Thus, hostilities in South Ossetia were stopped. Russia demonstrated its ability to defend national interests but, unfortunately, it paid a big price.
Some mass media reported that Moscow had an inadequately soft policy towards Tbilisi lately. For instance, it easily agreed with the early withdrawal of its military group from Georgia leaving the military infrastructure almost intact. Georgian aggressors used it efficiently for the buildup of their military might (for example, the tank repair and the aircraft building plants in Tbilisi). Moscow continued military cooperation with Tbilisi and did not prevent the regime of Saakashvili from arming itself.
Even more interesting, while expecting military aggression of Georgia in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the military leadership of Russia did not take into account all possible consequences of this. As a result, there were unjustified big losses in manpower, armored vehicles and airplanes. Lieutenant General Yury Netkachev, who was deputy commander of the group of Russian forces in Transcaucasia between 1993 and 2000, wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, “it is already clear that Russian authorities and the General Staff have underestimated the Georgian aggressor. Combat capability and activeness manifested by Georgian troops unveils the myth that they are a colossus with feet of clay, as our Russian officers have often said.”
Netkachev and other analysts are especially impressed by the significant losses in aviation.
The general asks, “why did our command not take into account that Georgian troops might have an efficient air defenses?” He adds, “I know for sure that three or four years ago Georgian troops did not have skillful air defense specialists and trained pilots for Su-25. Where did they come from so quickly? The answer is unambiguous: they are mercenaries.” Netkachev presumed that most likely these were mercenaries from Ukraine.
This conclusion is confirmed indirectly by information from the Russian Defense Ministry. As of August 11, that is in three days of hostilities, the Russian Air Force lost three airplanes, namely one missile-carrying bomber Tu-22 and three attack airplanes Su-25. Sources in the Russian Defense Ministry reported to WPS that various air defense systems were used against Russian airplanes on the part of Georgia. Among them were air defense missile systems S-200 supplied to the regime of Saakashvili in 2006. Ukrainian specialists or advisors possibly operated them. Petr Deinekin, Commander of the Russian Air Force between 1991 and 1998, said that he was very upset because since the beginning of hostilities, Russian forces were not able to destroy Georgian air defense assets. Deinekin also told WPS that another drawback was that the Air Force organized the search and rescue service inefficiently as a result of which pilots of the downed airplanes were captured.
In turn, Lieutenant General Aitech Bizhev, who was Deputy Commander of the Russian Air Force for the united air defense system of the CIS between 2003 and 2007, also said that mercenaries helped Georgia in the destruction of Russian military airplanes because Georgia had never had its own specialists. According to the general, a few months ago Georgia withdrew from the bilateral agreement with the Russian Defense Ministry in the field of air defense. Bizhev added that representatives of Georgia did not participate in any collective events since the establishment of the united air defense system of the CIS “because they did not have forces and means for this.”
Bizhev added, “they sent their officers to see how we organized our exercises several times.” At any rate, Georgia has not had and evidently does not have any real air defense specialists. This means that the skies of Georgia has been defended by mercenaries.
It turns out that due to them, the air defense forces of Georgia are very combat capable. This is evidently a revelation for our Armed Forces and, unfortunately, they have paid for this revelation with blood.