Russia's novel interpretation of 'cease fire and pull back'

Efforts to stop Russia from cavorting around the Georgia countryside in armored columns, terrorizing the people and making Tbilisi nervous have become almost comical - if the situation were even remotely amusing.

Another French-sponsored cease fire has been signed with great fanfare by the puppet president Medvedev. Meanwhile, puppet master Putin seems a little reluctant to have his armed forces leave
Georgian territory.

Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch that Russia took "a hopeful step" earlier in the day with an agreement to cease hostilities and pull back its forces. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the deal at the Black Sea resort of Sochi after meeting with Russia's Security Council, according to a Russian news agency.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said later that "extra security measures" were necessary before any troops could be removed -- a stance that U.S. and Georgian officials said was at odds with the French-negotiated agreement.

"Now Russia needs to honor its agreement and remove its forces and, of course, end military operations," Bush said.

Bush also explicitly warned Russia that it should not try to seize control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two Russian-backed breakaway provinces at the heart of the military dispute. "There's no room for debate on this matter," he said.

Putin has the Georgian army on its knees so the idea he needs any "extra security measures" is ludicrous. What he is doing is quite simply, rubbing our noses in it. He will leave only when he is good and ready and only after he feels we have been properly humiliated.

Richard Fernandez has the lowdown on the strategic situation
as it now stands:

Despite the "ceasefire" between Russia and Georgia, Russian forces have cut the country in half.  Even if Russia actually kept its troops in place without mischievously moving them around, they would effectively disrupt Georgian national life and relegate its remnants to a kind of rump state. The chief problem facing Saakashvili is that he has no practical short-term way to rid himself of the Russians.

While in the long-term, the Russo-Georgian will be boost US arms procurement  and rouse European allies against Moscow, over the next few weeks it is hard to how Georgia can force the Russians out. Since the diplomatic package Secretary Rice and Nicolas Sarkozy have put on the table stipulates that the territorial integrity of Georgian territory will be maintained (at least in the minimal sense of returning the Georgian heartland to Tbilisi's control)  the energy needed to push the Russians out will have to come from somewhere else. The question is where.

Indeed, it appears Moscow's reluctance to honor the cease fire is a double edged sword; the longer they delay the more determined those nations in Russia's cross hairs become to resist Putin. The Ukraine is talking about tying its early warning radar system in with the west's. And there are other signs that western Europe would be willing to discuss immediate NATO membership for both Georgia and the Ukraine.

In short, the more Putin appears to tighten his fist in Georgia, the more other nations appear to be slipping through his fingers. I daresay Putin's next military adventure will not be half as easy given the wake up call he delivered in Georgia.
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