Russian air forces have dropped at least two bombs on the Georgian military base at Vaziani, near Georgia's capital. The strike is a none-too-subtle message to Georgia and to the United States.
Russian air forces have dropped at least two bombs on the Georgian military base at Vaziani, near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Establishing air superiority certainly requires targeting air and anti-aircraft assets that are not immediately within a conflict zone, but Vaziani is roughly 75 miles away from Tskhinvali, the capital and main city in the separatist region of South Ossetia. There are four reasons to target the Vaziani base. First, intimidation. Vaziani is very close to the Georgian capital, and the emotional impact of striking it, for the Georgians, is palpable. Second, a reminder. Vaziani used to be a Soviet headquarters, and Russian forces maintained control of it until just a few years ago. Bombing it reminds the Georgians that the Russians still hold the power even without a base in Georgia proper. Third, a warning. Vaziani is the site of U.S. training operations for Georgian forces. Striking at the base — but not hitting occupied buildings — is a blunt warning to the United States not to get involved. And it certainly drives home to the Georgians how little the Americans can help. Finally, keeping another option open. Russia leads the world in airborne force deployment, and Vaziani is a potential target should the Russians decide that the time has come to overthrow the Georgian government.