The New Kremlinologists


Take a look around the blogosphere and it seems that, overnight, everyone's a Kremlinoligist, everyone's an expert on the Caucasus (I have followed the region closely for years—especially the post-Communist Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—but must concede that I too am just an interested observer, and am in no way an expert; just relaying interesting stuff from the wire services). And the responses to the invasion of Georgia, it seems to me, are merely Rorschach tests for certain bloggers and pundits' own politics: If you're on he left, you're broadly sympathetic to Moscow; on the right, Georgia. So while the blogosphere is abuzz with those "debunking" the notion that Georgia is the aggrieved party, challenging the sinister "MSM's" take on the conflict, the Russian military continues to move—today into the country's second largest city Kutaisi and the port city of Poti—despite a ceasefire. At this point, I'll leave the prognostications and insights into regional power politics to the experts. But another, rather alarming story from the AP:

Russia's foreign minister declared Thursday that the world "can forget about" Georgia's territorial integrity, and American and Georgian officials said Russia appeared to be targeting military infrastructure—including radars and patrol boats at a Black Sea naval base and oil hub.

An AP Television News crew in the oil port city of Poti saw one destroyed Georgian military boat, and two Russian armored vehicles and two Russian transport trucks. Soldiers who identified themselves as Russian peacekeepers blocked the crew from going further.

Russia's president met in the Kremlin with the leaders of Georgia's two separatist provinces—a clear sign that Moscow could absorb the regions. The comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to come as a challenge to the United States, where President Bush has called for Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.

From Fox News, a report of "humiliated" Georgian "irregulars" firing at civilians, including Fox's Steve Harrigan. And a video of a Georgian reporter shot by a Russian sniper during a live broadcast.