Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another War Is Breaking Out...

New York Times
GORI, Georgia — The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia moved toward all-out war on Saturday as Russia prepared to land ground troops on Georgia’s coast and broadened its bombing campaign both within Georgia and in the disputed territory of Abkhazia.

The fighting that began when Georgian forces tried to retake the capital of South Ossetia, a pro-Russian region that won de facto autonomy from Georgia in the early 1990s, appeared to be developing into the worst clashes between Russia and a foreign military since the 1980s war in Afghanistan.

Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, declared that Georgia was in a state of war, ordering government offices to work around the clock, and said that Russia was planning a full-scale invasion of his country.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, eclipsing the authority of President Dmitri A. Medvedev, left the Olympics in China and arrived Saturday evening in Vladikavkaz, a city in southern Russia just over the border that is a military staging area. State-controlled news broadcasts showed Mr. Putin meeting generals, suggesting that he was in charge of the operations on Georgian soil.

Mr. Putin made clear that Russia now viewed Georgian claims over the breakaway regions within its borders to be invalid, and that Russia had no intention of withdrawing. “There is almost no way we can imagine a return to the status quo,” he said, according to Interfax.

Russian armored vehicles continued to stream into South Ossetia, and Russian officials said that 1,500 civilians had been killed in South Ossetia and that 12 Russian soldiers had died.

A Georgian government spokesman said that 60 civilians had been killed in airstrikes on the city of Gori. Each side’s figures were impossible to confirm independently.

Attending the Olympic Games in Beijing, President Bush directly called on Russia on Saturday to stop bombing Georgian territory, expressing strong support for Georgia in a direct challenge to Russia’s leaders. (complete article)

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