Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Soldiers shooting civilians

This morning, I talked with a taxi driver who had driven up to the Georgian border town of Krasny Most with some journalists. The journalists are still in Georgia. The taxi driver came back. He didn’t see bombs, but he smelled them. Also, saw many refugees. Not all of them Georgian. Many Azerbaijanis live there too. People unfamiliar with this area don’t realize how many ethnic groups exist, all mixed in together, without regard to national borders.

He also said that witnesses spoke of Russian soldiers shooting civilians. Just shooting everybody.

Another Azerbaijani with connections inside of Georgia told me today that the Russians have taken Poti, a city near one of the factories of SOCAR, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic. Gori is now without Georgian troops, and many Georgians are trapped within their own country, unable to get to Tblisi and unable to get to safety.

I have e-mailed one of my contacts within Tblisi, but I haven’t heard back from her yet.

People in Azerbaijan are taking this very seriously. It's not like they are expecting an invasion exactly, but they recognize the naked flexing of power by Russia. It is familiar. And the situation looks terrible for the Americans. They have been shown again to be faithless and untrustworthy. Georgia had been doing everything it could to qualify for membership in the community of Western nations, but in the end, Georgia’s Western friends could not or would not help it.

2 comments:

JTapp said...

One would think the lesson for Azerbaijan would be quite ominous, given the inevitable retaking of Karabagh that they plan on. "Don't do anything without Putin's permission" would seem to be what the Kremlin's message is.
Medvedev recently expressed support for the Azeri position but says he wants to buy all of their natural gas. Perhaps that's the deal Azerbaijan has to make-- Russia's blessing on Karabagh in exchange for not selling any more gas Westward?

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