GEORGIA UPDATE….Monday has come and gone, so how’s that promised Russian withdrawal from Georgia going? Not so well, apparently:
Journalists and diplomats viewing various Russian positions around the country Monday reported no sign of a general pullout. About the only possible evidence of a wind-down was a convoy of Russian trucks that a Reuters news agency photographer in South Ossetia saw moving toward the Russian border.
Georgian officials said that rather than pull back, the Russians broadened their presence Monday in some places, sending armored columns for the first time toward Borjomi city, southwest of Gori, and Sachkhere, to the northwest.
Every other news report says roughly the same thing: despite Russian claims that they’re pulling out, there’s no sign on the ground that they’re going anywhere at the moment. In fact, after blowing up a key railroad bridge over the weekend, they took the time Monday to blow up an airfield in western Georgia too.
Why? Another example of “extra security measures”? Perhaps, but I wonder if there’s more going on. Somebody should correct me if I’m mistaken about this, but blowing up airstrips is generally pretty pointless as a security measure since they’re extremely easy to rebuild as soon as the occupying army is gone. So why bother?
Just random violence, maybe. Or maybe the Russians are hoping to provoke the Georgians into fighting back so that they have an excuse to stay? This quote from a senior officer seems to suggest it:
[Col. Gen. Anatoly] Nogovitsyn noted that “the situation in the Russian peacekeepers’ responsibility zones is under their full control, providing favorable conditions for the disengagement of the troops to the designated areas.” But he immediately hedged his statement. “We are fully aware that the Georgian side is capable of carrying out provocations toward our troops and civilians at any moment.”
Indeed. It sounds like Nogovitsyn is just waiting for a “provocation.” Hopefully the Georgians won’t be dumb enough to provide him with one.