International

Medvedev accused of flinching during Georgia war

A file picture of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Madvedev during a government meeting in Moscow.  

Russia’s former top-ranking generals have accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of indecision and cowardice during Georgia’s aggression in 2008, when he was President.

The allegations are made in a documentary that recalls the events of August 7 and 8, 2008, when Georgia attacked its breakaway territory of South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers in the region.

The generals said Mr Medvedev as Supreme Commander hesitated for too long before issuing orders to repulse the Georgian attack, which led to the loss of more lives.

Mr Medvedev was “afraid of taking responsibility” and did not give the order to repulse Georgia’s attack till then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave him “a kick in the backside,” according to Army General Yuri Baluyevsky, who headed the General Staff in 2004-2008.

“All the Supreme Commander had to do was to say: ‘Act in accordance with the plan I have approved’,” said Gen. Baluyevsky. The plan, drafted before Mr Putin stepped down as President in May 2008, called for the Russian armed forces to react “as soon as the first shell or bomb is fired,” the former General Staff chief asserted in the 47-minute documentary called “The Lost Day.”

A seven-minute preview of the film with the headline, “Medvedev’s Cowardice Killed 1,000 People,” was posted on YouTube on the fourth anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war.

Had the order to counter-attack been given on time, “the loss of lives would have been far less,” Gen. Baluyevsky added.

Russia routed the Georgian army in a five-day war, losing 67 servicemen, four aircraft and dozens of armoured vehicles, according to official information. South Ossetia lost 1,600 civilians.

The testimony of the former Chief of the General Staff is supported in the film by other top military commanders who took part in the war with Georgia.

“The well-oiled mechanism of beating back the Georgian aggression failed at the very top level at the most crucial moment,” said Colonel General Sergei Makarov, former commander of the North-Caucasus forces.

Asked to comment on the documentary Mr Putin, who reclaimed presidency three months ago, said that the Russian leadership weighed the option of using armed forces for “three days” in the run-up to Georgia’s attack on Ossetia because “one needs to think before making such decisions.”

Experts thought the scandalous film would not have appeared without Mr Putin’s approval.

“This is a sign of heating up infighting at the top designed to weaken Medvedev’s positions,” said political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 10:31:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/medvedev-accused-of-flinching-during-georgia-war/article3742664.ece

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