Russia Elevates Georgia Crisis

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Reports today that Russian forces have left South Ossetia and are moving toward Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi are troubling to say the very least. If Russia does indeed try to take the entire country by force and overthrow the government, we’re looking at a brand new geo-political ball game. Now, there’s no indication that permanently occupying Georgia is their aim, but there’s no indication that it isn’t either after this latest move.

Still, rhetoric like this doesn’t make me feel hopeful…

In a sharp response to Bush’s speech, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Georgia’s leadership “a special project of the United States. And we understand that the United States is worried about its project.”

Russian news agencies quoted him saying the United States would have to choose “support for a virtual project” and or “real partnership” on issues such as U.S.-Russian cooperation on Iran and other world tension spots.

It’s kind of like, “You all go wherever you want because you say it threatens your security, and in this case Georgia actually struck first, so back off or we’ll start siding with Iran.”

However…Russia could overplay their hand here if they go to far with this latest march, and my guess is that this is yet another power play to make sure Europe and Georgia know they’re serious. Essentially, “You all know we could go there, but we didn’t and so reward us.”

So they may just want to humiliate Georgia enough so it looks like they have to kiss their ring and promise to never ever screw with them again. In fact, they may demand that South Ossetia and Abkhazia be granted their independence. That’s a long shot, but it could be in the cards. And of course this is a signal to all the other democratic nations in the area to never poke the bear, lest you invite a mauling.

On the flip side of this, doesn’t it seem like Russia needs the US just as much as we need them? A nuclear Iran isn’t a good thing for Russia either. Practically speaking, if a nuke somehow goes off in Europe, that could seriously upset Russia’s oil and natural gas business. Yes, it would hurt us and stunt our economy, but wouldn’t it devastate theirs too? Of course this is a country full of citizens accustomed to going decades without much of anything, so maybe they’re not as worried.

Until I hear more, it’s simply “wait and see.”