What Withdrawal?

Russia is supposed to be withdrawing from Georgia, but there doesn’t seem to be much sign that any such withdrawal is taking place. The Associated Press headlines: Russia claims pullback but forces move other way:

Russia said Monday it had begun withdrawing from the conflict zone in Georgia, but it held fast to key positions and sent some of its troops in the opposite direction—closer to the Georgian capital.

Russian troops and vehicles roamed freely around the strategically located central city of Gori, Russian forces appeared to blow up the runway at a military base in the western town of Senaki.

There were few signs Russia was following the terms of a cease-fire to end the short war….

In this video, Russian tanks smash through Georgian police cars which I assume were trying to stop the Russians from advancing, not withdrawing:

Pravda can be a good barometer of Russian intentions. This rather hysterical article, titled “Georgia develops huge provocation against Russia,” is not reassuring. It says that Russia is withdrawing, but suggests that alleged offenses by Georgia may be used to justify reversing the agreed-upon withdrawal:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated Sunday that Russia would begin to withdraw its troops from Georgia on August 18. Peacemakers and units of the 58th army, which participated in the peace-enforcement operation after Georgia’s aggression in South Ossetia, will thus leave the territory of Georgia. …

It seems that Georgia does not intend to abide by its obligations. Nothing has been reported about Georgia’s plans to pull out its troops from the conflict zone. Moreover, Russian defense officials said that Georgia was conducting subversive military activities in the Caucasus. To crown it all it was said that Georgia was developing a massive provocation against Russia in the town of Gori.

“An armed group consisting of Georgian and Ukrainian nationalists and Georgia-based Chechen terrorists is being urgently formed on the outskirts of Gori. They plan to make their way to Gori and wear Russian military informs to pillage and torment the local population,” an official of the Russian Defense Ministry said. He added that the information had been received through intelligence and radio intercept.

All the actions will be filmed on video tape and then presented to the world as “the proof of Russia’s military atrocities in Georgia.”

All of which suggests that the crisis in Georgia may be far from over.

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