I’m interested by the continuing debate as to whether Russian intelligence proved effective or faulty over South Ossetia. My view is that Moscow undoubtedly won the intel war and what follows is based on an earlier article I wrote for Jane’s Intelligence Digest (http://jid.janes.com/public/jid/index.shtml).
Even before the Georgian attack that triggered the Russian invasion of 7 August, there had been an upsurge in intelligence and counter-intelligence work by the various antagonists. Eduard Kokoity, president of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, claimed on 4 August that Georgian intelligence officers were preparing ‘acts of terrorism.’ Possibly; certainly there have been several bomb attacks in the region, although if so, they really should have concentrated on trying to block the Roki tunnel linking North and South Ossetia. It seems that the Georgians launched an unsuccessful military attack on the tunnel in the early stages of the conflict, but were blocked by Russian and South Ossetian forces, but the tunnel could have been sabotaged in advance.