Archive for Khazar

Archaeologist claims to find lost Khazar capital

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , on September 22, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

The Associated Press
September 21, 2008MOSCOW – A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.

By law Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said. The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.

“The discovery of the capital of Eastern Europe’s first feudal state is of great significance,” he told The Associated Press. “We should view it as part of Russian history.”

Kevin Brook, the American author of “The Jews of Khazaria,” e-mailed Wednesday that he has followed the Itil dig over the years, and even though it has yielded no Jewish artifacts, “Now I’m as confident as the archaeological team is that they’ve truly found the long-lost city.”

Ruling nomadic tribe

The Khazars were a Turkic tribe that roamed the steppes from Northern China to the Black Sea. Between the 7th and 10th centuries they conquered huge swaths of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine, the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia as far as the Aral Sea.

Itil, about 800 miles south of Moscow, had a population of up to 60,000 and occupied 0.8 square miles of marshy plains southwest of the Russian Caspian Sea port of Astrakhan, Vasilyev said.

It lay at a major junction of the Silk Road, the trade route between Europe and China, which “helped Khazars amass giant profits,” he said.

The Khazar empire was once a regional superpower, and Vasilyev said his team has found “luxurious collections” of well-preserved ceramics that help identify cultural ties of the Khazar state with Europe, the Byzantine Empire and even Northern Africa. They also found armor, wooden kitchenware, glass lamps and cups, jewelry and vessels for transporting precious balms dating back to the eighth and ninth centuries, he said.

‘We know almost nothing’

But a scholar in Israel, while calling the excavations interesting, said the challenge was to find Khazar inscriptions.

“If they found a few buildings, or remains of buildings, that’s interesting but does not make a big difference,” said Dr. Simon Kraiz, an expert on Eastern European Jewry at Haifa University. “If they found Khazar writings, that would be very important.”

Vasilyev says no Jewish artifacts have been found at the site, and in general, most of what is known about the Khazars comes from chroniclers from other, sometimes competing cultures and empires.

“We know a lot about them, and yet we know almost nothing: Jews wrote about them, and so did Russians, Georgians, and Armenians, to name a few,” said Kraiz. “But from the Khazars themselves we have nearly nothing.”

‘Russia is a successor’

The Khazars’ ruling dynasty and nobility converted to Judaism sometime in the 8th or 9th centuries. Vasilyev said the limited number of Jewish religious artifacts such as mezuzas and Stars of David found at other Khazar sites prove that ordinary Khazars preferred traditional beliefs such as shamanism, or newly introduced religions including Islam.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, director of the Middle Eastern Institute in Moscow, said he believes the Khazar elite chose Judaism out of political expediency — to remain independent of neighboring Muslim and Christian states. “They embraced Judaism because they wanted to remain neutral, like Switzerland these days,” he said.

In particular, he said, the Khazars opposed the Arab advance into the Caucasus Mountains and were instrumental in containing a Muslim push toward eastern Europe. He compared their role in eastern Europe to that of the French knights who defeated Arab forces at the Battle of Tours in France in 732.

The Khazars succeeded in holding off the Arabs, but a young, expanding Russian state vanquished the Khazar empire in the late 10th century. Medieval Russian epic poems mention Russian warriors fighting the “Jewish Giant.”

“In many ways, Russia is a successor of the Khazar state,” Vasilyev said.

Traces of conquest

He said his dig revealed traces of a large fire that was probably caused by the Russian conquest. He said Itil was rebuilt following the fall of the Khazar empire, when ethnic Khazars were slowly assimilated by Turkic-speaking tribes, Tatars and Mongols, who inhabited the city until it was flooded by the rising Caspian Sea around the 14th century.

The study of the Khazar empire was discouraged in the Soviet Union. The dictator Josef Stalin, in particular, detested the idea that a Jewish empire had come before Russia’s own. He ordered references to Khazar history removed from textbooks because they “disproved his theory of Russian statehood,” Satanovsky said.

Only now are Russian scholars free to explore Khazar culture. The Itil excavations have been sponsored by the Russian-Jewish Congress, a nonprofit organization that supports cultural projects in Russia.

“Khazar studies are just beginning,” Satanovsky said.

Archaeologist claims to find lost Khazar capital

The Khazarian Empire strikes back

Posted in Breaking it Down! with tags on August 11, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

GeorgiaAccording to the well known Mossad news agency Debka Israel aids Georgia by military advisers, logistics, and Israel’s “interest” in the conflict from military sources.Also reports filtering out of the Georgia South Ossetia are claiming that “foreign fighters” have been found among dead Georgia troops. Eyewitnesses are telling Russian reporters that the bodies of “foreignes” wearing “black uniforms” (Blackwater) have been found among Georgian dead. European Tribune

a former Russian ambassador, said on Al jazeera Arabic on Sunday, August 10, 2008 , “Israel supplied and trained Georgia in the Conflict, he spoke in detail about the Israeli connection and reasons being outwardly Oil & Gas but it is strategic Control of the region”, he was cut off then later returned and did not mention Israel again. The former ambassador ‘s Israel Mention was omitted from the English report.

The South Ossetian government is claiming that the Georgian government employed mercenaries in their attack on the city of Tskhinvali.

Authorities in the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia claim that dark-skinned mercenaries took part in the attack on Tskhinvali, reports RIA Novosti, citing representative of the South Ossetian president in Russia Dmitry Medoev. He said there were bodies of many Georgian soldiers on the streets on Tskhinvali. “There were blacks among the dead, who were probably either mercenaries or instructors in the Georgian armed forces,” Medoev said.

Wait, it gets better.

Old Blackwater keep on rollin’?

In a phone interview with Russian media, the South Ossetian representative in Moscow indicated that the Georgian government has been employing foreign nationals in the fighting. In addition to the two black soldiers described above, they are suggesting that the lead tanks in the attack were crewed by Ukrainians.

If either of these charges is accurate, then the its likely that the conflict is going to grow more complex. The involvement of Ukrainian soldiers would threaten to involve that country in the fighting. Much of the eastern third of Ukraine is ethnically Russian and desires greater ties with Moscow not the West. One of the most visible aspects of that is the use of Russian, not Ukrainian as the language they prefer to communicate in. The map below shows the results of a 2003 KIIS (Kiev Institute of International Sociology) survey of language preference in the country.

There’s a Russian speaking swath here that extends from Kharkov and Donetsk in the East all the way west to the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria. The Ukrainian government looks on Moscow with a wary because of this, and ethnic intrigue is a core part of Ukrainian politics. The have a reason to avoid allowing the Russians to set a precedent that they may act to protect ethnic enclaves in CIS states.

While the last thing that the world needs is a conflict in which the former Soviet Republics form into rival, armed blocs, I’m much more concerned about the possibility that Blackwater might have been involved in the Georgian attack. While the the South Ossetian representative in Moscow suggests that the bodies of dead soldiers were black, an interview by Russian media with a first hand observer suggests that there was a misunderstanding.

(Skip to 10 min 30 secs, and yes I have to give Alex Jones a hat tip for a lot of the info in this section of my diary.)

In the video above a women being interviewed in Tskhinvali tells the reporter that:

There are also bodies over there. People that have been killed, mostly Ossetians, but also Georgians that had American emblems on the forearms and they were in black uniforms.

I was suspicious when I first heard this story, because it came from Infowars. However this checks out. It seems very, very likely that there are Blackwater personnel fighting in Georgia against Russian soldiers. This is so wrong in so many ways.

First, this has the potential to involved the United States in a fight against the choosing of our elected government because a bunch of *censored*wits want to go play soldier of fortune. If they are in fact Blackwater, why they hell are they wearing American emblems. What right do they have to claim the protection of the US government while fighting in a war to which we are not a party?

Actually, this sort of makes me happy, because at this point thy officially meet the legal definition of something that we’ve always know them to be: Mercenaries.

Let me explain.

The privatization of military force is one of my areas of interest. It’s another symptom of the horrible type of capitalism that our society has been infected by. As the title of one book title called it “Everything for Sale.”

There is no room for the sacred, and the use of lethal force is such a great threat to the preservation of human life that there must be strict limits on its use. There must be rules, not the vague incentives of the market. And ultimately it’ a small twist of the law that has turned the Blackwater corporation into a criminal entity. The same twist of the law that allowed them to avoid the fate of Sandline, Executive Outcomes, and the other mercenary organizations that operated in Africa during the 1990’s.

International law is very specific in defining whom is a mercenary and thus does not have the rights of a lawful combatant. Article 47 of Protocol I (1977)to the Geneva Conventions

Art 47. Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

2. A mercenary is any person who:
(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

Blackwater and the other Private Security Corporations operating in Iraq have only been able to avoid designation as a mercenary organization as the result of a very specific section of this definition. Article 47 (2) d: “is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict.”

At the beginning of the Iraq War, Blackwater and other firms got themselves into trouble because they had hired a bunch of ex security forces guys from South Africa and Chile. Those individuals met the definition of mercenaries, but the firm itself being American (yes, I know that they aren’t officially headquartered in the US) was in the clear.

The US was a party to the Iraq War. If it is in fact true that Blackwater is sending US nationals to fight in Georgia on behalf of the Georgian government, then they’ve crossed the line. They have become mercenaries, because they are “neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict.”

Maybe old Blackwater ain’t going to keep on rolling away after all.

In opening itself to the charge of being a mercenary organization it may become what is none as Hostis humani generis.

Hostis humani generis (Latin for “enemy of mankind”) is a legal term of art, originating from the admiralty law, and referring to the peculiar status, before the public international law, of maritime pirates, since time immemorial, and slavers, since the 18th century. It is also used in the present to describe the status of torturers….

It is considered an offense of universal jurisdiction, such that any state may board and seize a ship engaged in piracy, and any state may try a pirate and impose sanctions according to that state’s own law. Piracy is defined in Article 101 of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the 1958 Convention on the High Seas also regulates this exercise of jurisdiction. Under the same principles, these treaties, as well as the customary international law, allow states to act similarly against slavers on the high seas.

This has been the legal justification offered by the Bush administration for why prisoners at Guatanamo are not to be afforded the status of prisoners of war.

If Blackwater is operating in Georgia, their personnel are not going to have legal status are combatants. Being mercenaries, they are unlawful combatants, and thus hold the same legal status that the US applies to Al Qaeda.

And while I don’t think that there’s case law against a mercenary firm, I think that a strong case can be made that the Blackwater corporation must face the same charges that apply to those they appear to have sent to fight in Georgia.

Do you think that the Bush Admnistration will take appropriate action?

Israel backs Georgia in Caspian Oil Pipeline Battle with Russia
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
August 8, 2008, 4:26 PM (GMT+02:00)
Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, Aug. 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin threatened a “military response.”

Former Soviet Georgia called up its military reserves after Russian warplanes bombed its new positions in the renegade province.

In Moscow’s first response to the fall of Tskhinvali, president Dimitry Medvedev ordered the Russian army to prepare for a national emergency after calling the UN Security Council into emergency session early Friday.
Reinforcements were rushed to the Russian “peacekeeping force” present in the region to support the separatists.
Georgian tanks entered the capital after heavy overnight heavy aerial strikes, in which dozens of people were killed.

Lado Gurgenidze, Georgia’s prime minister, said on Friday that Georgia will continue its military operation in South Ossetia until a “durable peace” is reached. “As soon as a durable peace takes hold we need to move forward with dialogue and peaceful negotiations.”
DEBKAfile’s geopolitical experts note that on the surface level, the Russians are backing the separatists of S. Ossetia and neighboring Abkhazia as payback for the strengthening of American influence in tiny Georgia and its 4.5 million inhabitants. However, more immediately, the conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region.

The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.

Saakashvili need only back away from this plan for Moscow to ditch the two provinces’ revolt against Tbilisi. As long as he sticks to his guns, South Ossetia and Abkhazia will wage separatist wars.

DEBKAfile discloses Israel’s interest in the conflict from its exclusive military sources:

Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean.

Aware of Moscow’s sensitivity on the oil question, Israel offered Russia a stake in the project but was rejected.

Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday.

In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia, finally threatening a crisis in bilateral relations. Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilisi was “defensive.”

This has not gone down well in the Kremlin. Therefore, as the military crisis intensifies in South Ossetia, Moscow may be expected to punish Israel for its intervention.

Russia seizes Georgia base, opens second front

Russia opened a second front of fighting in Georgia on Monday, sending armored vehicles beyond two breakaway provinces and seizing a military base and police stations in the country’s west, the Georgian government and a Russian official said.

The new forays into Georgia – even as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on signed a cease-fire pledge – appeared to show Russian determination to subdue the small, U.S.-backed country, which has been pressing for NATO membership.

The latest developments indicate that Russian troops have invaded Georgia proper from the separatist province of Abkhazia while most Georgian forces are locked up in fighting around another breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The West has sharply criticized Russia’s military response to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia as disproportionate, and the world’s seven largest economic powers urged Russia on Monday to accept an immediate cease-fire and agree to international mediation.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations spoke by telephone and pledged their support for a negotiated solution to the conflict that has been raging since Friday between the former Soviet state and Russia, a State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the call had not yet been formally announced.

Nana Intskerveli, the Georgian Defense Ministry’s spokeswoman, said Russian armored personnel carriers rolled into the base in Senaki, about 20 miles inland from the Black Sea port of Poti.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Russian forces also took over police stations in the town of Zugdidi – about 20 miles from the base and also outside Abkhazia.

In Moscow, a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name, confirmed the move into Senaki and said it was intended to prevent Georgian troops from concentrating.

The move followed Russia’s warning to Georgian forces west of Abkhazia to lay down arms or face a Russian military action. Senaki is located about 30 miles east of the Inguri River, which separates Abkhazia from Georgia proper.

Update Posted on Mon, Aug. 11, 2008

Russia opens new front, drives deeper into Georgia


Associated Press Writers

Russian soldiers seen atop a military vehicle, somewhere in South Ossetia, Monday, Aug. 11, 2008.  Russian armored vehicles rolled deep into western Georgia on Monday, quickly taking control of several towns and a military base and slicing open a damaging second front in Russia's battle with Georgia.  Other Russian forces captured the key central city of Gori.
Musa Sadulayev
Russian soldiers seen atop a military vehicle, somewhere in South Ossetia, Monday, Aug. 11, 2008. Russian armored vehicles rolled deep into western Georgia on Monday, quickly taking control of several towns and a military base and slicing open a damaging second front in Russia’s battle with Georgia. Other Russian forces captured the key central city of Gori.

Russian tanks roared deep into Georgia on Monday, launching a new western front in the conflict, and Russian planes staged air raids that sent people screaming and fleeing for cover in some towns.

The escalating warfare brought sharp words from President Bush, who pressed Moscow to accept an immediate cease-fire and pull its troops out to avert a “dramatic and brutal escalation” of violence in the former Soviet republic.

Russian forces for the first time moved well outside the two restive, pro-Russian provinces claimed by Georgia that lie at the heart of the dispute. An Associated Press reporter saw Russian troops in control of government buildings in this town just miles from the frontier and Russian troops were reported in nearby Senaki.

Georgia’s president said his country had been sliced in half with the capture of a critical highway crossroads near the central city of Gori, and Russian warplanes launched new air raids across the country.

The Russian Defense Ministry, through news agencies, denied it had captured Gori and also denied any intentions to advance on the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

The western assault expanded the days-old war beyond the central breakaway region of South Ossetia, where a crackdown by Georgia last week drew a military response from Russia.

While most Georgian forces were still busy fighting there, Russian troops opened the western attack by invading from a second separatist province, Abkhazia, that occupies Georgia’s coastal northwest arm.

Russian forces moved into Senaki, 20 miles inland from the Black Sea, and seized police stations in Zugdidi, just outside the southern fringe of Abkhazia. Abkhazian allies took control of the nearby village of Kurga, according to witnesses and Georgian officials.

U.N. officials B. Lynn Pascoe and Edmond Mulet in New York, speaking at an emergency Security Council meeting asked for by Georgia, also confirmed that Russian troops have driven well beyond South Ossetia and Abkhazia, U.N. diplomats said on condition of anonymity because it was a closed session. They said Russian airborne troops were not meeting any resistance while taking control of Georgia’s Senaki army base.

“A full military invasion of Georgia is going on,” Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania told reporters later. “Now I think Security Council has to act.”

France also circulated a draft resolution calling for the “cessation of hostilities, and the complete withdrawal of Russian and Georgian forces” to prior positions. The council is expected to take up the draft proposal Tuesday.

The Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, told CNN late Monday that Russian forces were cleansing Abkhazia of ethnic Georgians.

“I directly accuse Russia of ethnic cleansing,” he said. At the U.N. on Friday, each side accused the other of ethnic cleansing.

By late Monday, Russian news agencies, citing the Defense Ministry, said troops had left Senaki “after liquidating the danger,” but did not give details.

Early Tuesday, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that separatist troops in Abkhazia started an operation to push Georgian forces out of the northern Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control. Interfax reported that Abkhazia defense headquarters said the offensive began about 2 a.m.

The new Russia assault came despite a claim earlier in the day by a top Russian general that Russia had no plans to enter undisputed Georgian territory.

Saakashvili earlier told a national security meeting Russia had also taken central Gori, which its on Georgia’s only east-west highway, cutting off the eastern half of the nation from the western Black Sea coast.

But the news agency Interfax cited a Russian Defense Ministry official as denying Gori was captured. Attempts to reach Gori residents by telephone late Monday did not go through.

Fighting also raged Monday around Tskhinvali, the capital of the separatist province of South Ossetia.

Even as Saakashvili signed a cease-fire pledge Monday with European mediators, Russia flexed its military muscle and appeared determined to subdue the small U.S. ally, which has been pressing for NATO membership.

“The bombs that are falling on us, they have an inscription on them: This is for NATO. This is for the U.S.,” Saakashvili told CNN.

Russia’s massive and multi-pronged offensive has drawn wide criticism from the West, but Russia has rejected calls for a cease-fire and said it was acted to protect its citizens. Most residents of the separatist regions have Russian passports.

In Zugdidi, an AP reporter saw five or six Russian soldiers posted outside an Interior Ministry building. Several tanks and other armored vehicles were moving through the town but the streets were nearly deserted. Shops, restaurants and banks were shut down.

In the city of Gori, an AP reporter heard artillery fire and Georgian soldiers warned locals to get out because Russian tanks were approaching. Hundreds of terrified residents fled toward Tbilisi, many trying to flag down passing cars.

An AP film crew saw Georgian tanks and military vehicles speeding along the road from Gori to Tbilisi. Firing began and people ran for cover. Cars could be seen in flames along the side of the road.

Both provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990, and both have close ties with Moscow.

When Georgia began its offensive to regain control over South Ossetia, the Russian response was swift and overpowering – thousands of troops and tanks poured in.

Georgia had pledged a cease-fire, but it rang hollow Monday. An AP reporter saw a small group of Georgian fighters open fire on a column of Russian and Ossetian military vehicles outside Tskhinvali, triggering a 30-minute battle. The Russians later said all the Georgians were killed.

Another AP reporter was in the village of Tkviavi, 7 1/2 miles south of Tskhinvali inside undisputed Georgian territory, when a bomb from a Russian warplane struck a house. The walls of neighboring buildings fell as screaming residents ran for cover. Eighteen people were wounded.

Hundreds of Georgian troops headed north Monday along the road toward Tskhinvali, pocked with tank regiments creeping up the highway into South Ossetia.

In a statement in the Rose Garden, Bush said there was an apparent attempt by Russia to unseat the pro-Western Saakashvili. He said further Russian action would conflict with Russian assurance its actions were meant to restore peace in the pro-Russian separatist areas.

Bush and other Western leaders have also complained that Russian warplanes – buzzing over Georgia since Friday – have bombed Georgian oil sites and factories far from the conflict zone.

The world’s seven largest economic powers urged Russia to accept an immediate cease-fire agree to international mediation.

Putin criticized the United States for viewing Georgia as the victim instead of the aggressor, and for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday.

“Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages,” Putin said in Moscow. “And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed ten Ossetian villages at once, who ran elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds – these leaders must be taken under protection.”

The U.S. military was informing Russia about the flights from Iraq to avoid mishaps, one military official said Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the subject on the record.

A Defense Department spokesman said the U.S. expected to have all Georgian troops out of Iraq by day’s end.

Pentagon officials said Monday that U.S. military was assessing the fighting every day to determine whether to pull the fewer than 100 remaining American trainers out of the country.

EU envoys were headed to Moscow to try to persuade Russia to accept a cease-fire. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he will meet Tuesday in Moscow with President Dmitri Medvedev and then travel to Tbilisi for a meeting with Saakashvili.

Saakashvili voiced concern Russia’s true goal was to undermine his pro-Western government. “It’s all about the independence and democracy of Georgia,” he said.

The Georgian president said Russia had sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia. He said Russian warplanes were bombing roads and bridges, destroying radar systems and targeting Tbilisi’s civilian airport. One Russian bombing raid struck the Tbilisi airport area only a half-hour before EU envoys arrived, he said.

Another hit near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported.

At least 9,000 Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles were in Abkhazia, according to a Russian military commander.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people have been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled Tskhinvali over the weekend said hundreds had been killed.

Many found shelter in the Russian province of North Ossetia.

“The Georgians burned all of our homes,” said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors. “The Georgians say it is their land. Where is our land, then?”

The Khazarian Empire strikes back