Monday, August 11, 2008

Georgia In Trouble

AP reports that Russian mechanized forces have seized a "base" in Senaki, Georgia, about twenty miles from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti. The base (whatever kind it might be) is much, much less important than where Senaki is.
Have a look at the splendid map, above (kedged off of Belmont Club). If the report is correct, and the Russian forces are in Senaki in force, they have cut off one of Georgia’s two rail links to its Black Sea Ports – they are sitting directly on the T'bilisi-Poti line. Moreover, the town of Samtredia is about fifteen miles further southeast. Two river crossings will be required, but presumably the Russian Ground Forces can find the requisite engineers and pontoons.
Moreover, Samtredia is just within range of the 152mm self-propelled guns (there are several types) which accompany Russian mechanized formations, and some types of Russian rocket artillery. Samtredia is important because it contains the other important rail-link in western Georgia – to Batumi – the country’s other major Black Sea port. All the Russians need to do is make the line economically unusable, not knock it out entirely.
I find it interesting that the Russians have managed to advance in the west, down the road from Och'amch'ire (in Abkhazia) so quickly. Possibly Georgian forces in that area are thinned out, perhaps to support the front towards Ossetia, or guarding the ports from descents by sea.
Further, this western advance by the Russians is more evidence, if such were needed, that a massive intelligence failure has occured -- both on the Georgian side, and on the part of Georgia's patron, the United States. The AP report indicates that the troops in Senaki are mechanized troops, so it is unlikely they came to Abkhazia by sea. Given the poor state of readiness of most of the Russian military, and the isolated nature of the axis of advance from Abkhazia (on the south side of some very rough mountains, traversable by bad roads) this is further indication that this campaign was set up well in advance by the Russians. Mechanized columns are voracious drinkers of fuel and users of tons of other supplies. Fuel and consumables would have to be moved in and dumped far in advance, and units assembled. How have the Georgians (and their American friends) been caught so obviously flat-footed?

In any event, depending on how close Russian forces are to Gori (Stalin’s birthplace), through which the rail links to Bat’umi and Poti pass, Georgia may already be strategically cut in two, so the concern over the western ports may well be academic. If the Georgians cannot get the Russians out of rocket and artillery range of the railroad (and I find this unlikely), then they are finished, and must sue for peace on whatever terms they can get, now.
Until Georgia can obtain terms...the attitude of the Armenians and Azerbajanis, sitting on Georgia's last un-interdicted rail links to the outside world (south and east of T'bilisi) will become increasingly important.
UPDATE: (12:15 p.m.). AP reports that the Georgian government claims that Gori has fallen to the Russians. This is a clue to where the missing Georgian forces in the west were (see above) -- probably fighting for Gori.

7 comments:

louielouie said...

......i thought of something after EJM I made his initial posting of the invasion last week.
you know what georgia should do?
file a lawsuit.
that's right, send the lawyers to the border or to moscow to file a lawsuit against putin.
as EJM I always talks about being all lawyered up, this would, no doubt, have an immediate impact as the russian bear would cave-in to international pressure.
that's right.
send all the lawyers to the georgia/russo border.
geez, do i have to think of everything?

El Jefe Maximo said...

To really make a big impression, they have to get lawyered up, and get some celebrities on board.

louielouie said...

have you seen this? what the heck am i asking for, of course you've seen it. you see everything. i suppose that's why we call you EJM I

i wonder which side hussein is on in this fight?
i wonder if hussein will fly to moscow to talk to putin?
you know that is what powerful countries do. they talk.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Well, caught with your pants down, there is little else to do but talk.

The Russians have come off well...if they don't push it. IF they seek the total destruction of Georgia, they will pay in some other way. US troops in the Baltic States anyone? The Russians are going to win their point, because Georgia blundered into a Bear Trap. But the Russians would be wise to stop.

Russia is stronger than it was, but it is not the Soviet Union.

louielouie said...

i wonder what fred thompson would say?

louielouie said...

the link didn't work.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Hunt for Red October. I like that one, Thompson as the folksy admiral (mostly the same role he plays in Law and Order sometimes, this time with his very New England flag- captain who disapproves of cloak-and-dagger dreessed in Navy Blue, and Smart Alec Baldwin (who I hate, hate, hate in the role) as Jack Ryan (Han Solo Ford was better).

Nothing to say at this point: time to make the best of a bad job.