Things are in a curious pattern right now, and the rumors continue to fly thick and furious. The Russians are taking a somewhat new tack, which may or may not be because they were met with a response they took as serious. They have not honored the withdrawal; yet, they are pulling back in some areas even as they dig in or even expand a bit in others.
These all provide historical and other important context for current events. Georgia has suspended/severed diplomatic relations with Moscow, leaving only consular-level operations so that Georgian citizens in Russia are not completely cut off. The U.S. did not force the issue at P'oti, opting instead to send the supplies intended to be off loaded there to Batumi. It is very much worth noting the language being used by Russia on this and related matters, as it is very similar to Soviet language used when the U.S./West stood firm unexpectedly. They are "perplexed" (i.e. surprised or even amazed) and actions are "devilish" (i.e. damn you for blocking us). They have mobilized apparently all they can of the Black Sea Fleet and moved it into the area as a counter/threat to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships bringing aid to Georgia.
Meantime, the Russians are doing all they can to terrorize Georgians and others into leaving South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and reports continue of more permanent cleansing as well. This ties in with Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states (a la Kosovo), and continuing efforts to give Russian passports and effective citizenship to as many people there as possible. Baldilocks puts some of these activities in perspective with a hypothetical that may not be as far fetched as we would like. Given all, it is not surprising that Russians are refusing to let Georgians return to their homes anywhere that they can control.
Ukraine has taken a bold step by declaring that it will not let Russia add us to its hit list. The support of the former Soviet republics continues strongly, as they recognize very well what is at stake. Wu Wei showcases the question uppermost on the minds of the citizens of those countries, as well as their governments. The answer matters not only to them, but to many others around the world. Make no mistake: from Sunni and Shia groups to other countries being wooed for various reasons, this is being watched for we ask them to trust us. Can we be trusted is the question of the hour, and these are all units that are interested in deeds, not words. If we fail of the deed, they will know our word means nothing, and the results will be catastrophic for COIN and more.
As always, here are links to sources of information. My thanks to all who are posting or sending new links, and as always be a critical consumer:
The Messenger Blog
The Messenger Newspaper
Scraps of Moscow
All About Latvia
The 8th Circle
A Fistful of Euros
Georgia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Blog
Russia and Georgia at War
Here is a list of Blackfive posts dealing with the Russian invasion of Georgia:
This Can't Be Good!
US Troops in Georgia not in Harm''s Way...Yet
No, It'sNot Good At All
While the EU and NATO Fiddle...
The Devil Went To Georgia
Georgia On My Mind
The Lights Stay On In Georgia?
Georgian Soldiers In Iraq
Lights Flicker in Georgia
Who'll Stop the Rain
Aid for the Republic of Georgia
The Things Not Reported...
Perspective: A Different View of Current Events in Georgia
Georgia Soldiers Leave Iraq to Defend Home
Georgia: The Russian Guessing Game
Georgia: Update and Considerations
Georgia Blogging - Keep an Eye on Michael J. Totten
Georgia: The March Through Part of a Larger Tour?
Georgia: No WIthdrawal
Georgia: A Withdrawal Of Sorts
Real Pravda About Russia in Georgia
Real Pravda About Russia in Georgia, Part II
Gori, Georgia Damage Assessment
Here are some other milblogs that are covering this:
More as things continue to unfold.