Last week, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili claimed to have presented “very solid proof” to the European Union that the Russians instigated last month’s brief conflict. Today, we finally have this evidence available for public scrutiny. It comes in the form of phone calls intercepted by Georgia before the war began.
The phone calls refer to Russian troop movements into South Ossetia on August 7th. Russia has dismissed the significance of the phone calls, insisting that the troop movements were just part of ordinary rotations of the peacekeepers stationed in the separatist province since the the early 1990’s. They also suggested that any “major” troop movement into South Ossetia as alleged by the Georgians would have been detected by NATO’s surveillance satellites, and thus far there has been no indication that this was the case. The phone calls do not specify the quantity of troops being moved.
But according to the Georgian government, the alleged Russian troop build-up was justification for Georgia’s attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali the following day, and proof that the attack was done in “self-defense”.
American Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker insists the events of August 7 don’t matter anyhow, that Georgia’s attack was the result of “a long period of Russian pressure,” and that Russia had readied its “pre-planned invasion” well before Georgia’s attack.