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There are also strategic and economic benefits for Russia and Iran if Georgia is invaded. Europe gets about 1 million barrels of oil per day from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan through a pipeline that goes from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia to Ceyhan, Turkey. It goes around Russian and Iranian territory. In the 2008 war, Russian aircraft were witnessed bombing it. By invading Georgia, Russia gets control of that critical pipeline.
The Russians have sought the overthrow of Saakashvili ever since the 2008 war and has consistently claimed that he’s sponsoring jihadist terrorism to justify future action. One Russian lieutenant that was interviewed during the last war said, “It [South Ossetia] will be Russia. And Georgia used to be Russian, too.”
In 2009, Russia warned Georgia of severe consequences if it permitted NATO to hold military exercises on its land. In April, Russian forces moved to within 25 miles of Tbilisi. The next month, a coup was launched against Saakashvili from a base near the capital but it was quickly quelled. One of the participants, a former special forces major, told his interrogators that Russia had engineered it. The Russians planned to send 5,000 soldiers to reinforce the rebels as they approached the capital, he said. The Georgian government said the coup plotters were paid by Russia.
In August 2009, Russia accused Georgia of orchestrating an Al-Qaeda suicide bombing in Ingushetia. Russia immediately cast suspicion on Georgia after the March 29, 2010 subway bombings in Moscow. The Deputy Foreign Minister said that Saakashvili is “unpredictable” and could strike at any moment.
Hypocritically, it’s Russia that’s been sponsoring the covert attacks. A secret U.S. intelligence report from 2007 reveals that the Russian GRU has been behind a number of violent “active measures” in Georgia since 2004, including the killing of Georgian cops, a 2005 car bombing, two attacks on the Georgian-Russian pipeline in 2006, the sabotage of a vital power line and the arming of separatists. Russia was also responsible for an explosion next to the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi on September 22, 2010.
In February 2011, Saakashvili asked the U.S. to put anti-ballistic missile radar in Georgia, infuriating Russia. If Russia threatened to militarily destroy any ABM systems put into Eastern Europe, you can imagine how seriously Russia takes a request to assemble them in Georgia.
Russia has made no secret of its desire to get rid of Saakashvili once and for all. In 2005, Vladimir Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. That is the mindset we’re dealing with.
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