While the cable TV news stations go wall-to-wall about John Edwards, who admits to his affair but denies he’s the child’s father (without taking a DNA test, of course), the Russians and the Georgians are going at it:
Russian forces are locked in fierce clashes with Georgia inside its breakaway South Ossetia region, reports say, amid fears of all-out war.
Moscow sent armoured units across the border after Georgia moved against Russian-backed separatists.
Russia says 12 of its soldiers are dead, and separatists estimate that 1,400 civilians have died.
Georgia accuses Russia of waging war, and says it has suffered heavy losses in bombing raids, which Russia denies.
Russian tanks have reportedly reached the northern suburbs of the regional capital, Tskhinvali, and there were conflicting claims about who was in control of the city.
The McCain campaign has issued a statement:
Today news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences for Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave.
The government of Georgia has called for a cease-fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The US should immediately work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course it has chosen. We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation. Finally, the international community needs to establish a truly independent and neutral peacekeeping force in South Ossetia.
Don’t hold your breath for NATO:
Let this be another lesson in how Chamberlain-esqe conflict aversion turns minor squabbles into all out war. Had NATO followed President Bush’s advice and brought Georgia on board, this whole affair may have been avoided. Now, like so many other Russian dissidents that have felt Putin’s wrath, Georgia is paying the price for its pro-western ambitions.
Richard Fernandez analizes the situation:
The geopolitical value of South Ossetia, a remote region in the foothills of the Caucasus, is negligible. It is hardly worth a serious conflict between Russia and Georgia, still less between Russia and NATO. But a wounded Russian pride and American responsibility towards a loyal ally make it a volatile situation worth watching.
Svante Cornell of the Guardian blog calls it The war that Russia wants:
For months, Moscow’s successive provocations in Georgia have left observers suspecting that it was provoking a war in the Caucasus. It seems to have finally gotten what it wanted. The Kremlin’s blatant aggression puts at stake not only the future of the most progressive state in the former Soviet Union, but the broader cause of European security.
There’s also the issue of the timing: As Gerard puts it,
“Look at the timing. Elections. Olympic games. Most of the statesman gone for holidays. It’s the ideal time to attack a small country.”
Especially if you’re Vladimir Putin wanting to be the next Tsar.