Wednesday, 13 August 2008

In South Ossetia

A ceasefire is in place between the Russian and Georgian armed forces, but it is apparently very fragile. There is a lot of distrust between the parties, and the situation is very unstable. Estimates say that about 100,000 people are displaced, and up to 2,000 people - soldiers and civilians - have been killed so far (though the latter number is thought to be exaggerated, and anyone can only guess, because there is no information).

The conflict in South Ossetia is as much about media, and it is very difficult to trust any reports.
But a news report that most certainly cannot be disputed is that there are many handsome men involved in the conflict on all sides ...

A Georgian tank soldier in Gori on Saturday. From AP by George Abdaladze via daylife.

Chechen special forces soldiers from the Vostok (East) army unit sit atop of an APC as they move toward Tskhinvali on Saturday. From Reuters via daylife.

Georgian soldiers returning from Tskhinvali on Sunday. From AP via Der Spiegel.

A Russian peacekeeper sits at the checkpoint near Tskhinvali on Sunday. From Reuters via daylife.

A physician treats an injured man in a hospital in Dzhava, South Ossetia, on Sunday. From AP by Musa Sadulayev, via daylife.

A South Ossetian soldier secures an area next to a destroyed Russian armoured personnel carrier in Tskhinvali on Sunday. From Reuters via daylife.

A Russian soldier takes cover as a tank convoy enters Tskhinvali on Monday. From AP by Mikhail Metzel, via daylife.

A protester carries a Georgian flag and shouts anti-Russian slogans outside the Russian embassy in Beijing on Monday. From Reuters via daylife.

Russian soldiers drink water in Tskhinvali on Monday. From AFP/Getty Images via daylife.

A Georgian soldier smokes as Georgian forces head towards Tbilisi on Monday, just outside Gori. From Getty Images via daylife.

Soldiers, part of a Russian military convoy, travel on their way on a main road leading to the Georgian city of Zugdidi today, Wednesday. From Reuters via daylife.


ainur said...

This makes me sad. They are cute but there is something harsh in soldiers' faces that is both brutal and vulnerable. I hope there will be some kind of peace soon. I'm no fan of the nationalism on either side. Do you know any territorial conflicts where there has been a happy solution to a triangle drama like this? Little nation -> separatist minority -> big nation. I can only think of the Åland islands question between Finland and Sweden (OK, comparing Sweden to Russia is a bit of a stretch, but _relatively_ bigger). Could Georgia do like the Finns and promise the South Ossetians a sweet tax-free deal instead of pounding them into submission? And Russia could try to emulate Sweden's "peaceful big brother" role instead, and accept the ruling of international arbiters? (This way we avoid the touchy issue of a plebiscite - the Ålanders were also not allowed to vote where they wanted to belong... apparently nobody ever really wants to hear what the ordinary people think.)

I was speaking to one of my professors about the conflict yesterday. He has a Georgian student in his course right now. Makes one think twice before one blurts out something about "imagined communities".

Tinet said...

Right now I can't think of any similar conflict that found a happy, unbloody solution. Macedonia?
Maybe it's just because "peacefully solved conflicts" don't get as much media attention (unless they involve unusually peaceful countries like Sweden, perhaps).

Like in many other conflicts, in South Ossetia the main problem to me seems to be that there are greedy and irresponsible people with too much power in both the Georgian, the Russian and the South Ossetian government.

bubu said...

Katsellessa kavereiden kasvoja mulle tulee mieleen, et nää sotilaat on koulutettuja tappajia.
Heillä ei saa olla omia tunteita tehdessään tätä työtä.

Voi kun tämäkin energia ja raha käytettäs normaaliin elämiseen!

Ihminen on kyllä hirvee!

ainur said...

Another thing that makes me realize that the Åland crisis comparison isn't very good: Sweden had no real motive to insist on Åland's right to self-determination, because Sweden needed a strong and friendly Finland as a shield against the Soviet Union. And Finland couldn't afford being nasty to the Ålanders, because they needed a friendly Sweden as back-up. So the whole peaceful solution was possible "thanks" to Russia...

Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia are on their own. There is no motivation for the politicians to keep the peace. They have nothing that could unite them. But does it always have to be an enemy figure?...

bubu said...

Muuten, tässä kirjassa (A. Babtjenko; Krigets färger) mainitaan venäjän armeijan tärkeimmäks tukipisteeks(-kohdaks) Kaukasuksella (garnison)kaupunki nimeltä Mozdok, joka sijaitsee Pohjois-Ossetiassa.

Tää kirjahan käsittelee siis Tjetjenien-sotaa.

Tinet said...

Mozdokhan on Pohjois-Ossetiassa (Venäjässa), eikä Etelä-Ossetiassa (Gruusiassa).
Sehän on hyvin lähellä Tsetseeniaa, Kaukasuksen päärautatien varrella - tässä se on merkitty karttaan. Ja niin se on sopiva paikka venäläiselle tukipisteelle Tsetseenian sodassa.

Tinet said...

Soldiers from the Russian Emergency Ministry distribute food in Gori and Tskhinvali while priests look on.

Anonymous said...

stop russian aggression to georgia.

there is only pictures of tanks.

where is pictures of the russian aircraft ?

Tinet said...

The tanks in the photos are merely coincidental. We have pictures of soldiers - Russian, Georgian and Ossetian.