08TBILISI1386, GEORGIA: DAS BRYZA MEETING WITH DEFENSE MINISTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1386 2008-08-18 13:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3053
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1386 2311342
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181342Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9911
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001386 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DAS BRYZA MEETING WITH DEFENSE MINISTER 
KEZERASHVILI 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1.  (C)  Begin Summary: On August 14, Minister of Defense 
David Kezerashvili spoke with DAS Bryza, the Ambassador, and 
DATT about the MOD's current situation following Russia's 
invasion.  Kezerashvili said Georgia's army troops are now at 
Vaziani and other bases around Tbilisi, trying to regroup. 
They have little equipment left.  He said President Bush's 
August 11 speech had given a great boost to his troops' 
morale.  Kezerashvili acknowledged that Russian forces were 
in Gori, and said they were mining the MOD's new base there. 
In discussing events in Tskhinvali, he said that Georgia's 
efforts not to target civilians were transparent.  He claimed 
Russia targeted civilians in Gori and Tskhinvali with Tu-22 
Backfire bombers, and those planes used "a lot of bombs." 
Kezerashvili says 30 soldiers were killed in action and 400 
were wounded during the Russian counterattack and bombing of 
Tskhinvali.  DAS Bryza urged Kezerashvili to explain publicly 
how the escalation occurred during the night of August 7. 
End Summary. 
 
2. (C) Kezerashvili said Georgia's army troops are now at 
Vaziani and other bases around Tbilisi, trying to regroup. 
They have little equipment left.  He said some troops fought 
well but others were less effective and left as the fight 
wore on.  He did not provide estimates of how many troops 
were remaining.  (Embassy note:  We understand that some 
troops left their units after returning to Tbilisi to check 
on their families, but in the days since the meeting, many 
soldiers have rejoined their companies.  End Note.) 
Kezerashvili said President Bush's August 11 speech had given 
a great boost to his troops' morale.  He said the troops had 
been asking, where are the Americans?  Kezerashvili told us 
he had heard a column of Russian troops had turned around 
after Bush's speech. 
 
3. (C) Kezerashvili said there were now 20,000 Russian troops 
in Georgia, with many tanks and much equipment.  He claimed 
they were mining the military base in Gori.  (Note: Russian 
troops or irregulars also set fire to the new barracks at the 
base.  End note.) 
 
4. (C) In Tskhinvali, Kezerashvili said that the South 
Ossetians destroyed the village of Avnevi with artillery, and 
began targeting checkpoints near Russian peacekeepers with 
122-mm mortars during the cease-fire on August 7.  When the 
firing continued, the Georgians began to return fire. 
Kezerashvili was clear in arguing that no order was given 
from the Georgian side to target civilians in Tskhinvali - he 
said that "anyone can check this information."  Rather, they 
attacked de-facto government buildings (including Parliament, 
MOIA, and MOD facilities) that were housing Ossetian militia. 
 
 
5. (C) After the Georgians attacked, Kezerashvili claimed 
Russia targeted civilians in Gori and Tskhinvali with Tu-22 
Backfire bombers.  He said the Backfires targeted 95 percent 
civilian targets and dropped at least 150 bombs on 
Tskhinvali.  In addition, Backfires targeted Gori, Poti, and 
other cities.  Kezerashvili alleged that Iskander missiles 
(SS-26) were fired at Gori and the Baku-Supsa pipeline near 
Rustavi.  (Embassy note:  Photographs of the Iskander near 
the Baku-Supsa pipeline were provided by the Georgian 
Government and shared with the Task Force.  End note.) 
According to Kezerashvili, Georgian MOD troops shot down 17 
airplanes and 3 helicopters.  The airplanes included Su-24, 
Su-25, and Su-27 jets, and two reconnaissance planes. 
Kezerashvili claimed that he lost 30 soldiers KIA and 400 
wounded from the Russian bombing and counterattack in 
Tskhinvali. 
TEFFT

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