A Blast in the Oblast
by Steve Payne
says: what if the South Ossetia War of 2008 had escalated into a great
power confrontation? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do
not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
On August 8th 2008,
Please click the
icon to follow us on Squidoo.on this day President Dick Cheney
ordered a surgical strike on a tunnel connecting Russia with the breakaway
Georgian region of South Ossetia which at the time was
full of Russian soldiers and military hardware.
Until 1989, South Ossetia was a disputed region and partly recognized
state in the South Caucasus, an Autonomous Oblast within the former
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. With the collapse of the Soviet Union,
South Ossetians declared independence from Georgia, proclaiming the
creation of a "Republic of South Ossetia". The Georgian government
responded by abolishing South Ossetia's autonomy and retaking the region
by force. Georgian fighting against those controlling South Ossetia would
occur on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008.
After the second attempt at independence in 2004, peacekeepers from both
Russia and George were present in the region, a dangerous deployment which
sowed the seeds for a wider conflict. And so inevitably for their third
(and final) attempt at independence, the South Ossetians decided to go for
broke, by throwing in their lot with the resurgent Russian Federation.
Problem was that whilst Russia slept, Georgia had joined NATO.
The conduct of the war would no longer be decided by South Ossetians and
Georgians, nor by George W. Bush who had been assassinated in 2006.
Instead the South Ossetia Conflict would become a periphery war, a flash
point in the wider struggle to enlarge NATO eastwards. Because an oil
revenue windfall had enabled the Russian Federation the luxury of
rediscovering its chauvinism, and by 2008, NATO expansion was a threat to
global security. A clash of authority was approaching and the Kremlin was
already threatening to close US Bases that had been established in the
Caucus region during the Gulf War. In short, the situation could be
compared to a matchbox waiting for a spark.
And the spark came soon enough. Following a summer of escalating tension,
on the 6th August, Georgian forces re-invaded the territory and Russian
troops mobilized in support of the South Ossetian separatist forces. A
pre-emptive, retaliatory strike was widely expected. In fact, a direct
military response from Washington had been all but inevitable since the US
suspended the NATO-Russia Council, the primary forums for bilateral
interaction on security issues.
says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
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Steve Payne, Editor of
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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
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