The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Cold War Two

I would like to extend a “welcome back” to the 1980s. It seems the decade of my formative years has returned…with a vengance of sorts.

First off, we have the Russians making their resurgence into the world stage. Over the past week, they’ve been bombing the hell out of Georgia, one of the former sattelite states of the Soviet Union. Why? Because the Georgians attacked a group of separatists in the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (Background: these territories declared independence from Georgia in the 1990s, but aren’t recognized as independent nations) 

And was there a measured, diplomatic response from Russia? Course not; that isn’t Russian style. They invaded the country, going way past the two provinces that are the center of the conflict, and have even begun a naval blockade and bombardment campaign. Fred Kegan of the Institute for the Study of War reported that as of August 10, the following Russian military elements were in Georgia:

  • Following the Georgian movement into South Ossetia, which the Russians say cut off their peacekeeping detachment in Tskhinvali, the Russians sent elements of the 503rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (one of three Motorized Rifle Regiments in the 19th Motor Rifle Division based at Vladikavkaz). The likelihood is that the entire regiment deployed. Elements of that formation relieved the peacekeepers in Tskhinvali. It is unclear whether any other formations of the 19th MR Division or of the 58th Army of which it is a part deployed, but the commander of the 58th Army, Lieutenant General Anatolii Khrulev, was personally in South Ossetia and was wounded in an attack on his convoy.
  • The Russians reinforced with elements of two airborne divisions, the 76th Air Assault Division based in Pskov (St. Petersburg Military District), and the 98th Airborne Division based in Ivanovo (Moscow Military District). It is not clear how large these deployments were, but it is very likely that multiple battalions at least, and most likely one regiment from each formation were deployed.
  • Spetznaz elements of the 45th Special Reconnaissance Regiment, based in Moscow, also deployed. This formation had previously participated in the second assault on Grozny.
  • The Russian Army concentrated attack aviation (fixed-wing) in bases near South Ossetia, but the scale of that concentration is unclear.
  • Border forces under the control of the FSB were mobilized and formed into operational groups along the northern border of South Ossetia.
  • In all, there is probably the equivalent of a small combined-arms Russian division (perhaps 5-7,000 soldiers) in South Ossetia backed up by considerable rotary-wing and fixed-wing air support stationed at bases very close to the conflict zone.
  • The Black Sea Fleet has deployed a flotilla off the Abkhazian coast (although Pravda reports that its mission is to “blockade Georgia,” the Russian Fleet denies that it has such an aim).[2] The Black Sea Fleet has announced that it has established a “security zone” around its flotilla, and that it fired on four small ships that approached from the Georgian coast, destroying one and sending the other three fleeing back in the direction of the Georgian port of Poti (which is not in Abkhazia). The Black Sea Fleet also reports firing on land targets.
  • Conventional military wisdom says that there’s no way that many troops could have been organized for this sort of action in a short period. Was this planned long beforehand? Well, if you consider that the former Russian President-Vladimir Putin, now the country’s prime minister-and the current Georgian President have been at odds ever since Georgia made overtures to join NATO (they were turned down), you could draw the conclusion that the Russians would-hell, are-not happy with a democracy that close to their borders, even if it is a fledging one (Georgia was one of the most corrupt countries in the world, as recently as 2003, when the current administration there cleaned house).

    Remind you of anyone? Say hello to the New Russia, apparently the same as the Old Russia.

    Meanwhile, we here in the US are preparing for the almost inevitable “surge” into Afghanistan that will probably begin in earnest sometime in 2009-2010. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that we shouldn’t focus our efforts on the Taliban “thaw out” in Afghanistan, but as historical precedent shows, heavy military footprints in Afghanistan have not gone well.  The Afghans are a proud people, and don’t take too kindly to occupation-by anyone.  An Iraq-style action in Afghanistan would not work, and would, quite possibly, be the action that sets the United States down the path of the Soviet Union.

    And of course, our military is still tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan….so we’re relegated to the sidelines in the Georgian conflict. And, for all you “war for oil” lovers out there, there’s a huge pipeline that supplies oil to transport ships in the Black Sea…that, by their invasion, the Russians have effectively shut down.

    Leads you to wonder…..could the Russian resurgence, coupled with the involvement of the US worldwide, lead to another cold war between the two countries?

    Or-worse-did the US really win the first one?




    Written by Coby Dillard

    August 14, 2008 at 12:15 pm

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