A Lonely Stand on South Ossetia

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Although the Georgian war has ended victoriously for Russia, many questions remain.

  Before the war started, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity declared that in the event of Georgian aggression, South Ossetia would deliver a counterstrike: "We retain the right to strike Georgian cities, and we have the means to do this."

The media also reported that the South Ossetian army had 87 tanks, 80 infantry combat vehicles, 90 armored personnel carriers, 23 Grad truck-fired missile systems, more than 200 mobile anti-aircraft and anti-tank guided missile systems, and so on.

But, as it became clear after Georgia's initial assault, the South Ossetian army never existed. It turned out the local militia had neither tanks nor even grenade launchers.

Question: Whose army was Kokoity referring to? Whose weapons was he planning to use in his counterstrike against Georgian cities?

Perhaps here are the answers: On Aug. 7, the eve of the war, front-line units of Russia's 135th and 693rd regiments were stationed at a huge military base that had long been under construction in Dzhava, South Ossetia. If Russia's goal had been to protect the breakaway republic from Georgian aggression, it could have stationed its troops along the republic's border and declared South Ossetia's independence before a war ever broke out. And maybe alongside Nicaragua, even Somalia would have recognized the republic's independence.

Question: If Russia's goal was to protect the Ossetian people from the bloodthirsty Georgian fascists, why wasn't its 58th Army stationed in plain view in South Ossetia?

A video was posted on the Internet filmed by Georgian soldiers who were among the first to enter Tskhinvali. It shows that after the shelling on the night of Aug. 8, Georgian forces found the city practically undamaged. The buildings, trees and even fences were all intact, although a few broken windows were visible. Three days later, when Russian forces liberated the city, it lay in ruins.

Question: Who destroyed Tskhinvali?

At 3 a.m. on Aug. 8, Russia officially announced it was at war, and two hours later it was announced on television that columns of Russian troops had regained Tskhinvali. This is not true. The citizens of Tskhinvali sat in their basements for three nights in a row and only saw the Russian tanks on Sunday.

Question: Who was conducting the aerial bombardment and lobbing Grad missiles into the city on Friday and Saturday, when Georgian troops had control of the city?

"All the roads were full of bomb craters and nothing but mush remained of them," said Nelli Bikoyeva of the official pro-Kremlin group that gathers testimony from eyewitnesses of the war in South Ossetia. She was speaking about Saturday, Aug. 9, when she ran from one basement to another seeking refuge. "Corpses and pieces of broken trees lay in the streets, buildings were burning."

Question: Who created those bomb craters? Could Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili really have been so mad as to bomb his own troops?

Everybody knows that the Soviet Union never attacked any of its neighbors. To the contrary, those treacherous neighbors were always the ones who attacked the Soviet Union. Of course, there were a few isolated cases when the Soviet Union felt compelled to help its socialist brothers in their struggles for emancipation.

When Comrade Stalin supported North Korea's struggle for emancipation, all the Warsaw Pact countries voiced their support. When the Soviet Union gave "international aid" to the people of Afghanistan, the Warsaw Pact countries again supported its policies. In 2008, when the Kremlin gave assistance to Kokoity's anti-fascist regime, Hamas, Hezbollah and Nicaragua supported Moscow.

Question: How did it happen that not even Libya and North Korea took Russia's side? How did Russia end up so completely alone?

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.