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Friday, August 15

Russia v Georgia - Where We Stand Now

The dust may be starting to settle in Georgia now that Russian forces appear to have achieved their strategic objectives - separating Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. President Medvedev stated that he would not allow the Georgians to retake either province, so President Saakashvili and the Georgians may just have to sit there and take it.

Meanwhile a bit of sporadic fighting continues in Gori, which is most definitely not South Ossetian territory but is the point at which the rump of the Georgian Army (which, let's face it, has been savaged by the Russians) and the Russian Army are in actual contact. There are also reports that the Russians have been destroying military infrastructure as they withdraw under the terms of the cease-fire brokered by France.

Destroying military infrastructure (port facilities, airfields, etc.) - well, it's something I would do. You don't want to have to come back six months later, do you?

And the idea that France brokered the cease-fire must really stick in Bush's craw, and probably makes Cheney and the other neocons apoplectic.

A conspiracy theory was advanced that this entire mess was suggested by Israel as a means to distract Russia away from operations in Iran, or something like that. I'm not so sure about that - Russia has enough eyes on the ground to make sure that things in what they call the "Near Abroad" stay closely monitored.

So where does that leave us?

Sort of flatfooted.

We may not be able to man the International Space Station if we decide to go with economic sanctions, as NASA is contracted with the Russian Space Agency to provide Soyuz spacecraft to get us up there until 2014 when (we hope) the Orion will be in service. Economic sanctions from the European Union? Stop laughing; it'll never happen. Russia supplies a good bit of Europe's natural gas and oil via its trans-Siberian pipelines, and you won't want to piss off the Bear.

So that's about where we stand now. Not very comfortably.

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