From the Jamestown Foundation archive:
Sounds familiar doesn't it?
Similarities with last year
Disillusionment with Saakashvili
Disorganisation of the Opposition (and now more angry)
Russian military activity in breakaway areas (and increased informal militias)
Ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Ineffectiveness of UN and OSCE monitoring (no monitoring in breakaway areas)
Russian military manoeuvres in the North Caucasus again in July
Holiday season coming up
Extra disruptive factors
Global financial crisis distracting the rest of the world
Sever financial trouble at home in Russia needs adventures abroad as distraction
President Obama still supporting Georgia even though Europe has gone cool
NATO manoeuvres held in Georgia
More trouble in Moldova and Ukraine
Increasing troubles in North Caucasus this month
Awareness of the lack of readiness of Russian army
From the 16 June Jamestown article we have the following:
The most dangerous period within which a new full-scale war with
Georgiamight occur will be from July 10 until after President Barack Obama visits in August, while the invasion forces are already deployed and poised for action, under the cover of "Kavkaz-2009." If Russian forces go into action, their objectives will be decisive. Moscow
The author of the 16 June article, Pavel Felgenhauer, continues that the Russian strategic objectives will be:
1. Regime change and the forceful demilitarization of
, fully dismantling and disarming the regime-loyal Georgian army, border guards and special police forces. Georgia
2. Establishing a secure land corridor linking
Russiato its strategically important military base in . Armenia
into a loose confederation of its many semi-independent regions with their regional king-pins, with a weak central government and without any national military-security forces. Russian military forces will be permanently stationed within the Georgian confederation, ensuring influence, control of energy supply corridors to the Caspian and Georgia Central Asia, and ending the country's aspirations to join NATO.
The first objective will hardly be difficult given the performance of the Georgian army last year, since the global financial crisis has meant that it could not be re-equipped and it can hardly be much better trained now. While the Russian army was not better equipped or much better disciplined, it comes with bigger numbers and fire power.
The second objective is essential, as currently not only is there no land access, but Georgia also controls the supply of gas to Armenia, and we all know that gas can be used as a political weapon.
The ease of achieving the third objective was amply demonstrated last August when Georgia was effective cut in two after the advance up to the main east-west highway at Gori, which also houses a large military base. The advance on Tbilisi will be aided by the new motorway being constructed as part of Georgia's ambition to be a transportation transit corridor, to which it is dedicating most of its development resources, without considering the risks of putting all its eggs in one basket.
Felgenhauer continues that the Russian operational objectives will be to:
1. To engage and fully decimate the most capable Georgian government forces (artillery and special forces, including police special forces) in decisive battles.
2. To isolate
from any possible external aid by taking under control its ports, major roads and airfields. One of the prime military targets of any future campaign could be the cluster of airfields and airstrips east of Georgia (Vaziani). Tbilisi
3. When the regular Georgian army, police and security forces are smashed, the existing political internal tensions could precipitate the disintegration of the present unified Georgian state. The international community may eventually leave
to manage the ensuing mess. Russia
Russia managed to bomb Poti and the military airports last year without any problem. Felgenhauer has already described here in February the plan for taking Tbilisi so it is already well known.
And what else is reassuring?
With its present array of weapons, training and capabilities, the Georgian forces do not appear sufficient to deter
. The international community is doing almost nothing, apparently hoping that marginalizing Russia Georgiaand charming is the best possible policy. The Russia U.S.assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Philip H. Gordon has confirmed that the U.S.will not provide with any defensive or other weapons (RIA Novosti, June 9). This development has been eagerly awaited in Georgia . Moscow
And I forgot: this year we don't have any distractions like the Olympic Games. Luckily Joe Biden is coming to Georgia for 20-24 July. That should give us till the end of July at least.
If that's not enough for you, I recommend this week's International Crisis Group report here, encouragingly titled "Georgia-Russia: Still Insecure and Dangerous". That's only South Ossetia, apparently there's worse to come on Abkhazia.