MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - The hostilities involving Russian and Georgian troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which have now been going on for more than four days, have eclipsed the Olympic Games in Beijing. This August has already entered the annals of history, but the situation continues to develop.
The situation has both military and political aspects. Militarily, the predictions of most experts have been vindicated- Georgia's blitzkrieg against South Ossetia has failed. Even in the first half of August 8, when Russian troops had yet to reach Tskhinvali, and flights by Russian aircraft were not frequent, the Georgian troops managed to occupy the greater part of city only after the second attempt.
At the same time, the Georgian troops demonstrated their ability to operate in a complicated situation. The South Ossetian volunteers were no less ready to resist the attack.
The Russian armed forces deserve special mention. While being in far from its best shape, the Russian war machine proved to be quite efficient at all levels. Strategically, it was fast in making a decision and introducing troops. Operationally, it had enough combat-ready units at division level that could be quickly brought into action. Tactically, the army had to limit the use of heavy artillery and aviation to avoid civilian losses.
However, our efforts to suppress Georgian air defenses were not that great, and we lost more aircraft than we should have. But this is the first time since the Second World War that we have had to deal with air defense systems more serious than small-caliber artillery and PZRKs (handheld anti-aircraft missile systems).
The fleet in timely fashion carried out a landing operation in Abkhazia. This is the first time it has engaged in action since the Great Patriotic War.
As for the political situation, it is rather favorable. Apart from Georgia itself, only the United States, the Baltic nations, and Poland are obviously hostile towards Russia. The majority of states are urging both sides to cease-fire and return to the prewar situation. Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has done a very good job of upholding Moscow's position, rebutting accusations of aggression, and preventing the formation of an anti-Russian coalition.
It is hard to make forecasts in a constantly changing situation, but from what information we have it seems that Russia's main goal is to destroy Georgia's military equipment and infrastructure, and deprive it of the ability to engage in active military operations. Russia is likely to continue bombing installations on Georgian territory, oust the Georgian troops from South Ossetia, and create a security belt around it, and around Abkhazia. At the same time, Russia will be limited in using heavy artillery for the reasons mentioned above.
It is clear that the anti-Russian coalition does not exist. The operation is likely to be completed in the next few days, after which talks will be resumed. The future of the Georgian leadership is the most interesting political issue. Some experts believe that Russia may demand extradition of some Georgian leaders for a trial. To sum up, Russia's actions have been undoubtedly positive. It has demonstrated its readiness to use all means, including armed force, for the protection of its citizens and national interests.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.