Like the opening sequence of a Cold War action film, the Russians have signed a treaty with the Georgians, only to stay where they are — 40 odd km from the capital Tbilisi.
Soldiers on the ground in South Ossetia are refusing to leave until they are commanded to do so, while refugees pour out of the war zone with tales of burning villages and incomprehensible violence from both sides.
As the US reassesses its recently friendly relationship with their former nemesis Russia, commentators around the world are questioning the impact of NATO, nuclear power and an eastern European drive to be more western — all the while wondering who is to blame.
Here’s how bloggers and global media are reporting on Georgia today:
Georgia, Russia: The War’s Virtual Dimension. It’s as if the TV channels have taken position in the trenches and know for sure what’s going on. As if they know who the enemy, the devil, is. For us it’s Georgia, for them it’s Russia. And the truth is somewhere near… — Ksenia Basilashvili, journalist with Radio Echo of Moscow, Global Voices
The Kremlin’s New Containment Policy. The current armed conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi is about power and survival. True, there are other factors that contributed to the conflict, such as Russia’s failure to play a stabilizing role in the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as Saakashvili’s reckless provocations. But even if you combine all of these elements, they probably wouldn’t have been enough to trigger last week’s war. The deciding factor was Georgia’s intention to join NATO and NATO’s plans to eventually offer membership to the two countries, which Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer reiterated at the April NATO conference in Bucharest. The worst nightmare for the Russian elite would be Georgia (and Ukraine) becoming full NATO members. — The Moscow Times
No singing in the shelters. The Messenger has visited different places where refugees are sheltering. Based on our observation, the Government representatives are saying one thing and the people escaping from war zone are saying another. — The Georgian Messenger
Scant sign of Russian withdrawal. Russia has pledged to start pulling out combat troops from Georgia on Monday at noon, but its troops have continued to dig in at positions less than half an hour’s drive from the capital, Tbilisi. — Al Jazeera
Georgia On My Mind… To some in the west, Russia has proven itself, at the governmental level, not to be trusted at their word. — Digital Journal
Reassessing America’s ties with Russia. Russia’s brazen invasion of Georgia has raised a host of chilling questions that Americans and many others around the world had hoped were long settled. Is Russia a threat — to its neighbors, to Europe, to the United States? What are the United States and its NATO allies prepared to do if Russia blackmails or attacks another sovereign democratic nation that is not a member of the alliance? Should the West continue to engage Russia or focus more on containing its ambitions? — International Herald Tribune
After Georgia, what future for NATO? While it may not be a military on the rise, Russia showed for the first time in years that its military could exceed the world’s low expectations. — Christian Science Monitor