War in Georgia: What’s happening?

It’s a little difficult to figure out precisely what’s happening in Georgia. Frederick Kagan has been posting regular updates here In his update yesterday afternoon, he offered the following analysis:

• Russia has announced a unilateral ceasefire because its operations have achieved their aims.

• Medvedev and Sarkozy have drafted a document that encapsulates all of Russia’s demands in return for a ceasefire—but not a final settlement, which must still be negotiated. Sarkozy is discussing that deal with Saakashvili right now.

• So the situation on the ground now legally is that there are two unilateral ceasefires, although the Georgians claim that Russian forces continue their attacks, and the Russian military has laid the predicate for those and further attacks in public statements today [i.e., Tuesday]. The Russian military has also made plain that if a formal ceasefire agreement is not reached, then Russian forces will not withdraw from Ossetia or Abkhazia.

• The Russian military has clearly stated that the objective of its operations was to reduce Georgia’s overall military capability so that Georgia could not again conduct an operation similar to the one it launched in South Ossetia, and for that reason has been attacking targets throughout Georgia.

• Russian leaders repeatedly say that they will not deal with Saakashvili.

• The Russian Attorney General has announced that Russian law permits the trial of Saakashvili for crimes under the Russian Federation Criminal Code.

• The Russian Foreign Minister has called for an investigation of Georgian war crimes and the punishment of those ultimately responsible by international tribunals, and has said that Russian citizens victimized by Georgians will be bringing individual actions in appropriate European human rights courts.

• The Russian aim is to force Saakashvili from power, preferably using international legal maneuvers (a la Milosevic), but possibly using Russian law instead or in addition.

• The Russians are maintaining their excessive forces in South Ossetia, and continuing to control Georgia’s airspace and conduct periodic attacks in a flagrant effort to compel an immediate Georgian agreement to their armistice terms, conveyed by Sarkozy.

• Russia will not permit South Ossetia and Abkhazia to return to Georgian control, and will move one way or the other to have their independence recognized, and probably soon.

Via Rich Lowry.

JOHN adds: The latest news is that Russia has violated the truce. Its forces are reportedly striking deep into Georgia, perhaps driving for Tbilisi.

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