Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Despite a (second) cease-fire agreed to by both Russia and Georgia, Russian troops appear intent on wringing as much life out of Georgia as they possibly can before they withdraw (though who can say at this point when that will be?) Although Russian authorities insist that a withdrawal is underway, Russian troops continue to occupy the Georgian town of Gori, are destroying key parts of the Georgian infrastructure, are blockading Georgia's key east-west highway cutting off parts of Georgia from the capital of Tblisi, and have detained Georgian soldiers in the port city of Poti, which they also have occupied since the outset of the war. Russia is also stationing short-range ballistic missiles in South Ossetia that can hit any critical part of Georgia. It seems that Russia is intent on extracting as much flesh from Georgia as possible, and undermining the nation's ability to govern itself and it's territories, before it will withdraw. Secretary of State Rice is meeting with NATO officials in an emergency session today to formulate some sort of response to the continued Russian occupation of Georgia, though options remain limited. The Bush administration has already abandoned efforts it's long pushed to convince NATO allies to fast-track Georgia for membership, a necessary concession to a new reality. For their part Russia does not appear interested in compromise and has only further been angered by the United States' recent agreement with Poland to station a (completely useless) missile defense system in the country. Though Russia resumed bomber patrols off of Alaska in August 2007, Rice chose yesterday to remind the Russians that such a move was a "dangerous game" and not "cost free" a sign that the Bush administration is also interested in escalating the rhetoric. What effect such comments will have is unknown.