And the devil is in the details. Putin has made quite clear that the only acceptable solution for him is annexing the Sudetenland, er, South Ossetia (and quite possibly Abkhazia, which might also require the Georgian port of Poti) and a Georgia with essentially no military power and back firmly under Moscow's control. I.E. forget democracy, forget elections, and most of all forget NATO and any thought of becoming Westernized. Yet, is that all that he is after?
Things to watch for over the next 48 hours to tell if that is all that is going to happen include:
• Landing of troops or other forces at or near Poti
• Escalation of bombing within Georgia, and efforts to secure complete control of the airspace over all of Georgia
• The combined arms forces advancing to or beyond the border of South Ossetia
For those that are still fixated on the idea that Georgia started this and Russia simply responded, answer me how what appears to be multiple combined-arms groups just happened to be able to respond so quickly, including the sortie of parts of the Black Sea fleet? It takes a lot of time, planning, and even movement and stockpiling of logistics to make that happen. The troubling question raised is how was it missed by -- apparently -- so many? It's not like it's easy to hide and that was part of what I will call the Fulda Tripwire: the movement and stockpiling takes time, for a combined arms force on the Soviet model chews through supplies in a way that makes a high school football team at an all-you-can-eat buffet seem like pikers. One example is in the shelling done and still ongoing -- think about the rate of supply and resupply and then think about being surprised...
There are a number of new developments that may signal a rough time for the invasion. First up, the Ukraine has signaled neutrality at best with this diplomatic move, which threatens Russian logistics. Lithuania and Latvia have called on Russia to stop, and seem to be coming down firmly on the side of Georgia. Then again, all three of these countries are considered by Moscow to be break-away republics and have to know that if Georgia falls, they likely will as well. While Western Europe dithers, and American Progressives state that nothing can, will, or should be done so Georgia must fall (in line), the East remembers and appears to be taking diplomatic if not other steps.
Getting news out of the area is hard, and reports of hacking attacks on Georgian state and corporate web sites/portals are reported. That said, here are some blogs and news sites that may (or may not, it's a crap shoot) be worth watching:
Scraps of Moscow
All About Latvia
The 8th Circle
A Fistful of Euros
Reminder: when you hit Russian, Ukranian, or other blogs, hit their blogrolls. Some of them have excellent ones that are even indexed by type or location. Thanks to Robert Langland for The Messenger. If you have any Georgia or related blogs, please leave them in the comments and I will add them to the list.
One article I highly commend this morning is here and if you want to understand more than just that there is a war, read it and learn the term Siloviki in the same way you learn nomenklatura.
And, finally, a minor vent.
First up, as others have pointed out, we have here a naked war of aggression that is all about seizing land, oil, and other resources. I await the outrage of the progressives, along with a staunch call to defend freedom and freedom of choice of the natives. I won't, however, be holding my breath.
Second, I so often hear about the evil jackboots of Rethuglicans/right-wing/conspiracy of your choice causing so many here in the United States to live in fear and of the vicious attacks on and loss of freedom of speech. Journalists like Anna Politkovskaya and bloggers in Russia, Iran, Cuba, and elsewhere (just as used to be the case in Iraq) live every day with the knowledge that what they do will bring harassment of their families and arrest/jail under the worst of conditions if they are lucky; assaults, rape, and more happening to their families far more likely; and, assault, rape, and murder to them. Yet they still go forth and they do real journalism and real reporting. They tell what they see, what they know, and they do so knowing the consequences. They die to tell the truth, and live the reality. The screamers live a lie. So, until you go elsewhere and experience reality, please just shut up.
UPDATE I: Georgia declares a ceasefire, and now reports are coming in that the Russians have just attacked Tbilisi International Airport. One news story is here.
UPDATE II: You really need to read this response to the Blame America crowd [and a useful anodyne to the puerile (revanchist even) drivel at Wired, thanks to Brat for the heads-up]. Courtesy of Roger's Rules comes this article in which the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia issue a joint statement condemning Russia and its actions. Also, check out the comments by Olga below. While it did not get much play in the US, the Vilnius Massacre (sometimes called the "January Events") was real, and the crackdowns in Tbilisi in 1978 and 1989 were indeed bloody, as was the Georgian Civil War in 1991. Olga, I would appreciate it if you would write me wolf1 at laughingwolf dot net.
Update III: I've just added Civil.Ge as a news source above, along with Tbilisi-based blog Wu Wei and Nosemonkey's EUtopia, found courtesy of The 8th Circle. I also want to commend to you this article on War 2.0 which talks about the waging of war via hacks, DDos, and other attacks. From Kat in the comments, a different take on events from Russian veterans of Afghanistan ("Afghantsi").
UPDATE IV: Courtesy of Instapundit, and a lawn mower cranky over a batch of bad fuel, comes a very good take on this war for oil... Off topic bleg, if anyone has any ideas other than straining for removing solids and/or impurities from petrol, please let me know.
UPDATE V: Simon Owens points out what may be a case of Reuters Fauxtography unfolding. Too soon to tell, but he has asked Reuters some questions, and we all look forward to the answers.
UPDATE VI: American Advisor Captured? Thanks to sharp shooter in the comments, is this link at Rantburg that ties to an Izvestia article claiming an American has been captured. Keep in mind this is Izvestia and the story likely comes from official sources. Given how hard Putin has worked to blame all of this on the US, this is not surprising. Indeed, I would not be surprised if something were either created or a special effort made to try to capture an American. If the next phase is what I suspect, Putin will need something like this...