Last week’s vague threats by Russia’s defense establishment to launch pre-emptive attacks against foreign terrorist bases may be intended to lay the groundwork for military strikes, or at least heightened political pressure, against Georgia. Ivan Yartsev observed in a September 10 commentary for the Politcom.ru website that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already stated that the Beslan tragedy in North Ossetia is connected with events in neighboring South Ossetia, the secession-minded province of Georgia.
Yartsev wrote that “anonymous sources in Russia’s security agencies” have accused Georgia of being “almost directly to blame for the tragedy in Beslan. Allegedly all the operations of the guerrillas are financed and directed not from within Russia but from some foreign center—which most likely is located in Georgia.” This propaganda campaign against Georgia, suggested Yartsev, might lead to a military campaign for the stated purpose of destroying “terrorist infrastructures” in that country. A milder option might be to proclaim that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are now Russian protectorates—again, ostensibly for the purpose of fighting terrorism.