Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wait a Second...

Sarkozy ended the conflict?

Well, that's what DDay is saying anyway.

So Russia starts bombing targets inside Georgia, the United States huffs and puffs to no avail. Then French President Sarkozy hops on Easyjet and stops off in Moscow, and within a matter of hours, in fact just after he lands, Russia calls a cease-fire.
MOSCOW — President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia announced Tuesday that he had ordered a halt to his country’s military operation in Georgia, although he did not say that troops were pulling out and he insisted that Russian forces were still authorized to fire on enemies in South Ossetia.

The president said Russia had achieved its military goals during five days of intense fighting, which has seen Russian troops advance into Georgian territory and which brought strong denunciations from President Bush and other Western leaders.
Now, there are scattered reports of continued fighting here and there. And Sarkozy was just beginning cease-fire talks and didn't exactly provoke this. But basically, what you have is a country that maintains good relations and holds a little thing called influence, and another country that has, well, nothing of the kind.

I should note that, according to Jonathan Landay at McClatchy, (h/t K-Drum) we begged Saakashvili not to attack Georgia (which I don't totally believe) and we "had an understanding" with the Russians that they would limit themselves to fighting in South Ossetia and not beyond those borders. That's just kind of stupid, to expect the Russians not to want to dominate their sphere of influence.
Ah. So he didn't necessarily do it. But it's not outside the realm of possibility, either. And certainly a European figure has more sway than Americans do; there is still a substantial contingent of Russians who want to be seen as a European country, rather than as some autocratic backwater. It's unlikely that Putin or Medvedev care too much about their perceptions, but it is something that may be an issue going forward.

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