TODAY: Russian troops move into Gori; UN may approve peace proposal by end of week; Russia will not recognize Georgia’s territorial integrity; war of words rages on; HRW questions Russia’s death toll; White House struggling to find means of retaliation; Yushchenko moves to restrict Russian warships. Despite all news suggesting the contrary, including President Dmitry Medvedev’s announcing of the end of military operations in Georgia on Tuesday, Russia’s troop withdrawal from the strategic city of Gori has appeared to collapse, with explosions being heard there today. The French-drafted Security Council proposal to end hostilities between Georgia and Russia may be approved by the UN Security Council before the end of the week. A text of the agreement has been published by the New York Times. Russia has declined to acknowledge Georgian sovereignty over all of its recognised territory and refused to have any reference to it in the peace proposal. The war of words between Russia and Georgia continues. Deputy Russian Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has compared Georgia’s initial move for South Ossetia with 9/11, implicitly comparing its response with the US invasion of Afghanistan. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili writes in today’s Washington Post. “Georgia’s only fault in this crisis is its wish to be an independent, free and democratic country.” Elsewhere Saakashvili has resorted to “increasingly fiery language”. Human Rights Watch has called Russia’s use of the word genocide in reference to the conflict “irresponsible”, and questioned the accuracy of its South Ossetian death toll.
The White House is struggling to defend itself against accusations of misjudgment. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has threatened Russia with international isolation if it does not keep to the new peace deal, but has few retaliatory options beyond words of warning. The US has begun sending military aircraft carrying aid into Georgia, and President Bush has called for Russia not to hinder the deliveries (click for video). “The CIA has in fact been closely involved in Georgia since the Soviet collapse.”Yulia Latynina investigates South Ossetia’s finances. One Moscow newspaper editor says the conflict has revealed the superfluousness of the Duma. “No one thought about a session of Duma. No one even bothered. The Duma has simply disappeared from Russia’s power structure.” The Georgia-Russia cyberwar “highlights how vulnerable Web-reliant countries are to assaults that could cripple military communications or a national banking industry.” Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has introduced tougher restrictions on the movements of Russian warships based in his country. Andrei Illarionov, former adviser to Vladimir Putin, says Russia failed in its main goals with Georgia which were, he says, to remove Saakashvili from power and change Georgia’s political regime.PHOTO: Displaced Georgians look from the back of a truck while fleeing a column of Russian soldiers driving out of the town of Gori. Separatist fighters and Russian troops looted and set homes ablaze in Georgia on Wednesday amid mutual recriminations over breaches of a truce that ended five days of bitter conflict. (AFP/Marco Longari)