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Russia Waged a Covert War Against Georgia Since 2004

2:04 PM, Dec 3, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Eli Lake reports in today's Washington Times

Russia waged a covert war against Georgia that included missile attacks, arms shipments to anti-government rebels and car bombings since 2004, a newly disclosed U.S. Embassy cable says.

Among the secret war operations were a 2007 helicopter gunship attack on the headquarters of a pro-government group in the Georgian province of Abkhazia, and the murder of Georgian police officers in the town of Gory. Known inside the Russian security services as "active measures," the tactics employed against Georgia included political disinformation campaigns, industrial sabotage and assassinations.

"The variety and extent of the active measures suggests the deeper goal is turning Georgia from its Euroatlantic orientation back into the Russian fold," said the cable, signed by the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, John Tefft.

Further leaked cables show that Russia continues to flout the 2008 ceasefire agreement brokered by France's Nicolas Sarkozy: Russian troops aren't just massing inside the occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, they're actively running military patrols inside sovereign Georgian territory. 

Lake's piece is a narrative buster. For the past two years, a growing false narrative has emerged about how the Russian invasion was morally reprehensible but ultimately "provoked by the Georgians." This is concrete evidence that in the face of assaininations, gunship attacks, sabotage, and other deliberate acts of war, the Georgians showed an amazing level of restraint.  

There's the Russian policy angle, too. The Obama administration has pushed the so-called "reset" policy with Russia from the very beginning. But for what? Since the State Department announced "reset" two years ago, the Russians have openly reneged on the Sarkozy-brokered ceasefire and increased the occupational presence of an important U.S. ally, labored to bring an Iranian nuclear reactor online, increased long-range strategic bomber flights near U.S. airspace, named the NATO alliance its "number one security threat," sold weapons and arms to avowed enemies of the U.S., used its energy reserves to blackmail our European friends, interfered with free and fair elections in neighboring states, and just recently redeployed tactical nuclear weapons to their western frontier. 

In exchange, we get a few supply flights over Russian airspace into Afghanistan, an agreement to block a shipment of surface-to-air missiles to Iran, and a sharing agreement on European missile defense that we never needed in the first place. 

Now is the time to see if "reset" can actually work, and deliver meaningful results -- like the immediate egress of Russian forces from Georgia. It's time for Moscow to start living up to its end of the bargain.

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