As I noted here yesterday, it is not so much that I am optimistic, but simply saw an opportunity. Unfortunately, I also pointed out the number of caveats and that Russian commanders essentially still had a blank check. Given Soviet history on treaties, I was not surprised to read this morning of Russians attacking a town well outside the areas and seizing a military base.
Fact is, Soviet treaties usually were not worth the paper they were printed on, because of clauses, conditions, and flat out "I don't think that word (words) means what you think it means." Getting a good treaty in place was nigh unto impossible, especially given Soviet tendencies to twist meaning to suit them. Personally, I always loved the definition of peace as the absence of all opposition... And yeah, that one was real.
The current "cease fire" appears to fall into that category given the weasel words that allow "local commanders" *cough* to decide what is resistance or aggressive action. Count on the Russians to use that to the max to consolidate and to remove anything anywhere that they think could ever be used against them.
On its face, the six-point plan would stop things and allow for negotiations and more, pretty much returning to the status quo with the exception that Georgia must withdraw from two of its "states" and the Russians will stay there until such time as diplomats decide and an approved peacekeeping force can arrive. Right. The next couple of days will show just how serious Moscow was about that, which I think will be not much at all. They will do all they can to turn South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russian territory and use that to break Georgia. Note that they also continue to say that they will not deal with Saakashvili and continue to brand him a war criminal and worse.
Georgia's largest hope remains with Europe, and particularly with Old Europe, which doesn't fill me with confidence. Hope I will always have, but experience -- particularly over about the last 150 years -- would indicate that Georgia may well be screwed in that regards. That said, if Old Europe joins with most of the new that is openly supporting Georgia, and that they and Bush play hardball behind the scenes, then Georgia might get to come out of this largely intact.
Meantime, Georgia has taken the step of formally leaving the Commonwealth of Independent States, and has urged other members to leave the Moscow-controlled/dominated group. If others join in, expect to see Moscow go ballistic. I also love the fact that Georgia has sued Russia as well.
One component I did not get to talk about yesterday is Turkey. If Georgia is to receive supplies and other support, the Turks must be behind them to allow transport through and over their country and into Georgia. So far, the Turks have been supportive, but that must continue. There is a lot more that needs to be discussed on the topic of Turkey, but am out of time.
This is not over, not by a long shot, and the pundits who are declaring peace has broken out are wrong. Calmer, yes. Over, no. This is a respite, and possibly one Moscow needed for nothing more than resupply. For the idiots out there who think this wasn't pre-meditated on Moscow's part, think again: moving that large a combined arms contingent and the supplies for them forward is not something done in an hour or even a day. This was weeks if not months in the making, and the question I've asked several times remains: how did it escape notice? That so much was moved so close, and that fleet elements in the Black Sea -- apparently including troops -- went unnoticed is more than a little troubling.
Meantime, go read this as it will tell you more about the strategic and tactical considerations involved in Georgia and the actions underway. Also, I've been most remiss in pointing out some of the places here that are also providing analysis and commentary:
There are others and as I have time (and you make suggestions) I will add them as I can.
Most of my attention will be focused, as before, on trying to get news and information from the ground. Here are some sources, and as before, leave suggestions for more in the comments and I will add them. Be aware, however, that the cyber attacks appear to be continuing despite the cease fire, making things interesting for those trying to get such out from the area.
The Messenger Blog
The Messenger Newspaper
Scraps of Moscow
All About Latvia
The 8th Circle
A Fistful of Euros
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
More if and as I get the chance today.