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What did Putin admit?!

By Andrey Illarionov
Georgia Online, 17 September '12


There has not been a single anniversary of the hot phase of the Russian-Georgian war (1-22 August 2008) without new disclosure of what, when and how the authors of aggression were doing against a neighboring state. The fourth anniversary was not an exception, as it was marked with a new wave of self-exposure from the Russian general and political leaders.

The confession of Medvedev was already discussed.

Now it's time for Putin's confession.

Putin spoke about his participation in the preparation and conducting of the Russian-Georgian war twice last August First – responding journalists' questions during a visit to the Leningrad Region, Russia on August 7:

QUESTION: Where was the intelligence then, military intelligence?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Was working. I think that intelligence has done its job.

QUESTION: So you do not agree with the authors of the film, who believe that Russia has lost the first day of the war?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, the decision to use the armed forces - is a very important decision, because it is an order to start hostilities. And then there are shootings, people die. Before you make these decisions, must think twice. This is a complex and very important decision.

QUESTION: How long did you think for?

Vladimir Putin: how long, you can count yourself.

QUESTION: was it a night, at least?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: three days.

QUESTION: For three days?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course. Actual approach of troops, attacks started around 4-5th. I can not remember now, the 5th, in my opinion.

RESPONSE: But the Georgian army, by then was acting.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I'm talking exactly about it. They have approached around 4-5th [August] and on 6th already launched a massive bombardment, artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launchers.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, but did they think for three days or we did?

Vladimir Putin: They attacked. We all know what happened, don't we. But I repeat, to make a decision on the use of the Armed Forces - is a very serious matter, so there is really a need to consider. You always have to think about.

Second time Putin spoke at a press conference following the visit of [President of Armenia] Serge Sargsyan on August 8:

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There was a plan, and in my opinion, it's no secret that the Russian side acted under the plan, I have already spoken about this publicly before. It's no secret, I repeat. The plan was prepared by the General Staff at the end of 2006 or early 2007. It was agreed and approved by me. Moreover, under this plan South Ossetian militias were trained. Though, our military experts, frankly speaking, thought that it was more or less useless, meaning that resistance to regular army of any state, even of such a small one like as Georgia, was impossible.

However it turned out that those people were more than demanded, they were very bravely defending their country. And for three days, until the Russian army approached, in fact together with our peacekeepers they had restrained Georgian units. Therefore, they have played their role. According to the plan the technique was mobilized and so on and so forth. So there is no secret. We have already talked about this.

As for the calls, I called Mr. President [Medvedev] twice, on 7 and 8 August, and the Minister of Defense. We discussed this issue.

Since these statements were made most of the public attention has been attracted to Putin's confession, that:

1) he telephoned Dmitri Medvedev on 7th and 8th of August 2008;

2) Russia had a plan of military actions against Georgia, prepared by the General Staff at the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007, approved by Vladimir Putin, who was the President of Russia and Supreme Commander by then.

3) According to this plan, [Russia] trained so-called "South Ossetian militias," "mobilized [military] equipment" "and so on and so forth."

From the point of view of the fact that by August 2012, it was known that preparation for Russian-Georgia war was carried out, these statements do not represent a great value.

1. Whether Putin called Medvedev in those days or not, did he influence Medvedev in some way or not, did Medvedev take decisions independently or not - all this is significant only for personal relationships of these two people. This information does not make any substantial change in the history of the Russian-Georgian war. As it was known in the past, long-term large-scale preparations for a war were carried out anyway under the supervision and the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Above all, directly responsible for the decision of the Russian authorities in August 7-8 2008 is still Medvedev.

2. The fact that the Russian military had a plan to attack Georgia, which was being prepared and put into practice in a number of years, was already known long before August 8, 2012, of course, Putin's confirmation of the existence of such a plan and the fact of its adoption by the highest officials of the state is certainly useful. However, everyone, who have seriously studied the history of the Russian-Georgian war, if did not know, then realized it before.

3. The fact that the Russian authorities, in flagrant violation of Dagomis agreement, at least in 2004 started training of South Ossetian fighters (namely the militants, because according to the agreements signed by Russia Dagomys South Ossetian de facto authorities were not allowed to have the Department of Defense and the regular armed forces) ,they were supplying South Ossetians with heavy military equipment at least in February 2003 (including tanks) and were engaged in what was described by Putin as "and so on and so on" (obviously, including the construction of the illegal military bases in South Ossetian territory of Georgia), also was not a big secret .It's true that, despite his statement of August 8, 2012 Putin did not speak about this before. At least in public.

However, apart from these three points, Putin said something else that seems have not yet attracted enough public attention.

First, Putin said that according to Russian military experts training of South Ossetian rebels was a matter of "more or less useless." In other words, though preparation was carried out according to General Staff's plan "sample 2006-07." no one in the Russian General Staff considered seriously this resource. That is, from the beginning of the operation against Georgia, General Staff of the Russian Army was going to carry it out by regular units of the Russian army. Therefore, no matter what hypotheses were put forward in recent years, as though South Ossetians themselves supposedly were going to seize Gori (Borjomi, Georgia, etc.), to carry out a "revolution in Georgia," to overthrow the existing government in Tbilisi…. the entire bluff was designed exclusively for the Russian public consumption, while the General Staff itself did not admit it seriously. The reality was that the General Staff in at least 2006-07 planned military operation, which had to be implemented by regular units of the Russian army.

Second, Putin said that the South Ossetian militia and Russian peacekeepers acted together, "... for three days until they reached the Russian army, in fact they [the" South Ossetian militias "] and our peacekeepers had restrained Georgian units. Therefore, they have played a role. In the frame of that plan was mobilized military equipment, and so on and so forth. So there is no secret. We have already talked about this. "Thus, Putin personally reiterated that instead of taking action on breeding the parties and a ceasefire (the official mandate of peacekeepers) Russian troops, which were in the territory of Georgia under the name of peacekeepers had different task ordered by the General Staff - joint action with South Ossetian rebels against Georgia.

Third, Putin had confirmed the date and time of giving an order (apparently by him and Medvedev) to Russian authorities for the implementation of aggression against Georgia.

Several times, Putin said that reflections on the impact of the order - use of the Armed Forces ("the beginning of hostilities") took him (the Russian authorities) three days. What does this mean?

According to the commander of the 58th Army Khrulev, he gave the order to conduct combat operations at 00.03 minutes August 8 , at 00.07 he received the confirmation signal from the North Caucasus Military District headquarters, then" combat works began" at 0015. Khrulev and Commander of the North Caucasus Military District S. Makarov were already in the Centre of Combat Control where they "continued military operation", and at 00.20 on August 8, according to the commander of the 693rd Regiment Kazachenko, he received an order from the General Staff on the beginning of the movement to the direction of Tskhinvali. Thus, the time, when the order on starting hostilities against Georgia by Russian forces (within understanding of the Russian military) was identified fairly accurately - 00.03 am August 8, 2008.

Putin said that about giving the order to start combat operations he (and possibly unnamed citizens) "thought" for three days. If such an order was issued immediately after midnight on August 8, it turns out that the beginning of "thoughts" on the giving the order for start of operations comes to the night of 4-5 August. To eliminate any doubt Putin additionally have the exact date on which he counts - August 4-5. Consequently, 4-5 August 2008 was something quite significant, noticeable and memorable, which allowed Putin to remember this event even four years later.

However, by saying that, Putin tried to introduce to the audience (readers) obvious mistake, saying that at the time "the Georgian army approached ":

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course. Actual approach of troops, the number of attacks began around 4-5th. I now can not remember, the 5th, in my opinion.

RESPONSE: But the Georgian army, by then was acting.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I'm talking about it, they approached on 4th-5th and on 6th already launched a massive bombardment, artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launchers.

It is well known that this statement is not true. Time when the order was given to Georgian forces and the beginning of actions have been identified in the fall of 2008, this happened immediately after the meeting of the Security Council of Georgia on August 7 about 14.30. Georgian officers started to abandon their positions in the headquarters of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces, according to the same Putin, only at 14.42 on August 7. And heavy artillery shelling, even according to Putin (CNN interview four years ago), started after that. Thus, actions of the Georgian side could not be interpreted as the beginning of war or preparing to it before 14.42 August 7.

The question is, what happened on August 4-5, when Putin srtated to "think" about giving the order to start combat operation? Whose "approached army" did he mean? Or the "massive bombardment, artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launchers" from August 4-5. As the Georgian armed forces were ordered to move out from their bases only on 7 August at 14.30, and the order to attack military positions of South Ossetians in Tskhinvali - only on 7 August at 23.35, then the date named by Putin - the night of 4th -5th August - is the beginning of a sharp intensified fighting not from the Georgian side but the Russian-South Ossetian side.

The mentioned date - the night of the 4th to the 5th of August (early morning, August 5) – this is the time of giving order (version: together with Medvedev) to Russian forces on moving towards the South Ossetian part of the territory of Georgia.

It was August 5, as confirmed by Khrulev, when the commander Makarov "approved the decision to strengthen the Russian military contingent in South Ossetia."

It was early morning of August 5 when the Private A. Markus from the six artillery battery of the military base N37271 (292nd Regiment) together with his unit left the places of permanent deployment and went to "war with Georgia":

"Early in the morning of August 5, we were ordered to leave our places of permanent deployment and take up a position near the village Tarski. Already at 6 am military vehicles had left the parking in the city of Vladikavkaz. Everything was in working manner, with no fuss and nervous trembling.

Sitting inside the vehicle, I decided to inform home about this "trip" ... pulled out cell phone from a jacket, I wrote him a message, where I spoke about moving troops towards Georgia and asked him not to say anything to my family. I was wondering whether I did right or wrong by not informing my relatives about this?.. Probably right. After all, I don't know what they would go through if I would have notified them on fifth about the march, and on the 8th they would find out from TV about beginning of war…

It was dark when we got there. Not having time to take a break after the trip, we got a new task ... endless stream of "KAMAZ" [vehicles] started to arrive from Vladikavkaz with ammunition. Under the lights of midnight we were unloading the shells, then stocked them in 2S3M. Only then, the perception of the war, as something inevitable, became clear ... at 3 am we were allowed to have a sleep ...
".

It was exactly on August 5 when the 107th group of the 10th Special Forces Brigade was sent to South Ossetia (of course, without any consent or even informing the Georgian authorities and, therefore, in flagrant violation of the Dagomys agreement signed by Russia).

"My Son served in the Rostov region, he called me on August 5 and said he was being moved to Ossetia," said through tears a mother of a dead hero.

Thus, in his comments Vladimir Putin once again - this time on his level - confirmed the previously established date and time of giving an order to the Russian authorities to start the aggression against Georgia - a violation of Russian-Georgian border, which was officially recognized at that time by Russian authorities. This is the night of 4th to 5th of August 2008.

Putin knew that giving out such an order would inevitably mean a war, and so he well remembered the date and time when he (along with colleagues) gave such an order. He remembered as well the next three days, during which he and his colleagues feverishly "thought", when to give order on opening the fire (as they understand it is the beginning of hostilities) to the troops already on the territory of Georgia and to the troops that were not there yet. Fearing that placed "in the mountains" of South Ossetia, the Russian regular troops could be found at any time, which, of course, would be the subject of quite reasonable charges of Russia in international aggression, the Russian authorities used the beginning of the Georgian shelling of the South Ossetian positions for immediate combat action. The corresponding order was given to Khrulev on 00.03 August 8 - 28 minutes after the shelling by Georgians began and two and a half hours before the entry of Georgian troops in South Ossetia.

It should be added that both, Putin and Medvedev and the Russian generals, try to separate the orders given to Russian troops to start combat operations (opening fire), one given 3 minutes after midnight on Aug. 8, 2008, and the order on the deployment of Russian troops in Georgia, given on the night of August 5, which, apparently, in their view, was not the beginning of the fighting. In contrast to that, the United Nations General Assembly has a different opinion:

Definition of Aggression

Approved by resolution 3314 (XXIX) of the General Assembly on December 14, 1974

...

Article 2

The use of armed force by a State in contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie evidence of an act of aggression ...

Article 3

Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of article 2, qualify as an act of aggression:

a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State on the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary it may wear, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof;

...
e) The use of armed forces of one State in the territory of another State with the agreement of the receiving State, in contravention of the conditions provided for in the agreement or any extension of their presence in such territory beyond the termination of the agreement;

...
g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.

Identification of the start of the Russian aggression (with regular Russian troops) against Georgia also allows concluding that the decision by the Georgian authorities about shelling South Ossetian positions on August 7 at 23.35 was insignificant (in terms of beginning of the war). Would be the order be given or not, would the shelling of Tskhinvali take place or not, would have been peacekeepers (a separate question of how and for what) and civilians killed or not – appears to be insignificant in this case. The Russian war machine aiming to defeat Georgia, was launched at the latest August 5, from that date, the Russian troops were already on the territory of Georgia. The Russian authorities were not and were not going to hold any negotiations with Georgia, and the General Staff's plan created 2006-07 was designed to defeat of the Georgian armed forces, regardless of their actions or inaction.

Now, not only we know, but we now have an important confirmation (thanks to Vladimir Putin for his valuable testimony proving this knowledge) that the hottest phase of the Russian-Georgian war was initiated by Russian authorities on August 5, 2008.

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