Saturday, August 09, 2008

Russia and Georgia Clash Over Separatist Region

NYTimes coverage this morning; Analysts said that either Georgia or Russia could be trying to seize an opportune moment — with world leaders focused on the start of the 2008 Olympics this week — to reclaim the territory, and to settle the dispute before a new American presidential administration comes to office.

Richard C. Holbrooke, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, said that Russia’s aims were clear. “They have two goals,” he said. “To do a creeping annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, secondly, to overthrow Saakashvili, who is a tremendous thorn in their side.”[...]

There are over 2,000 American citizens in Georgia, Pentagon officials said. Among them are about 130 trainers — mostly American military personnel but with about 30 Defense Department civilians —assisting the Georgian military with preparations for deployments to Iraq.

The American military was taking no actions regarding the outbreak of violence, according to Pentagon and military officials. While there has been some contact with the Georgian authorities, the Defense Department had received no requests for assistance, the officials said.