Published 14 August 2008
What Russia and America are really doing in Georgia and who set the trap? Vladimir Putin and his thuggish FSB pals or Dick Cheney and his equally unflappable neocon friends?
Georgia's decision to seize large parts of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, on the evening of 7 August was a disastrous political miscalculation, even in an era that is increasingly defined by spectacularly poor judgement.
Within three days of the assault, Russian forces had responded by in effect neutralising Georgia's military capacity, which President Mikhail Saakashvili's government in Tbilisi had spent several years and considerable sums of money building up.
Clearly, Russia has been goading and provoking the Georgian government for several years into making the big mistake. The parastates of Abkhazia and, above all, South Ossetia, have been under the control of a toxic coalition of criminals and both former and serving FSB officers. Russian soldiers have been acting as their protectors under the guise of a peacekeeping mission, preventing Georgia's attempts to seek a negotiated reintegration of the two areas. The Georgian crisis has benefited the standing of hardliners in Moscow, still aggrieved at Vladimir Putin's decision to place the moderate, business-friendly Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin.--MORE-