From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng (Original Message) Sent: 8/7/2007 5:49 PM Bombs from out of the blue
Leader Wednesday August 8, 2007
Guardian Wars in the Caucasus start with unexplained events. An unmarked column of tanks advances towards Grozny, in Chechnya. Unknown helicopter gunships strafe the Kodori Gorge, on the fringes of the disputed territory of Abkhazia. On Monday night two mystery Sukhoi bombers fired a missile that landed in a field in South Ossetia. Quite whose column of tanks, helicopter gunships, and Sukhoi bombers are involved has become a matter of bitter dispute.
Georgia yesterday accused Russia of an "undisguised aggression" and produced parts of the one tonne missile, which did not explode, in evidence. Russia flatly denied involvement, saying that a number of countries had Sukhoi bombers, including Georgia itself. Russia's presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that no Russian planes had violated Georgian airspace. Both sides claimed the strike was a provocative act, aimed at disrupting efforts to solve one of the outstanding "frozen conflicts" in the region.
The mystery missile is the latest episode in a deteriorating relationship between Russia and Georgia, which is trying to shed Russia's influence and join Nato. The field where the missile landed is next to South Ossetia, an ethnically mixed separatist province locked in an 18-year conflict to break away from Tbilisi. Last year tensions between the Moscow-backed Ossetian villagers and the Tbilisi-backed Georgian villagers rose to boiling point, after each community held a referendum, respectively seeking independence from and federation with Georgia.
To muddy the waters still further, Georgia found a former member of the secessionist administration of South Ossetia, to head a parallel authority. Today the tiny province has two de-facto leaders, two peace plans and two forces armed by mutually hostile neighbours. Relations between Russia and Georgia had only just started to recover from the last episode, when Georgia deported four Russian army officers on suspicion of spying and Moscow responded by deporting several thousand Georgians and by banning imports of Georgian fruit and wine. The Russian ambassador had just returned to Tbilisi, and there had been hints of a meeting between Vladimir Putin and the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.
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