Day By Day

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Bear is On the Prowl

Russian tanks are on the move again. AP reports:

DZHAVA, Georgia - Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases Friday after Georgia launched a major military offensive Friday to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, threatening to ignite a broader conflict.

Read it here.

The situation is obvious. Two centuries ago Russia conquered and incorporated Georgia. Two decades ago Georgia finally gained its independence. Since then Georgia has been assiduously building ties to the West and has even sought to join NATO and has committed support troops to the American war in Iraq. Georgia is an ally.

Ossetia is an ethnically distinct area lying between Russia and Georgia. The Ossetians want their independence from both. South Ossetia has tried to separate from Georgia and unite with Russian Ossetia. Georgia is trying to hold onto Ossetia. Russia is supporting the Ossetian separatists.

Russia under Putin wants to reassemble the old Soviet empire and in its more paranoid precincts views the expansion of NATO as a threat to its national interests. Georgia's overtures to the West, and especially its bid for NATO membership, have stoked these fears and the Ossetian revolt has provided an opportunity for Russia to intervene militarily to regain control of the region.

For a historical review of the situation go here.

In the waning months of his presidency it is unlikely that President Bush will commit American forces in the region, but NATO is certainly going to be in a tizzy over this development. Russia has been acting provocatively in recent months in both military and economic matters and there is a great deal of worry that the Russian Bear is again on the prowl.

Once again Europe is facing a crisis on its borders. What will it do? Europe failed miserably to act in Bosnia and had to be bailed out by Clinton. It has issued strong statements, and endorsed sanctions against Iran, but has been unwilling to do much more than that. European troops, inhibited by an outmoded and risk averse leadership, have performed extremely badly in Afghanistan and Iraq. But this might be different. There is a new generation of leaders in Western Europe. It will be interesting to see how the next administration, and more importantly, the current generation of European leadership will respond. Will the bear be put back in its cage, or will Russia gain a success that will encourage its neo-imperialist goals?

Stay tuned..., things are getting interesting.

BBC reporting here.


This article from Slate explains more about the situation in South Ossetia than you will learn from the MSM. Check it out here.