Cablegate: Georgia: South Ossetia, Sitrep 6
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1355/01 2240928
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 110928Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9884
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001355
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIA, SITREP 6
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B...
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001355 SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/CARC E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2018 TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIA, SITREP 6 Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C) Summary and Comment: French FM Kouchner and Finnish FM Stubbs met with President Saakashvili August 11 in Tbilisi to discuss a cease-fire package, with the goal of presenting it to Russian officials in Moscow later the same day. Swedish FM Carl Bildt and EUR DAS Bryza are both expected to arrive in Tbilisi August 11. MOD officials who briefed the diplomatic corps on August 11 on myriad locations which were bombed during the last 24 hours. They relayed that President Saakashvili last evening had announced that Georgia had agreed to sign a non-use of force agreement. UNOMIG observers report that regular Russian army units are now on the ground in Zugdidi and have surrounded the police station, demanding that Georgian police give up their weapons. The Armenian Ambassador has urged Georgian officials to widely publicize that the Russian Air sorties striking inside Georgia have not emanated from Russian air bases in Armenia. August 10 visits revealed that two Tbilisi hospitals are seeing about 400 casualties each, their patients a combination of special forces, regular units and civilians. Gosselin Caucasus and Central Asia, a shipping company, announced that all port operations are canceled in Georgia. IDPs who have been displaced from Gori have shown up at U.S. Embassy housing in Didi Dighomi asking for assistance and waiting on the porches asking for entry. Tbilisi police succeeded in getting the IDP's to depart and are now guarding the properties. The Embassy's second convoy of Embassy dependents and more than 100 private Amcits departed Tbilisi for Yerevan at 1330 local time.
2. (C) Comment: It is increasingly difficult to get an accurate analysis of the military situation because of the fog of war and the fact that the Georgian command and control system has broken down. Senior government officials sometimes give us different reports of military action. End Summary and Comment.
Russian Regular in Zugdidi ---------------------------
3. (C) On August 11 Georgian Ministry of Defense officials briefed the diplomatic community at the Marriott Hotel. They chose the hotel as the venue as they were concerned for the safety of those attending. Spokesmen announced that on August 10 President Saakashvili had agreed to Russian demands to sign a non-use of force agreement against South Ossetia. Georgian forces have withdrawn from the Conflict Zone to Gori. It appears that there currently are no Russian forces in the city, but the Deputy CHOD (and press reports) indicate that Russian forces have come across the line from South Ossetia. MOD Spokesmen said that Russian Regular army units have arrived in Zugdidi, surrounded the police station, and are demanding that Georgian police hand over all weapons. Minister for Reintegration Yakobashvili reported the same to the Ambassador. UNOMIG observers confirmed that they saw first hand two companies of Russian Regular ground forces in Zugdidi which had joined Russian PKF troops. Unconfirmed reports suggest that a battalion of Russian reinforcements may be en route or already at Urta. UNOMIG representatives told Poloff that the Russian sources had brushed aside their observers.
Latest Targets -------------- 4. (C) MOD spokesmen relayed that the following locations/targets had been struck in the last 24 hour period and said 30-50 Russian aircraft had violated Georgian airspace: - Batumi - Khelvachauri - Senaki runway--now totally destroyed - Kodori (although Georgians still control this) - Shiraki airdrome (Kakheti region) - Special Forces at Vashli Gvari - Stepantsminda - Areas which border Azerbaijan and Armenia - Tbilisi Civilian Radio Tower and localizer (the backup is now operative) - Georgian Air Operations Center (Makhata Mountain) which records civil flights for the Tbilisi International Airport. (Embassy Note: The system is still partially operative, which means that flights can still arrive at the airport, but may limit the number of flights able to arrive at one time. Many in the Embassy community and Tbilisi clearly heard this explosion at approximately 0440 Tbilisi time. End note.) Armenia: RF Jets Not from Armenian Bases ---------------------------------------- TBILISI 00001355 002 OF 002 5. (C) The Armenian Ambassador to Georgia asked the MoD to distribute widely the fact that Russian Aircraft that have been striking inside Georgia are not flying out of Russian bases in Armenia. He also asked about the 21st provision in the Georgian Constitution which prohibits the Georgians from transiting Azeri/Armenian border with military hardware/equipment had been amended in light of the current situation. MoD spokesmen said that no amendments or decrees to this affect have been made.
OSCE Update -----------
6. (C) OSCE military representative Steve Young told us that he was on the ground August 10 in the Zone of Conflict. He reports that the majority of Georgian forces are south of Megrakisi and Variani but there are still pockets in Avnevi which are operating against the "Road of Life" which has served at the link between South Ossetia and Russia. The Road of Life is west of Tskhinvali. Young also told us that Gori and villages north of Gori have been partially evacuated.
7. (C) Post Medical Officer visited Republican Hospital and Gudushauri Medical Centers in Tbilisi on August 10. Both reported receiving about 400 casualties each with only one death reported at Gudushauri. The vast majority of the wounded re regular, spcial forces, and internal ministry troops/personnel, although approximately 40 reservists were seen at Gudushauri. Most wounds are extremity injuries with a significant number of amputations as a result. Both hospitals reported having enough medical supplies on hand, although Republican Hospital reported needing extra beds earlier in the day, but by the afternoon had managed to find some. Both emergency rooms seemed to be flowing well and not chaotic. Scores of people were waiting outside Republican Hospital. The Director of the Gudusharuri hospital reported that the military hospital was operational. The Minister of Health on the same date briefed that the death toll has reached 92, and the number of heavily wounded is growing.
Ordinary Citizens Request Help ------------------------------
8. (C) On August 10 at 1830, six Georgian citizens led by XXXXXXXXXXXX, no party affiliation, from Tbilisi gathered outside the embassy asking U.S. assistance to help protect the independence of Georgia, and military assistance to protect private citizens against Russian aggression.
Port Blockade ------------- 9. (C) John Braeckeveldt, Coordinator, Gosselin Caucasus and Central Asia, notified all Embassies on August 11 that currently all the port operations are canceled in Georgia which makes it very difficult to ship out and import. (Comment: If the port stays closed for an extended period, this could affect Embassy operations. End Comment.) TEFFT