Russia ends its push into Georgia, sort-of:
“President Dmitry Medvedev ended the onslaught against the former Soviet republic…But Russian forces had already kicked Georgian troops out of the breakaway province of South Ossetia, surged across the border on two fronts to seize Georgian towns, police stations and military bases, and pounded military installations deep inside Georgia with swarms of warplanes.
Before peace talks began, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia would not deal with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvilli, a staunch U.S. ally, and said that Saakashvili should leave office.
In calling an end to the Russian assault, Medvedev told Russian TV, “The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been restored. The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses.”
He also gave a blunt warning to Georgia by publicly ordering Russia’s defense minister to be ready to resume attacks, “If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them.”
The Russians want Saakashvili gone, as expected. The only problem – he’s a democratically elected president. The Russian may not like him, but unless his own people turn on him in response to his disatrous misadventure into South Ossetia, they are stuck with him.
File this in the “Not Very Helpful” file:
Vice President Dick Cheney called Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to express U.S. solidarity in the conflict with Russia and told him “Russian aggression must not go unanswered,” the vice president’s office said on Monday.
The vice president’s admonition to Georgia’s president jerks readers back into the frame of the Cold War. One wonders what sort of answer Mr. Cheney has in mind, considering that the U.S.-trained Georgian troops could kill Russian troops but could not stop the advance of Russian forces. The U.S. is certainly in no strategic position for a direct confrontation with Russia for the defense of Georgia, so Cheney’s remarks amount to little more than “Stay strong, and kill as many as you can on the way down.” Statements like this only urge a mimetic spiral of violence.
The only ray of light that I can see in this disaster is that it provides a teachable moment for the Georgian government, which has been trying to compel consent through force in South Ossetia for a while now. Nonviolent solutions to the conflict are the only viable options. Christians in the region might want to reflect on their faith’s nonviolent roots for inspiration for a way out of another wreck brought about by using violence, rather than self-sacrificing nonviolent love, to participate in conflict.