News Cartographers Map Russia-Georgia War (Kelso)

Summary of Monday’s maps for the growing conflict between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the BBC.

When conflict hits over the weekend staffing often dictates how exhaustive the mapping coverage will be. Tuesday’s maps are proving to be more detailed in:

  1. coverage of war events,
  2. reference locations, and
  3. secondary context such as relief shading, landcover, population density, pipelines, etc

For background, from the Washington Post (disjointed):

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s and have formed close relations with Russia. Last week, Georgian forces launched a major offensive that captured the South Ossetian capital in an effort to reestablish central government control; Russian forces drove them out two days later.

Russia escalated its war in Georgia again Monday, sending troops and tanks out of friendly separatist enclaves to stage the first major invasion of undisputed Georgian territory. One armored column seized a town and major military base in the west of Georgia, while another menaced the central city of Gori.

In Washington, President Bush toughened his rhetoric. “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” Bush said.

Read more . . .

Mikhail Gorbachev has a different take:

What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against “small, defenseless Georgia” is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.

Mounting a military assault against innocents was a reckless decision whose tragic consequences, for thousands of people of different nationalities, are now clear. The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of U.S. instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a “blitzkrieg” in South Ossetia.

Read more . . .

And now to the maps:

Washington Post (below)
By Gene Thorp.
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New York Times (below)
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Wall Street Journal (below)
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CNN (below)
Interactive map, the red markers click thru to photo and extensive caption.
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BBC (below)
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