THE CAUCASUS is ablaze after Russian forces fought to drive the Georgian army out of the breakaway republics that look to the Kremlin for protection. Meanwhile the imperialists bleat about the fate of a Georgian puppet whom they incited in the first place to launch this insane provocation. The Russians now have the upper hand. The Georgian army has been routed and the Russians have called a halt to their military operations.
The Georgians are begging for a ceasefire and blaming the West for not bailing them out of a crisis of their own making. But the man they should blame is their own president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has brought his country to the brink of disaster through a reckless gamble that has so dramatically backfired.
Georgian forces launched a treacherous dawn attack on the autonomous republic of South Ossetia on 8th August briefly occupying the capital, Tskhinvali, and killing many civilians and a number of Russian peace-keeping soldiers and forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee across the border to North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.
The Georgian leadership clearly believed that they could do this while many world leaders, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, were distracted in Beijing for the opening of the Olympics; that they could rely on the US imperialism to support their unilateral aggression and that the Russians would do nothing. The reactionary Georgian nationalist regime miscalculated on all three counts.
Georgia is a willing tool of imperialism, sending troops to support the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and pushing to join Nato and the European Union. The Americans and Israel have helped arm and train the Georgian armed forces. Georgia plays a pivotal role in the supply of oil from the Caspian region to the West as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through much of the country and the Americans see Georgia as a useful base to menace Russia and the countries of the Middle East.
In Soviet times the peoples of the Caucasus lived in harmony with one another. The collapse of Soviet power in the late 1980s, led by Gorbachov and the other traitors in the Kremlin, fuelled the rise of reactionary nationalist forces throughout the USSR and the Soviet Union fell apart. The former Soviet republics declared full independence but many of them ignored the legitimate demands of the long established autonomous republics and provinces within their territories.
In Georgia the South Ossetians and Abkhazian nationalists demanded full autonomy and when the Georgian government not only rejected this but abolished their existing rights, these communities launched a full-scale revolt.
Fighting ended in the early 1990s when the Georgians recognised the autonomous republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia under international agreements that provided for the stationing of Russian peace-keeping forces.
No one should be surprised at the Russian response. Under those agreements Russian peace-keeping forces maintain the truce and they are obliged if one party breaks the ceasefire to defend the other, which is exactly what they did when they intervened to save the South Ossetians, most of whom are Russian citizens, and drive the Georgians out. The Russians have always called for a peaceful negotiated solution to the problem. The Georgian regime has continually tried to settle this by force. Last week they overplayed their hand.