Russian Army Out of Control?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Why are Russian forces presently still occupying big swathes of vital Georgian territory, seemingly in defiance of the cease-fire brokered by EU president Nicolas Sarkozy and signed by both the Russian and Georgian governments? (I say “seemingly,” because I’ve read reports that, in the negotiations leading up to that cease-fire agreement, the Russian side managed to have language inserted that gave them some leeway to keep hold of some of that territory if in their judgment it was necessary for use as a buffer for their defense of South Ossetia.) One possible reason, that Gazeta Wyborcza raises today (Russian Army not completely subordinate?), is that the Red Army might not have been completely under the control of its political masters during its incursion into Georgia.

This specter of a renegade Red Army is a scary one, particularly for Poles, although the Polish daily does not claim any original research here. Rather, the article is devoted to recasting into Polish a report on this subject from yesterday’s Financial Times – to which, if you’re interested, I’ll just let you switch over here since it’s written in good Queen’s (business) English. Highlights are the way the Russian troops kept going even after the cease-fire was signed (with the military brass ticked off that their leaders in the Kremlin would not let them finish the job, i.e. destroy the Georgian army), and how they even set about establishing a police force for the occupied Georgian city of Gori – not really a military force’s task, quite apart from it’s being a clear sign of intent to stay there for a while – before that political yank-on-the-leash finally came down and they were ordered to evacuate Gori (but only to positions just outside).

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