Friday, April 17, 2009

Another Russia-Georgia Conflict Brewing? (Multiple Sources)

The Russians are objecting to a series of low-scale NATO Exercises scheduled to begin in early May at an airbase outside of Tbilisi, Georgia.

Such diplomatic maneuvering would be within normal limits if it weren't for the disturbing news regarding the forward deployment of troops, tanks and artillery reported yesterday by Reuters and the sortie of the Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol reported yesterday by the armchair admirals over at the Information Dissemination blog.

Add to this the possibility of Russian funding for the protests against Georgian President Saakashvili that began last week and a worrisome pattern begins to emerge. In fact, the Jamestown Foundation puts these exact pieces together in a recent report while the Caucasus Analytic Digest claims that NATO doesn't have the stomach for a fight in Georgia.

Georgia's Foreign Minister, on the other hand, thinks nothing will happen and even decided to poke the bear a bit: "...Russia would be afraid to undertake a new military aggression against Georgia because it would be entering in confrontation with the rest of the civilized world." (Hey, buddy, are we talking about the same Russia?)


I don't have a background in this area and so am unqualified to comment on the news or the reliability of the sources. On the off-chance that this region of the world is going to heat up in the next couple of weeks, though, I thought I would put together some good open sources to help new analysts get started:

History/Future of the Conflict:
Wikipedia on the 2008 South Ossetia War. Very detailed, comprehensively sourced with a truly outstanding map.
NATO After the Georgian Conflict. A recent Polish Institute Of International Affairs Study (in English).

The Black Sea Fleet and the Russian Military:
The unofficial Black Sea Fleet Website. Good pictures, info and history.
Wikipedia on the Black Sea Fleet. Amazingly comprehensive site.
Warfare.RU. I did not spend much time on this site but I found what I did see to be pretty good stuff on the Russian military. Tons of pictures. The guys who write this site are also referenced in Google Earth through the Google Earth Community (all of the "i's" in the image of the Sevastopol navy base to the left).

News and Other General Information Sources
Information Dissemination. These guys are watching the naval part of this and will likely have some good armchair analysis if it progresses.
UN Observer Mission In Georgia. Probably the best one stop shopping place for current, detailed news in English from inside Georgia.
EU Monitoring Mission In Georgia. Not as current as the UN site but has some good maps and background data.
ReliefWeb on Georgia. ReliefWeb is a UN effort of consolidate news and info from a number of sources into a single place for NGOs. It usually has the best, most current open source maps available as well.
Reuters AlertNet. Reuters has done a good job of consolidating news and background info into a single site.
The Institute Of War And Peace Reporting, the International Crisis Group and the International Relations and Security Network. All three organizations maintain special sections on the crisis in Georgia.

Do you have another source of interest? Drop it in the comments...

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

Thanks for this post, Kris. I passed it along to our team members who are focusing on Russia. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.