Posted by: Dark Defender | November 7, 2008

OSCE raises quesitons about Georgian account of war start

IHT has an articleabout what OSCE observers report from the lead up to the war between Georgia and Russia.

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia has characterized the attack as a precise and defensive act. But according to observations of the monitors, documented Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, Georgian artillery rounds and rockets were falling throughout the city at intervals of 15 to 20 seconds between explosions, and within the first hour of the bombardment at least 48 rounds landed in a civilian area. The monitors have also said they were unable to verify that ethnic Georgian villages were under heavy bombardment that evening, calling to question one of Saakashvili’s main justifications for the attack.

Those claims have not been independently verified, and Georgia’s account was disputed by Ryan Grist, a former British Army captain who was the senior OSCE representative in Georgia when the war broke out. Grist said that he was in constant contact that night with all sides, with the office in Tskhinvali and with Wing Commander Stephen Young, the retired British military officer who leads the monitoring team.

“It was clear to me that the attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation,” Grist said. “The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town.”

Grist has served as a military officer or diplomat in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kosovo and Yugoslavia. In August, after the Georgian foreign minister, Eka Tkeshelashvili, who has no military experience, assured diplomats in Tbilisi that the attack was measured and discriminate, Grist gave a briefing to diplomats from the European Union that drew from the monitors’ observations and included his assessments. He then soon resigned under unclear circumstances.

A second briefing was led by Young in October for military attachés visiting Georgia. At the meeting, according to a person in attendance, Young stood by the monitors’ assessment that Georgian villages had not been extensively shelled on the evening or night of Aug. 7. “If there had been heavy shelling in areas that Georgia claimed were shelled, then our people would have heard it, and they didn’t,” Young said, according to the person who attended. “They heard only occasional small-arms fire.”

With a paucity of reliable and unbiased information available, the OSCE observations put the United States in a potentially difficult position. The United States, Saakashvili’s principal source of international support, has for years accepted the organization’s conclusions and praised its professionalism.

If these accounts are true, and there is little reason I know of to doubt them.  It would appear that Georgia did indeed lie about the start of the war and began combat themselves.  It doesn’t change that Russia took advantage of the pretext to crush their irritating neighbor, but these reports definitely support the Georgia miscalculated and started the war explanation.



  1. The fact that OSCE mission in Georgia did not dispute its own observers account of events, as reported by NY Times, is indeed a statement of its own: OSCE is putting US into a difficult position to defend its GOP (Bush-Cheney) policies towards propping up rather undemocratic regime in Georgia.

    The fact that these findings by OSCE are published 2 months later and not a day earlier (after the elections) – tells a darker story: that main stream media would rather jump the gun and act on its russo-phobic instincts and to helping GOP ticket by putting blame on Russia then actually get their stories from the ground.

    For weeks we had to observe the dubious photos of one damaged building…and never seen as single photo of the completely ruined Tsinkhvalli.

    Now that the dust has settled and the election frenzy is over – the OSCE shyly admits that the regime in Georgia has committed atrocities and in fact started the war. But we do not see a retraction of all that “aggressor” talk against Russia.

    The so called ‘disproportionate’ response by Russians is now looking more and more like an appropriate and proportionate response that has tough the puppet regime in Georgia a lesson.

    The mainstream media has to drop its russophobia – or else the task of mending the world after Bush-Cheney disastrous policies will be so much slower.

  2. Hi JWR, thanks for your comment and welcome to the site.

    Id agree with you that the MSM does seem quite suspicious of Russia. I do doubt however the the OSCE really delayed publishing these reports for fear of hurting the election.


    Because it would have undercut McCain and his “were all Georgians now” position, much more than Obama. And I imagine the OSCE big whigs would have been cool with that. I cant speculate on why the delay, but I cant imagine it was to protect McCain.

    All that being said I think you make a very good point about the MSM’s bias against Russia. Georgia is hardly the first instance, in Kosovo it did very little to educate the public about why Russia was unhappy with the situation and why it could lead to problems down the road, you know problems like them taking advantage of an overly aggressive Georgia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: