Bloomberg reports that Russia has ‘accused Georgia of firing at South Ossetia’. The Foreign Ministry states: ‘the August 2008 event developed along similar lines’. Russia says it will not hesitate to fight back. Georgia has denied any such attack. EU monitors claim to have found no evidence of firing in the region. Georgia has claimed that Russian troops entered the village of Kveshi in an attempt to push back the border. ‘Russia has largely achieved what it wanted’ from last year’s conflict with Georgia, says the FT. South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has asserted that the breakaway state wants to ‘be united with Russia’ and that greater deployments of Russian troops would be welcomed. Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili seems to have accepted Joe Biden’s assertion that military action to regain South Ossetia and Abkhazia is not be a possibility. Ellen Barry in the New York Times sees the Biden affair through the optic of different rhetorical habits.
Russia has sealed a deal to open a second military base in Kyrgyzstan, a step forward in its attempts to counter US influence in the region, the Washington Post suggests. Time magazine looks at the way ‘the legacy of Soviet rule…shapes Central Asia’s politics to this day‘. At the CSTO meeting no decision was announced regarding a previously suggested special task force, as Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko refused to sign an agreement on it. The Azerbaijani Defense Minister has called Russia’s mediation in the Nagorny Karabakh dispute ‘encouraging’. Moscow and Kiev have apparently agreed to expel only one diplomat each. Russia may take retaliatory measures against Lithuania for banning entry to a journalist. The Guardian examines why Moscow has been hesitant in cultivating relations with China.
‘A new dimension to his macho image’ says the Washington Post of Putin’s four-and-a-half hour submarine trip to see natural gas crystals. Around 50 activists have been detained at an unsanctioned Dissenter’s March. ‘An epidemic of witness tampering that bedevils courts across the country’: the LA Times reports on the dangers of corruption trials.
PHOTO: Putin peaking out from a Mir-2 submarine in Lake Baikal on August 1, 2009. (Ria-Novosti / AP)