The Evidence To Date on The Russia-Georgia War

Dan Nexon in Duck of Minerva:

Now that a number of media outlets and independent groups have gained access to key locations in Georgia and South Ossetia, some aspects of the last few days, as well as the current situation, are starting to come into focus.

Steven Lee Myers’ report in the International Herald Tribute, for example, suggests strongly that: (1) Russian accusations of Georgian atrocities were greatly exaggerated; (2) the Russians–or at least their South Ossetian allies–have engaged in ethnic cleansing of Georgian towns in South Ossetia; and (3) that Moscow is justifying their current military operations–although the term “displays of dominance” seems more appropriate–based on ambiguous language in the Sarkozy-brokered agreement.

According to Kommersant, Russian General Staff Deputy Chief Anatoly Nogovitsyn is claiming that the Russian military “saved Abkhazia from [a] Georgian invasion.”

I’ve been rather charitable towards the Russians, but the last twenty-four hours have, in my view, changed the landscape considerably. The Georgian attack on South Ossetia was not only a blunder, but an underhanded one at that.

The Russian refusal to abide by the spirit, if not the letter, of the ceasefire agreement, however smells very bad. The realist in me appreciates why the Russians would use the Georgian offensive as a pretext to settle, once and for all, the unstable security situation faced by their client-enclaves. But, as of yesterday, all indications pointed to a political settlement favoring Russia and its allies-rendering their current acts of violence and vandalism gross and superfluous.