The conflict over South Ossetia continues to rage as Russia gets defensive, Georgia screams invasion, the US sticks its nose in and the battle gets bigger.

The Russians are now deploying troops in three different parts of Georgia — two rather far away from South Ossetia — giving some credence to claims the USSR is back in town with a “democratic” smile. George Bush has condemned Russia at the same time as his nation airlifted Georgian troops back from Iraq, specifically to help with the fight against Russia.

And although Georgia is calling for western assistance, even their pals from Israel are covering their ears now. It seems no one really wants to mess with Putin and company –anyone remember Chechneya? Here’s what the world’s media has to say about it: 

Check The Guardian for a map of the conflict.

Military importance of South Ossetia. Russia and Georgia are separated by one of the most difficult military obstacles in the world, the Greater Caucasus mountain range. It is partly because of the presence of this geographical barrier that Georgia has felt safe enough to pursue an aggressive pro-Western policy, up to the point of becoming a NATO candidate (and if there is one thing that Russia doesn’t like, it’s to have neighbors that are in NATO). — Red State

Ossetians Say West Is Behind Conflict. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is largely reviled throughout the area, where he is perceived as little more than a Western stooge. The incorrect opinion that Georgian soldiers have been laying siege to Tskhinvali with U.S.-made artillery is heard everywhere. There is even a popular rumor here that U.S. soldiers are fighting alongside them. — The Moscow Times

USA approves Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia and Russia. It is worthy of note that Russia’s Air Force already prevented Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia a month ago. The situation aggravated soon after Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Georgia. It is not ruled out that Ms. Rice okayed the beginning of the war in the region on behalf of the US administration. — Pravda

Georgia, Russia: More Reports On the Conflict From Russophone Bloggers. It was quiet during the night, but no one went to bed. There’s no TV, we’re reading the news from our phones. Scary. My friend, a colleague, has been wounded, and there are the dead ones, seven people from the port, they say, and there are also the dead among those mobilized after the bombing. I’ve no reason to lie, and those commenters who have doubts just don’t know anything about me, I am Russian myself, and that’s why I’m writing about facts here, so that you knew, we are alive, but scared. I want peace and this is all. — Global Voices

Georgia’s major miscalculation? Georgia may claim that South Ossetia’s leaders are controlled by the Russia’s FSB security service but Europeans sense Saakashvili gave Russia the excuse it was looking for to intervene, insisting that its own “peace-keepers” in South Ossetia were under threat and had to be protected. — CNN

Tbilisi wants Israel to pressure Russia. Israel has sold an estimated $300 million to $500m. worth of weaponry and military training to Georgia over the last decade, and there were unconfirmed reports that the Foreign Ministry had called for a complete ban on sales to the region, concerned they would infuriate the Russians and spur Moscow into selling more advanced weapons to Iran and Syria. — Jerusalem Post 

Georgia calls for international help. The West has consistently backed Georgian territorial sovreignity over the breakaway province of South Ossetia, but the West has been hesitant to strongly support Tbilisi in its current conflict. Clayton Swisher reports on the US relationship with Georgia and Russia. — Al Jazeera

South Ossetia and the Morality of Secession. Russia and its client regime in South Ossetia have been citing the precedent of Kosovo’s recent secession from Serbia as a justification for Russia’s effort to detach South Ossetia from Georgia. It’s unlikely that the “Kosovo precedent” is the true motive for Russia’s massive attack on Georgia; after all, the Russians have been supporting secessionist movements in South Ossetia and Abkhazia since the early 1990s – long before Kosovar independence was on the table. Be that as it may, the Kosovo and South Ossetia cases both raise the issue of the justification of secession. When, if ever, should a region have the right to separate from its central government? — The Volokh Conspiracy

Stephanie Rice and South Ossetia: Of bread and circuses. If given the choice, Ossetians would probably rather be free of both Russia and Georgia. But that is the least likely outcome. Georgia has sovereignty in its favour and the cosying up with NATO. But pro-Western Georgian President Saakashvili has overplayed his hand. An actual war in South Ossetia or Abkhazia would mean disaster for Georgia. Both republics have been defacto independent nations since the 1990s. Russia has more natural sympathy among the local population and is more powerful locally. In this new cold war theatre, Russia will now use this new Ossetian excuse to dismiss Saakashvili as a bargaining chip to withdraw. — Woolly Days 

Georgia’s President Saakashvili, on the eve of war. For the Russians he is a scary figure. A cunning eastern despot whose main purpose is to humiliate and to outsmart them. They have disliked Mikheil Saakashvili, young president of Georgia, since he grabbed power following the famous Rose Revolution in November 2003. — Open Democracy

Peter Fray

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