What boy wouldn’t want to pick up that saber and defend his country against the Muscovites? I wish they had captioned the motto on the sword. I would like to have translated it.
Gulf News (Bahrain), in English, passed along a report from its sister Arabic paper, describing a US/Israeli military build-up in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israel is massing warplanes in the Caucasus for an attack on Iran, it was revealed yesterday.
Preparations are underway to launch the military attack from Azerbaijan and Georgia, reports our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej, quoting military sources.
Israel was, in fact, training pilots in Turkey to launch the strike and was smuggling planes into Georgia using Turkish airspace, they said.
However, Turkey was unaware of Israel’s intention of transferring the planes to Georgia, the sources said.
The unexpected crisis between Israel and Turkey following an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza Strip hit Israeli calculations.
Azerbaijan-based intelligence units, working under the cover of technicians, trainers and consultants, have helped with the preparations, the sources said.
Military equipment, mostly supplied by the US, was transported to a Georgian port via the Black Sea.
Georgian coastguard and Israeli controllers are co-operating to hide the operations from Russian vessels, said the sources.
They point out that according to Israel, it will not be in a position to launch a strike on Iran without using bases in Georgia and Azerbaijan due to the limited capabilities of its nuclear submarines stationed near the Iranian coast.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Press TV reported that a very large contingent of US ground forces had massed in Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border. The independent Azerbaijani news website Trend confirmed the report.
Those reports came just days after the Pentagon confirmed that an unusually large fleet of US warships had indeed passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal en route to the Gulf. At least one Israeli warship reportedly joined the American armada.
DEBKAfile has similar reports going back to a week before today:
Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, DEBKAfile’s military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. ...
Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.
DEBKAfile also notes that the US has stationed a third carrier group in the vicinity of Iran.
Debkafile’s military sources report that Washington has posted a third carrier opposite Iran’s shores. It is supported by amphibious assault ships and up to 4,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, bringing the total US strength in these waters to three carriers and 10,000 combat personnel.
And also notes in its paid-subscription version that Hillary Clinton will soon be making whirlwind visits to Azerbaijan, Georgia an Armenia.
It is very difficult to picture the Obama Administration reaching an internal consensus allowing it to initiate a preemptive military strike on another country. If Barack Hussein astonishingly ate his Wheaties one morning and suddenly experienced an attack of testosterone, any attempted serious US action would almost certainly be preceded by tearful resignations, leaks to the Washington Post and New York Times, and aggrieved editorials on FireDogLake. But… life is strange, human nature is unpredictable, one never really knows.
More likely, all this represents a calculated bluff intended to force Iran to resume negotiations.
Ha’aretz quotes Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as telling reporters on Saturday that “the members of the G-8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively.”
Former captive nations feel a certain solidarity. The Republic of Georgia has responded to the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash by declaring him a Georgian National Hero and their vocal ensemble Lashari performed in his honor a traditional folk song customarily sung to honor Georgians killed in war.
Spook 86 explains, on the basis of a Russian defense analysis described in Aviation Week, how Russian air losses in the brief war with Georgia last summer were twice as bad as were reported, and Russian air defense systems were responsible.
In its latest assessment, (Russia’s Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology) CAST confirms that Russian forces lost eight aircraft to adversary air defenses and fratricide. The four additional aircraft—which the Russian Air Force has reported as combat losses—include the following:
—SU-24MR Fencer E reconnaissance aircraft, shot down on 8 August—SU-25 Frogfoot CAS aircraft, lost on 9 August—SU-24M Fencer frontal strike aircraft, downed on 10 or 11 August—Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship (loss date undetermined)
CAST also reports that Georgian air defenses damaged at least three other SU-25s, which managed to return to base.
Officially, Moscow has claimed that it lost only four aircraft during the Georgian campaign, a TU-22M Backfire bomber and three SU-25s, all shot down on the first day of the war (8 August). Russian Air Force officials say the four jets were downed by Georgian SA-11 SAM batteries.
As for those “other” losses, CAST claims the Fencers fell victim to shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles while the SU-25 was downed by friendly fire—specifically, a MANPAD SAM launched by a Russian ground unit.
The think tank also repeats its assessment that Russian Air Force units were unprepared for operations against a relatively modern air defense system. We second that notion, and believe it’s worth repeating a related point, which we made last August. Moscow’s lack of preparation is largely inexcusable, since it already knew that Tiblisi had purchased the SA-11 (and other air defense systems) from Ukraine. The embarrassment is compounded by the fact that the systems which knocked down those Russian aircraft were originally designed—and built—in Russia (emphasis ours). ...
For 50 years, Russian scientists and engineers have produced some of the world’s most lethal air defense systems. But Moscow never believed its pilots would have to fly against Russian-built SAMs. That’s one reason the Russian Air Force learned a hard lesson in Georgia last summer.
Chinese news service photo of USS McFaul delivering humanitarian supplies at Batumi
EarthTimes quotes an Interfax News Agency Russian press release indicating that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is “shifting positions” to the rear.
Elements of Russia’s Black Sea fleet shifted locations on Wednesday in an possible move to avoid a confrontation with a growing NATO warship flotilla near Georgia. Russian naval vessels operating off of Georgia’s coastline had moved from a station in the vicinity of the Georgian port Poti into “Abkhazian territorial waters,” said Sergei Menialo, commander of Russia’s Novorossisk naval base, according to an Interfax news agency report.
The shift took a group of some six to eight Russian warships that had been patrolling near the Georgian port of Poti out of the path of US warships reportedly planning to make a humanitarian aid delivery to the same location. ...
NATO led by the US began a dramatic increase to its naval presence in the Black Sea in mid-August, after Russian refusal to abide by a Russo-Georgian ceasefire plan engineered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The NATO flotilla led by the American destroyer USS McFaul already has exceeded ten warships and will reach eighteen vessels in coming days, Kremlin officials citing Russian intelligence said Tuesday.
German, Polish, Spanish, and Canadian warships are among the members of the multi-national squadron being assembled in the Black Sea, according to Georgian media reports.
Russian admiral Sergei Kasatonov admitted the growing NATO naval formation would soon be stronger than the Russian Black Sea warships off Georgia and Abkhazia’s shore, but added the Kremlin could in case of a confrontation deal with the western vessels “using other forms of combat power, including aviation assets.”
Years ago, when I was working on military simulations games, a historical discussion got going within the development group, a gang of hard-core military history buffs, about the threat to US and Nato forces posed by a much-reported Soviet Naval build-up.
“When was the last time Russia won a major naval engagement?” sardonically asked one of the senior designers.
Despite the vast store of expertise on matters of this kind readily at hand, puzzlement ensued.
One authority suggest the Battle of Navarino in 1827 during the Greek War of Independence. But the example was rejected because Russia had merely participated in a combined operation with France and Britain, under British command.
Finally, smiling, one of the most knowledgeable people present, suggested John Paul Jones’ 1788 victory over the Turks in the Liman arm of the Black Sea. “But, they won’t have Jones in command today, will they?” he concluded, reducing the crowd of analysts and prognosticators to gales of derisive laughter at the idea of what would happen to the Russian Navy if it tried taking on a naval service like our own, one with a firm and unbroken tradition of victory.
To the victor go the spoils. Stefan Korshak, at Monsters and Critics, reports on happy Russians collecting souvenirs and useful US-supplied gear in Georgia.
You’ll be seeing the stuff on Ebay very shortly.
The troopers of Russia’s 58th Army, fresh from chasing their US-trained Georgian opponents out of South Ossetia, are just in love with their NATO-issue loot.
‘Check out this war trophy,’ a T-62 tank commander named Viktor proudly pointed out to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa reporter. ‘A real NATO-standard bayonet!’
Russia’s soldiers currently occupying the Gori district of northern Georgia – abandoned by the Georgian army without a shot – are festooned with personal military kit previously owned by their enemy Georgia, whose government is intent on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Some soldiers, like Viktor, chose to obtain just a souvenir. One of the most popular formerly Georgian military items now in Russian hands is a spiffy black-handled knife.
Viktor’s mates said the weapon, sometimes issued in a snappy leg holster, is suitable for locking onto a US M-16 automatic rifle sold to Georgia, and holds a great edge.
‘There were piles of them in the depot over there,’ said a sergeant name Oleg, pointing with his thumb to a plume of smoke rising from behind a hill. ‘The Georgians just ran, they didn’t even take their (expletive deleted) stuff with them.’ ...according to other troopers interviewed the Georgian army base at Gori became sort of a free military accoutrements shopping mart for discerning Russian soldiers interested in the latest in combat style.
Russian soldiers guarding access routes to Gori, on Thursday, were proudly wearing a remarkably wide selection of ‘personal items’ more commonly seen on soldiers wearing US or other NATO uniforms.
Highly popular among the Russians was US-issue ‘web gear,’ a torso harness used for hanging useful things like bandage packets, ropes, ammunition pouches stamped with ‘US,’ olive drab flashlights, and canteens.
One Russian soldier riding in a BMP armored personnel carrier had grabbed US-issue web gear with an mobile phone intact, left there by its former Georgian owner.
A BMP gunner describing himself as an ‘average Siberian guy’ had hung his newly-acquired web gear on his vehicle’s turret door, just like veteran US soldiers in US-made turrets in Afghanistan or Iraq. ...
Some of the gear made its new Russian owner an undeniably more survivable soldier: Kevlar vests and helmets, flares, and medical kits – all lighter, easier to use, and harder to break than the Russian counterpart – were among the booty now being worn.
As a general rule, the 58th Army’s non-commissioned officers – veterans of Chechnya with at least a couple of years of service and sometimes more – got first pick. Privates mostly wore standard Russian army issue, as did officers.
‘It’s something to take home, to show your friends, to remember your service days when you get old,’ a corporal said. ‘It shows we were victorious.’
He just grazes her arm, and though Tamara Urushadze takes cover, she bravely keeps reporting.
This video got my blood flowing. I was soon wishing that there was an American nearby with a scope-equipped ‘06 in the neighborhood able to reply. But then I wondered: how good was that Russian? He only fired once, and just grazed her arm. Why didn’t he fire again? There seemed to be time for a follow-up shot. Possibly, I thought, he actually fired to graze her deliberately, in a somewhat-heavy-handed gesture of Muscovite chivalry, warning her to get lost. Then, he allowed her to get way. It’s hard to be sure about that theory, though.
Hat tip to Gateway Pundit.
I don’t agree with Green with a Gun’s PC envirnmentalist cant about the people of Great Powers being able “to have more than their fair share of world resources.” Shares of world resources are actually not conventionally exchanged at gun point. Sorry, Marx. We buy them.
Some countries have politically systems providing security of property and the rule of law, and cultural traditions favoring education and hard work. Those countries are consequently more productive, and consequently wealthier, and can afford to buy more of everything than people living in countries where blood feuds and brigandage enjoy greater status than investment banking.
Russia, Lord knows, has more than her fair share of natural resources, but Russia has not been notoriously successful historically in doing anything with them.
Today, Russia would like to use its ability to supply oil and natural gas as a weapon to restore its ability to wield power.
As Green with a Gun aptly puts it:
The Russia energy company Gazprom supplies something like three-quarters of Eastern Europe’s natural gas, and overall about a quarter of the EU’s natural gas. If the EU pisses off Russia, Europeans face a cold winter. Russia has already shown itself ready to turn off the tap, as it did with the Ukraine and Belarus.
You can see, then, that the US and EU are rather keen not to have to rely on Russian goodwill to keep the oil flowing out of Central Asia. If they rely on Russia for oil or for natural gas, then if Russia switches one off it hurts a lot but they can change to the other, but if Russia controls both, they’re stuck. Russia has them not merely by the balls but also the throat. Russia can then dictate not only prices, but to some degree foreign policy. “Yes, dear EU, you can support airstrikes on our friends in Iran, but you will gain a new appreciation of your white Christmas, as you’re walking out in the cold past your unfuelled cars.”
The practical alternative is the BTC Pipeline delivering oil from the Central Asian Republics via Azerbijan and Georgia to Turkey and thence to Europe.
And that’s what Russia’s invasion of Georgia is all about.
There are many ethnic and historical issues behind the Georgia-Russia conflict. The Ossetians feel a kinship with Russia more than with Georgia, Georgia was set for NATO membership next year, putting a NATO country directly on Russia’s border, and Russia has long held sway over the entire Caucasus. And since the West went to war with a Russian ally in Serbia to secure the independence and self-determination of the Kosovar Albanians, they can hardly complain if Russia goes to war with Georgia to secure the same for the Ossetians. But really that is not important: for the world and for Russia it all comes down to energy, to controlling the flow of it. Russia has chosen an effective means of controlling the flow of oil from the Central Asian republics.
Russia has accomplished a strategic coup de main. The aim of most warfare is to present your enemy with a dilemma. For example, achieve air superiority against his land forces, and his forces can either sit still in bunkers and be encircled by your troops, or move and be bombed – either way they’re screwed, it’s a dilemma. Russia has presented the West with a dilemma – do nothing to help Georgia and lose BTC, or go to war against Russia and in the course of the conflict lose BTC.
That little Obama endorsement video was a comedy satire, but this moonbat is completely in earnest.
Blake Fleetwood, at Huffington Post, thinks Dick Cheney and Karl Rove persuaded Georgia to provoke war with Russia to help John McCain win the US presidential election.
He just needs to get some of his ultra-left blogger friends to repeat this nonsense a few times, and my college classmates will become believers. The same process worked with “Bush went to war with Iraq to avenge the assassination attempt on his father” story and the ever-popular “We invaded Iraq to steal the oil” theory.
Anne Applebaum caught a totalitarian news double-header on television last night.
The rise of China to the status of a major economic power and relative prosperity creates opportunities its regime is only too likely to misuse. Meanwhile, Russia was delivering a lesson on how to misuse power.
For the best possible illustration of why Islamic terrorism may one day be considered the least of our problems, look no farther than the BBC’s split-screen coverage of yesterday’s Olympic opening ceremonies. On one side, fireworks sparkled, and thousands of exotically dressed Chinese dancers bent their bodies into the shape of doves, the cosmos and more. On the other side, gray Russian tanks were shown rolling into South Ossetia, a rebel province of Georgia. The effect was striking: Two of the world’s rising powers were strutting their stuff.
The difference, of course, is that one event has been rehearsed for years, while the other, if not a total surprise, was not actually scheduled to take place this week. That, too, is significant: The Chinese challenge to Western power has been a long time coming, and it is in a certain sense predictable. As a rule, the Chinese do not make sudden moves and do not try to provoke crises.
Russia, by contrast, is an unpredictable power, which makes responding to Moscow more difficult. In fact, Russian politics have become so utterly opaque that it is not easy to say why this particular “frozen” conflict has escalated right now. ...Previous tensions, both in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the other piece of Georgia that has declared sovereignty, have somehow been resolved without a war. Someone, clearly, wanted this one to go further.
Both sides have deeper motives for fighting. The Russians want to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, as Georgia, a Western-oriented democracy—George Bush has called the country a ” beacon of liberty”—has long wanted to do. In this, they will almost certainly succeed: No Western power has any interest in a military ally that is involved in a major military conflict with Russia.
The Georgian leadership, by contrast, had come to believe that the constant pressure of Russian aggression, coupled with the West’s failure to accept Georgia into NATO, compelled them to demonstrate “self-reliance.” President Mikheil Saakashvili has indeed been buying weapons in preparation for this moment. Those who know him say he believed a military conflict was inevitable but could be won if conducted cleverly. As of last night, with Russian soldiers fighting in South Ossetia—only a few dozen miles from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital—it seemed as though he might have miscalculated, badly. Russia has not sent 150 tanks across that border in order to lose.
Svante Cornell believes Russian behavior is all about Georgia’s potential NATO membership.