Despite an order from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for the Russian armed forces to cease their military operations, Georgia claims that offensive operations continue. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did; the audacity of Russia’s military maneuvers are matched only by the bluff and bluster, doubletalk and deception that the Russians are showing on the diplomatic and public relations front. The Russian government has done a masterful job consolidating support for its actions among its own populace and throwing the international community largely off-guard. It is now seeking to exercise pressure in subtler ways–claiming Russia has halted its military operations when it may well not have and continuing to maintain that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has to go.
I am surprised that oil prices have not spiked dramatically, though they are likely to go up if the crisis goes on any longer. And I continue to be concerned that there are no feasible policy options in any country’s quiver that can be employed to stop the violence. Again, no one is going to go to war on Georgia’s behalf and while there is no shortage of rhetorical support for Saakashvili–nor should there be–there isn’t much that can be done to back that rhetoric up. I suppose that it may be possible for the United States to send arms to the Georgians, but such a shipment will take lots of time to put together and delivery is not guaranteed, given the certain Russian military interference that such a delivery will encounter.
Perhaps in the coming days, more options will develop. But that is a thin reed upon which to place hopes.