 2008 3:46:22 PM | 5

Wonderful stuff; thanks.

I get more news here with one of b's posts than I do with TV in a day.

Posted by: Buckaroo | Aug 23, 2008 4:17:54 PM | 6

My malicious mind tells me that the effect of this Caucasian problem has been to eliminate from our consciousness the possibility that someone in the government had ordered the faking of a letter or something to that effect. I certainly have forgotten details but since I subscribe to the view that the result of an action is its intention I put together the attacks and the oblivion.

Posted by: jlcg | Aug 23, 2008 4:31:54 PM | 7

@ Tangerine,

I am not following you on the pipeline, from your link it says....

Deep craters pockmarked the landscape south of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in a Y-shaped pattern straddling the British-operated pipeline. The attack left two deep holes less than 100 yards either side of a pressure vent on the pipeline. Shrapnel of highly engineered munitions littered the area, but there was no visible damage to the pipeline.

Its vulnerability was summed up by a yellow hazard sign next to the vent warning against digging in the area. Anyone venturing on to the site is warned against smoking.
.....
BP operates the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which transports 1% of the world's oil needs, or one million barrels a day from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean. A spokesman played down the impact of the strike, pointing out that pumping was suspended last week because of a terrorist attack in Turkey. "At the moment the pipeline is not running at any capacity, because there was a fire," the spokesman said.

and for the second time you have hinted at some special role Saakashvili's wife plays in all this. Wiki has nothing remarkable about her, what do you have?

Posted by: dan of steele | Aug 23, 2008 4:35:22 PM | 8

@all - thanks for the laudation - it took some hours to pull that together ...

@b real - thanks for introducing me to inner City Press - it really helped this piece along.

@rgiap - I bolded the last part for you - Sarko in this has been exposed as the puppet he is for whomever allows him two minutes of airtime on TV. I know you already knew that, but it might be helpful to have another case to spread the tale.

@Tangerine - BTC - I thought since recently that BTC was important. A few days ago someone here commented or linked to some place that Turkmenistan was selling out to Russia. I now think BTC might be dead for lack of products committed to go through it. Another big loss for BP and a huge long term win if the Russian Federation managed to get that transport deal.

/---

@all - this is the type of piece that requires weeks of feelers, days of research and hours of writing for little response. Too long, too concentrated, too detailed. Still I love to do those. This catches stuff you can not catch AND PROVE in 10 liners. How can I make such better? how can I find a writing style that fits these. - sorry for the meta here - the content certainly deserves a discussion on its own, but meta too.

Rereading I find the style heavy and tiring. How can I transport the same believability and news in a better readable way?
---

Posted by: b | Aug 23, 2008 4:35:46 PM | 9

adding to 9 - BTC - DoS is right BTC was never bombed or hit in Georgia by the Russians - also: New York Sun is not a news source but a stinking dump ...

Posted by: b | Aug 23, 2008 4:40:33 PM | 10

Bernhard,

what you provide here is a glimpse into the machinery of international politics. It is fascinating and frightening at the same time. Since many, if not all of the really successful leaders, movers, and shakers, are to a certain degree, psychopaths, it is difficult for those who are not psychopaths to fathom the lack of humanity that those leaders are capable of.

therefore, your observations are greeted with stunned silence. it takes a while to digest this information and make it fit with one's own reality. this may be one reason why this site has a relatively small audience, this kind of thinking is not easy as it goes against everything you have been told by people you used to trust.

I for one hope that you keep on describing the actions and habits of the man behind the curtain. we may not be able to do anything about it but at least we can make that man be a little more careful in maintaining the illusion.

Posted by: dan of steele | Aug 23, 2008 4:54:15 PM | 11

Thanks for the research and analysis, b.

As for writing style - not heavy or tiring to me - I find it direct and refreshingly devoid of too many adjectives, adverbs, tired old unquestioned assumptions about political states and actors, free from hyperbolic cliches. I really do appreciate the work you do on these posts.

Even in the space of less than one month it sometimes is hard to recall the specific details of events, timing, statements. And this situation in particular has filled me with this existential forboding and dread for the past couple of weeks, often thinking back to accounts of the summer of 1914.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Aug 23, 2008 5:03:31 PM | 12

Well done b I wondered what the mysterious Sarkozy letter was which some TV (prolly BBC) story referred to as 'proof' that Russia was breaking the agreement but even on they way they put it sounded like just the opposite.
Style I dunno sometimes it's better to do it just as you have that is set out the facts as you find them.
Mainstream media tends to do it by leading off with a couple of pars describing the conclusions they have drawn from the facts, mixing a few metaphors with a few cliches (for example 9 out of 10 hack journos would have put in the phrase "redolent of a French farce" some where in the intro), then setting out the facts which all to frequently don't support the conclusions they drew from them expressed in the intro.
Of course you can still structure your article like that and not go overboard and people may find it easier to read, but that isn't necessarily because it is better than the way you wrote it. They just find it easier merely because it is in a form that they are more used to reading. Habit allows the message to slip down, the medicine leavened with the sugar syrup of familiarity.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 23, 2008 5:03:42 PM | 13

Thanks for this timely, incisive, informative piece. I'd like to see it as an op-ed - where? Wider distribution would certainly be a good thing. I greatly appreciate your research and insight. Thanks b!

Posted by: Hamburger | Aug 23, 2008 5:07:45 PM | 14

b, your English is impressive; it's exact, lucid, and to the point. As for style: I know of very few writers with a gift for writing elegantly (compellingly) in a language other than their mother tongue. The few that I do know, have known, or know of, have been raised in truly bi-lingual families, and have been educated all their lives in both tongues. On top of that, they have to be really gifted and dedicated writers.

Actually, at the moment, I can only think of one writer who really brought it off and had truly interesting things to say--the Belgian-born philsopher Bernard Groethuysen (1880-1946), who wrote equally well in German and French. No one reads him nowadays, but that's our problem, not his.

Posted by: alabama | Aug 23, 2008 5:22:47 PM | 15

b

i do not find it heavy in the least. look, it is part of my work to read, read & read & on this issue i have read a great deal & you present the situation, very clearly & with your intentions clear & without having to hammer it. in its way it is delicate. i think that is partially because of speed & passion

for me, i am not a great fan of rewriting but i am almost forensic about when i write - which maybe 1hr or 7, a week, or a month - what i do is prepare for those moments with all the skill i possess

you are distilling this knowlede on georgia significantly more rapidly than 90% of the other sources

your work requires work & that is exactly how it should be. that is the proper dialectic. we must work. as debs sd it is not for you nor is it your style to give us this information on a platter - it must be fought for through your & our prisms

when i was a maoist - we often spoke of mao's dictum of 'serve the people' but that is what you have done here not only on this issue but on many others & for that i am thankful & give thanks

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23, 2008 6:03:48 PM | 16

#15: not Joseph Conrad?


Regarding the meta discussion, the bolded recap at the end is nice. The journalistic convention which Debs mentioned of leading with a narrative, does help one to 'get into' a longer post like this. But it is problematic; the honest writer may want to question his own narrative, at which point the question is asked "So why did you lead with it?" But at least the narrative needs to be explained, defended after the facts are presented, the part that modern newspapers miss, thinking they can so easily mark off reportage from analysis & opinion.

Posted by: Cloud | Aug 23, 2008 6:11:13 PM | 17

Re meta, I think the rehash was unneccessarryy.

Seems like a useful ploy to keep confusion in the media, which can report actions not in line with a letter, its nonbinding status being little mentioned. This subject needs confusing from Bushco point of view, a bloody play against a fu**ing UN mandated peacekeeping setup by the US for energy security and missile defense (that is, energy security) with a full barrage of BS media coverage from day 1 could blow back without extra servings of caca. They are damn good at what they do, anyone want to work that well on the left? Anyone?

We should be beating these people back with bricks, making them look as fu**ed as they are, but they have bought the stage, the actors and write all the lines. Someone with a voice, step up now.

Posted by: aumana | Aug 23, 2008 6:51:26 PM | 18

On the meta thing:

I think your writing was just fine given the material at hand. You put out a lot of facts in a short span; and that is different reading than some of the other posts you make. The detailed time line causes the material to be more "dense", much as the reading in a science text is more dense than in a Harry Potter book.

But then, I read you and science texts; not the other.

You write well kid.

Posted by: Buckaroo | Aug 23, 2008 6:55:23 PM | 19

killer post b

please check your inbox asap

Posted by: annie | Aug 23, 2008 8:50:05 PM | 20

b 9

i'm editing an international political newsletter, and if it helps, try using Al Jazeera or Haaretz reporting style, just study the ways they flow the articles' structure together. western media US:UKs are plodding propaganda apparatiks with didatic sermonic idolatry. RU:CHs are even more rigid, or maybe they suffer in translation. sometimes the roughs i get to edit from this small non-western rags are just brilliant as you get far, far away from the subject-verb-object dominoe-theory of meme-crushing-mentee.

the other way i've found is to set your alarm for 2AM to wake up after you've started REM sleep and are waking into a dream anyway, then writing becomes incredibly fluid, as long as you've already index-carded your talking points, and keep sipping that schnapps for the inevitable after-headache.

the other way i've found to free up is to read haiku, then practice it diligently: The Technique of Comparison, The Technique of Contrast, The Technique of Association, The Technique of the Sketch or Shiki's Shasei, etcetera.

Wrapping dumplings in
bamboo leaves, with one finger
she tidies her hair

be glad you don't have to write these in your sleep! http://www.business-in-asia.com/asia/procedure_registration.html

Posted by: Cher Azhaka | Aug 24, 2008 12:42:03 AM | 21

Thank you so much for this post. I've been thinking I must have missed some huge portion of news of the ceasefire agreement, since every news service I've been listening to has been saying the Russians are not "in compliance." One NPR report did say something about the Russians "disagreeing" with the Georgian interpretation.

Has the agreement been made public in its entirety?

But the entire coverage of the South Ossetia mess has been like watching a miniaturized and speeded up MCM* coverage (and cheerleading) of the runup to the Iraq Invasion. Cherry picking of information; ignoring things actually reported on in favor of the MCM Narrative (even things reported on their own pages or broadcasts! Just like in the Iraq Invasion runup); and somehow the reports follow the Maladministration's lines and spin. So sad.

And what's with Angela Merkel pushing the BushCo line? Has he threatened her with another sneak shoulder rub?

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 24, 2008 12:43:54 AM | 22

Dan of steele, my guess is that the Russians did target the pipeline, but made sure it wasn't destroyed. This was a message more than anything:

The attack left two deep holes less than 100 yards either side of a pressure vent on the pipeline.
Nothing gained in destroying it at this point in time, but by placing two craters on either side of it means the people who ought to take note have done so.

Three red roses mean I love you, and this skirmish in Georgia, as so many "little" wars, was more about implications than direct outcomes. The message was loud and clear and all intended recipients did get it. Whose da man in this corner on planet earth? Thats right towarisch, mother Russia.

B, I am continually amazed just how many quality posts you produce, at times making bold statements but always able to back them up. In all my years of exploring news and views on the internet I haven't come across another side like your's. You never beat around the bush, straight to the point, with posts containing in 2 paragraphs more information than I could poke a stick at. How you do it? I don't know man, but I sure do appreciate your efforts and time input. I just hope you won't burn out. I'd be lost without ya :)

Posted by: Juan Moment | Aug 24, 2008 1:14:22 AM | 23

Nabokov!
But you're writing neither novels nor poems. "Just the facts, ma'am.", as Joe Friday would say.
Well done!

Posted by: Dick Durata | Aug 24, 2008 2:43:25 AM | 24

Excellent review b,
This is going to be a public relations struggle until Saaak is gone which could be a few years unless the Georgians force him out. And we should start to see a few interesting developments in Georgian local politics once the Georgians realize that Saak and his enablers (US/France) are unable to make any movement.

As for public-relations, Russia will probably soon offer to repair or provide compensation for all personal property damaged in Georgia & South Ossetia during the war. They can easily afford it.

Also, the location of the lookout posts looks like a signal that any new flare-ups will result in a "no-enter" zone for the Georgian military.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 24, 2008 9:12:30 AM | 25

harumph

from AP

POTI, Georgia — A top Russian general said Saturday that Russian forces would maintain their patrols on the outskirts of the strategic port city of Poti.

Even though Poti is outside the agreed buffer zone for the breakaway region of Abkhazia, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russian troops are not leaving. "Poti is not in the security zone, but that doesn't mean that we will sit behind the fence and watch as they drive around in Hummers," Nogovitsyn said.


Posted by: dan of steele | Aug 24, 2008 9:35:04 AM | 26

Excellent! It's nice to have somewhat of a grasp of the facts on the ground, especially when they don't match up to what the blow-dried jerkoffs on teevee are saying. There are very few places in the world like MoA, and I guess I need to say thank you.

As well, I think your english is very good (better than some of my neighbors here in the US) and I wouldn't have known you weren't writing in your native tongue if you hadn't said so. I speak good Spanish (and can curse in Russian), but I sound like a gringo (or an Uzbeki).

Posted by: JimT | Aug 24, 2008 10:05:52 AM | 27

Sarkozy thinks his letter farce is not enough of stupid diplomacy.

He tries to top it with this:

France, Russia at Odds over Content of Leaders’ Phone Talks - CORRECTED

The French and Russian presidents have agreed to replace Russian forces in the so-called “buffer zone” outside South Ossetia with OSCE monitors, the French president’s press office said in a statement. The Kremlin has denied any such deal has been made.

French President Nikola Sarkozy spoke with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Saturday evening, August 23.

After the phone conversation, a statement was posted on the French president’s website, reading: “The two presidents have agreed on the need to set up an international mechanism under the OSCE aegis to replace Russian patrols in the security zone in the south from South Ossetia.”

The Kremlin, however, has denied reaching such an agreement, saying the issue wasn't even discussed.

There was no discussion of the replacement of Russian peacekeeping forces with monitors from the OSCE,” Russian news agencies quoted a statement from the Kremlin. “During the conversation with Nikola Sarkozy, Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed [Russia’s] readiness to cooperate with the OSCE in this zone in accordance with the fifth principle of the [six-point ceasefire accord] developed jointly by the French and Russian presidents.”
...
The Kremlin also said that President Sarkozy “gave a positive assessment to the pull back” of Russian forces “within the timeframe announced by the Russian side.”

The French statement also notes that President Sarkozy “thanked President Medvedev for honoring the commitment concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops.”

Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 10:21:09 AM | 28

And here a bit on how Georgia perceives the 'Sarkozy Letter'.

It very much confirms what I have written above, even though I had seen no press report that had the timeline.

Controversy over Ceasefire Deal Interpretation and ‘Buffer Zones’

Georgia has insisted the Russian troops to carry out “additional security measures” – as envisaged by the six-point ceasefire agreement – only within the 15-km conflict zone around Tskhinvali.

Eka Tkeshelashvili, the Georgian foreign minister, said on August 22, that opening of stationary checkpoints outside the zone would be a violation of the accord.

She was citing the six-point ceasefire agreement – brokered by France on behalf of EU - and a letter of guarantee and clarification sent by the French President Nikola Sarkozy to his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, before the latter signed the accord.

Tkeshelashvili said that the letter was saying it “very clearly” that the Russian troops have the right to carry out only patrolling “few kilometers” away from South Ossetia administrative border. She underlined that the letter did not mention any stationary checkpoints, only patrolling.

This “few kilometers,” she continued, referrers to the 15-km radius around Tskhinvali, the capital of breakaway region.

Neither the six-point accord nor the French President’s letter specifies area within the “few kilometers.” The letter, however, says that neither town of Gori nor key east-west highway can be included in this zone.

Russia, however, has already stated that “the zone of Russian peacekeepers’ responsibility” would be much wider than only just 15-km radius around Tskhinvali. Russia also claims to be acting in frames of the six-point accord.


"letter of guarantee and clarification" - what guarantees?

Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 10:27:21 AM | 29


#29 link 'About Civil.Ge' (daily news online)..

Civil Georgia is a daily news online service devoted to delivering quality news and analysis about Georgia. Civil.Ge is run by The UN Association of Georgia, a Georgian non-governmental organization, in frames of ‘National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia’ Program financed by USAID.


b, another inbox asap request.

Posted by: annie | Aug 24, 2008 11:29:21 AM | 30

The hysterical demands by the west and its media to have the Russians return to pre Tshinvali positions aims to protect Saakashvili from the inevitable political reckoning. Georgian disenchantment with the Lion of the Caucasus has been muted in the west media apparat in not totally disappeared.

The demand is absurd, since it means that Georgian war crimes in Tshinvali will not bear a cost. The Russians will not oblige, either politically or militarily, and rightly so. They have made it plain that the west will also bear a cost, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, were Nato to go beyond the usual apparat assisted fulmination.

b, way to nail the specifics to the wall.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 24, 2008 11:31:26 AM | 31

@annie - @30 - yes I know who finances civil.ge.

But they are not pure propaganda which you can tell from 28 and 29 - they note explicitly that the other (not Saak) side's view has merit.

Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 1:10:10 PM | 32

clover,FT's man in moscow plus 2 other reporters in US and georgia Russia claims it has met pull-out terms 8/22.

But statements by Russian officials have exposed a big difference of interpretation over exactly what Moscow has agreed to do and where its troops should be withdrawing to.

This was seemingly specified – but not very clearly – in a six-point ceasefire deal this month.

The central point of disagreement focuses on the agreement’s stipulation that Russian forces carry out “additional security measures” ahead of an “international mechanism” to resolve the dispute.

While the US says such measures allow Russia to do no more than mount patrols in a limited area of undisputed Georgian territory, Moscow’s interpretation is much more extensive.

A supplemental text seen by the FT says that the additional “measures may be implemented in a zone a few kilometres deep . . . such that no major urban centre is included in the zone”.

Russia insists the agreement, along with previous international deals governing forces in the region, allows it to maintain troops within a big buffer zone and occupy permanent checkpoints deep into central and western Georgia.

In contrast with Russia and the US, some European diplomats argue that the interim arrangements and past agreements permit Russia to maintain a very limited buffer zone.

a more concisely spun hit job for a driveby reading by the same FT/clover & team US accuses Moscow of breaching pact"

The US on Friday night demanded that Russia comply with an agreement to withdraw its forces from Georgia as it rejected Moscow's assertion that it had fulfilled all its obligations under a French-brokered ceasefire accord.

"The withdrawal of Russian forces has gone without incident and was concluded according to plan at 19:50 Moscow time," said Anatoly Serdiukov, Russian defence minister. Russia appeared, however, to remain in control of large swathes of the centre and west of the country.

Russian troops were seen withdrawing from the central town of Gori on Friday, and removed the last concrete barrier blocking access on the strategic highway that connects eastern and western Georgia. But simultaneously they were digging fortifications about 7km up the road in Karaleti, which is one of the towns Russia has claimed as part of a huge buffer zone.

Posted by: annie | Aug 24, 2008 1:31:30 PM | 33

I would remind Prof. Rogers that the Bush Administration has justified its pre and post-9/11 thuggery as based on "GLOBALISM." And so, I might point out, on a round globe, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. Israel, which dominates the Georgian government with three Israeli passport holders in the Georgian President's Ministerial Cabinet, quickly realized how its influence might backfire and it withdrew it weapons and advisers immediately upon collapse of Georgian forces. The US was not so quick and I am told 6 American casualties resulted. Thuggery in a global setting invites and justifies thuggery. Bush should have learned that from his meetings with Putin. However, being chemically impaired for so long and offered advice only by his mediocre loyal "girl Friday" SecState, he suffers from a one point in time and space mind set...sort of like a Great White shark spotting a kill. The biggest tragedy is that, we now know, McCain's top advisers, registered foreign agents for Georgia, thought that encouraging Saakishvilli to act now would draw national attention away from McCain's cognitive deficiencies and to his dramatic : "we are all Georgians now" mis-stated nationalism babble-- like his POW account plagiarized from novels. The Georgians were well aware of how, when in March 2006 PM Olmert came to beg for an extra $10 billions to shore up Israel's failing economy, in return Bush demanded that Israel attack Lebanon-->Syria-->Iran, knowing full well that Israel would be deep in poop by the time it got to Iran. Then, to stave off "an Ally's defeat," Bush would make an emergency executive order to attack Iran. Though the Israeli Air Force failed to clear the way for IDF land forces (killing far more innocent civilians than Hezbollah militants) and Olmert was mensch enough to pull out and stop the hopeless killing of young Israeli men for Bush, Saakashvilli this time had the illusion that if he moved on South Ossetia with a murderous made in USA and Israel firepower assault, the US, hence NATO, would have no choice but to come in and save him before Russia retaliated. Since McCain's foreign policy advisers are nothing but neocon influence peddling arms profiteers and have no strategic understanding, they only saw this as a great chance to force the nation on the message dummy McCain was mouthing from the throat of his neocon mender ventriloquist Senator Lieberman.

All this sums up to the obvious: you can't treat the planet as a presidential campaign gimmick, even when you have a fool as a client. Events catch up with you. Now the Republican global-pay-to-play team is in damage control. But, once again, thanks to the the Republican-Right that Richard Frank so well describes in his book as the "Wrecking Crew," America is hobbled into a defeat. A defeat that is as "victory bound" as our surge in Iraq that got the Iraqis to unite on one point: GET THE US TROOPS THE HELL OUT. And all this is with: (1) NO oil deal with US but with China, (2) NO territorial deal, (3) NO Iran out of Iraq, (4) NO independence of American Command tactical decisions, (5) NO immunity for casualties from and crimes by US citizens and forces in Iraq. Meanwhile Kharzai, the Afghan President, has been damning the American blind use of air power in his country and here too we may have the SOFA pulled out from under us as in Iraq!

I guess Bush may escape prosecution by Murkese, his own ultra-Zionist Attorney General that stands with the neocons. But the Muse of History Cleo is one prosecutor Bush will never escape: even if not written on his tombstone, he will forever be remembered as the president who sought to cover incompetence with criminality. Yet, the fault is ours, the boomer generation suffering from the "ain't my kid going to Iraq [or anywhere else where there's combat] disconnect syndrome," that out of fear and in utter bravado sought to cover-up our panic by putting a cheerleader of dubious manhood as captain of the football team.

Posted by: | Aug 24, 2008 1:51:02 PM | 34

I would remind Prof. Rogers that the Bush Administration has justified its pre and post-9/11 thuggery as based on "GLOBALISM." And so, I might point out, on a round globe, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. Israel, which dominates the Georgian government with three Israeli passport holders in the Georgian President's Ministerial Cabinet, quickly realized how its influence might backfire and it withdrew it weapons and advisers immediately upon collapse of Georgian forces. The US was not so quick and I am told 6 American casualties resulted. Thuggery in a global setting invites and justifies thuggery. Bush should have learned that from his meetings with Putin. However, being chemically impaired for so long and offered advice only by his mediocre loyal "girl Friday" SecState, he suffers from a one point in time and space mind set...sort of like a Great White shark spotting a kill. The biggest tragedy is that, we now know, McCain's top advisers, registered foreign agents for Georgia, thought that encouraging Saakishvilli to act now would draw national attention away from McCain's cognitive deficiencies and to his dramatic : "we are all Georgians now" mis-stated nationalism babble-- like his POW account plagiarized from novels. The Georgians were well aware of how, when in March 2006 PM Olmert came to beg for an extra $10 billions to shore up Israel's failing economy, in return Bush demanded that Israel attack Lebanon-->Syria-->Iran, knowing full well that Israel would be deep in poop by the time it got to Iran. Then, to stave off "an Ally's defeat," Bush would make an emergency executive order to attack Iran. Though the Israeli Air Force failed to clear the way for IDF land forces (killing far more innocent civilians than Hezbollah militants) and Olmert was mensch enough to pull out and stop the hopeless killing of young Israeli men for Bush, Saakashvilli this time had the illusion that if he moved on South Ossetia with a murderous made in USA and Israel firepower assault, the US, hence NATO, would have no choice but to come in and save him before Russia retaliated. Since McCain's foreign policy advisers are nothing but neocon influence peddling arms profiteers and have no strategic understanding, they only saw this as a great chance to force the nation on the message dummy McCain was mouthing from the throat of his neocon mender ventriloquist Senator Lieberman.

All this sums up to the obvious: you can't treat the planet as a presidential campaign gimmick, even when you have a fool as a client. Events catch up with you. Now the Republican global-pay-to-play team is in damage control. But, once again, thanks to the the Republican-Right that Richard Frank so well describes in his book as the "Wrecking Crew," America is hobbled into a defeat. A defeat that is as "victory bound" as our surge in Iraq that got the Iraqis to unite on one point: GET THE US TROOPS THE HELL OUT. And all this is with: (1) NO oil deal with US but with China, (2) NO territorial deal, (3) NO Iran out of Iraq, (4) NO independence of American Command tactical decisions, (5) NO immunity for casualties from and crimes by US citizens and forces in Iraq. Meanwhile Kharzai, the Afghan President, has been damning the American blind use of air power in his country and here too we may have the SOFA pulled out from under us as in Iraq!

I guess Bush may escape prosecution by Murkese, his own ultra-Zionist Attorney General that stands with the neocons. But the Muse of History Cleo is one prosecutor Bush will never escape: even if not written on his tombstone, he will forever be remembered as the president who sought to cover incompetence with criminality. Yet, the fault is ours, the boomer generation suffering from the "ain't my kid going to Iraq [or anywhere else where there's combat] disconnect syndrome," that out of fear and in utter bravado sought to cover-up our panic by putting a cheerleader of dubious manhood as captain of the football team.

Posted by: DE Teodoru | Aug 24, 2008 1:51:19 PM | 35

BY error, I posted here a response to an Oxford Institute British scholar on the GLOBAL "when it rains in pours" perspective of the Bush Administration since Georgia. While I beg forgiveness for the error, on retrospect, I'm glad it's there. For it shows how an all-political unipolar moment leader can be an utter fool and then, being amoral by nature and an indecisive coward, will screw all committments, responsibilities and obligations commensurate with a globalist avowed power burden. Please not the historic finale the Georgia incident gives to this Administration and the warning it goves us about the nompetus dementus Republican presidential candidate: "WE ARE ALL GEORGIANS NOW."

THIS CANNOT STAND...we must clean out all the Bush-it from Wash. DC before it is too late. So please forgive the seeming SPAM, it was in error....Yet, if the shoe fits....

Posted by: DE Teodoru | Aug 24, 2008 1:58:13 PM | 36

The Russians aren't going to withdraw until a non aggression pact, guaranteed, and the final separation of the two regions from Georgia is complete. They are going to negotiate from a position of strength, deep from Georgian territory. The west wants to return to the status quo, but that is impossible after the war crime of Tshinvali.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 24, 2008 2:00:40 PM | 37

It looks more and more like the begining of the first world war!!!

Posted by: Pavel Chinezul | Aug 24, 2008 2:02:07 PM | 38

It looks more and more like the begining of the first world war!!!

Far from it ... for now ...

Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 2:22:09 PM | 39

yes, pavel, in certain ways, yes

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 2:24:39 PM | 40

yes I know who finances civil.ge.

i had never heard of them. my interpretation of #29
implies the issue is a matter of interpretation of the agreement, which it is not.

Georgia has insisted the Russian troops to carry out “additional security measures” – as envisaged by the six-point ceasefire agreement.... (big clip containing entire article.... Russia also claims to be acting in frames of the six-point accord.

please correct me because i do find this all a little confusing but for the article to be accurate wouldn't it have need to read

"She was citing a letter of clarification sent by the French President Nikola Sarkozy to his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, before the latter signed the accord but after he and russia had both agreed on the conditions of the six-point ceasefire agreement."

unless i am mistaken what seems clear is that Sarkozy, Saakashvili, and russia were all in agreement before rice showed up on the scene. the article says

She was citing the six-point ceasefire agreement – brokered by France on behalf of EU - and a letter of guarantee and clarification sent by the French President Nikola Sarkozy to his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, before the latter signed the accord.

was she siting the agreement, or the changes (letter) to the agreement?

also, in the opening paragraph as envisaged by the six-point ceasefire agreement, this is just plain old weird. do agreements envisage? or did the letter state what the agreement did not envisage, but they wanted it to. if the agreement had in fact envisaged what they claim.. they would never have had to amend it w/a letter.

they wanted a ceasefire, they got one, now they want to change the terms. don't they?

by explaining just a little more, as the article does, but not quite enough for the reader to comprehend the full picture (which is not that difficult to comprehend unless i am way over simplifying), and end the article w/ the idea "Russia also claims to be acting in frames of the six-point accord", is in my mind deceptive. because Russia is acting in frames of the six-point accord. is it not? it is just not acting in frames of the letter of envisage.


Posted by: annie | Aug 24, 2008 2:31:52 PM | 41

if i understand well the inference of pavel - is the role that chaos plays here. i would argue that in this instance russia possesses both intention & the means, that the us has the intentions but not the means, that europe possesses neither the intention nor the means & within all that chaos can create contingencies you don't expect

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 2:34:00 PM | 42

annie

churkov at the u n makes it quite clear in the video at the end of b's post what he thinks of the letter & its terms of reference

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 2:38:32 PM | 43

for me to get real player they want my credit card info which i don't give out over the computer. i wish i could watch it tho.

Posted by: annie | Aug 24, 2008 3:23:51 PM | 44

can you describe it for me?? what is his demeanor..

Posted by: annie | Aug 24, 2008 3:24:17 PM | 45

annie

he seemed a very calm man, indeed. not argumentative. it was clear as b suggests that he knows that russis ia jurisprudentially correct. & that the letter has no value. he would respect it but there is the six point plan. it seems that the russians use real diplomats who are very skilled

the us in the un is represented by that madman khalizad who was right there at the beginning with wolfowitz & the new american century - neocon to his bootstraps & like his predecesspr bolton he only brings hysteria to the council

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 4:05:06 PM | 46

As an american russian and beeing born again christian, i was heavily involved in politics, because of social politic issues. After september 11, those supposidly christians on the top took position as a protector of America and i was supportive. Then Iraq war made me a little suspicious, because of scrued logic of justifiability of that war. I still stood on neocons ground though. I was for Huckabee and i liked Ron Paul in primaries, and when neocons shut them up and bohoed them, i started to be agitated toward this neoconian hocus pocus stuff. Then this...with Georgia-Russia situation made me not only against neocons, but i found my self duped and trumped under their bully's feet. I would never believe before if someone would say me, that FOXy noise,supposadly fair and ballansed , and moral clown Glenn Pig could lie through their teeth all week long. I was stunt and shocked. How can i believe a single word after that mishandeling of journalistic objectivity. I regret that i was supportive to their propaganda. Eventhough i, as a radical christian have lots of issues with democrats, nonetheless i completly reject neoconian radio and TV as sespool of lies and agitation of american people. It's shame to cover the genocide of 2100 innosents by brinning up old memories of early stage of communism era, pointing to Russia as a real villain. Let God sees and asks from false witneses and killers. God bless America and Russia. I beg all americans to refuse to hate nobel russian people and take position of honesty,integrity and respect of other nations affairs and borders.

Posted by: Sergey | Aug 25, 2008 2:45:30 AM | 47

he seemed a very calm man, indeed. not argumentative. ..... it seems that the russians use real diplomats who are very skilled

thanks r'giap

i started to be agitated toward this neoconian hocus pocus stuff.

yes, once you see them for who they are it is quite an eye opener.

I beg all americans to refuse to hate nobel russian people and take position of honesty,integrity and respect of other nations affairs and borders.

me too.

Posted by: annie | Aug 25, 2008 7:33:56 AM | 48

a href="http://www.innercitypress.com/undp1georgia082508.html">UN's Engagement with Saakashvili Included $1500 a Month, Soros and Sweden Also Paid

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was paid $1500 a month by the UN Development Program earlier this decade, on top of his official presidential salary, UNDP has told Inner City Press. UNDP says the goals of these payments, in which the Swedish government and financier George Soros joined, were to allow the Georgian "government to recruit the staff it needed and also to help remove incentives for corruption."

While receiving these $1500 monthly payment, Saakashvili committed to increase tax collection in Georgia. Deals were signed with , among others, British Petroleum, for the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan oil pipeline. UNDP, and presumably its two co-funders, applauded this development.
...

Posted by: b | Aug 26, 2008 1:45:41 AM | 49

Russia recognises Georgia rebel regions despite warnings

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, defying pressure from the West, announced on Tuesday that Moscow had decided to recognise two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states.

"I have signed decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of the independence of South Ossetia and the independence of Abkhazia," Medvedev said in a televised statement.

The decision sets Russia on a collision course with the West, which has strongly urged Moscow not to recognise the two regions and to support Georgia's territorial integrity.

Posted by: b | Aug 26, 2008 9:23:47 AM | 50

Interesting piece and very credible. I've reposted it as I consider it useful background to the machinations of the Empire.

Bill

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 26, 2008 11:57:24 AM | 51

Congratulations for this fantastic job.
Such an essential work has to be known so I did made a French translation of your article. Is it possible to publish it on my blog ?

Posted by: Bertrand | Sep 12, 2008 11:05:49 AM | 52

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