I feel like a sad person for posting here two hours after midnight, but Russian military has launched an offensive into separatist South Ossetia after Georgian troops invaded the region.
The allegiance of South Ossetia is disputed. Officially, it belongs to Georgia. There is a strong separatist tendency and the region split de facto from Georgia after a civil war 1990-1992. Most of the inhabitants are Russian citizens. Russia supports South Ossetia financially and has maintained a military force there, as a part of a mixed "peace corps". NATO supports Georgia and its territorial claims. International law does not sanction the two referendums in South Ossetia that supported separation in 1992 and 2006. Georgia accuses Russia of trying to annex both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian leaders who demanded self-determination for South Ossetia had a different standard for Chechnya. The USA has been treating Georgia as a loyal ally - there are Georgian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and American military advisors in Tbilisi. The UN security council cannot agree on a consistent policy.
Da haben wir den Salat.
Neither Russian nor Georgian top politicians have been any poster children for democracy lately. Saakashvili has been cracking down on political opposition. Putin shows class by demanding revenge for dead soldiers rather than namby-pamby justice. The American presidential candidates are trying to trump each other in their reactions against Russian aggression and ask Russia to respect Georgian territory (when history jokes, she is not exactly subtle isn't she?).
What is really horrible is the plight of the ordinary people.
Some headlines translated from Der Spiegel, my main German news source after Titanic Magazin (which is currently focused on lampooning the Olympics, China and the West):
Photos: Thousands are fleeing the battles in South Ossetia
Analysis: Conflict of South Ossetia - Proxy War About Power and Resources
Portrait: President Saakashvili - Superman in Crisis
Europe Caught By Caucasian War On The Hop: Nobody listens to the EU as usual - not that the EU leaders have anything more sensible to say. Even NATO seems to have been startled by the sudden outbreak of violence.
And a headline from Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's largest newspaper:
Saakashvili: "We are like the Finns in the Winter War" (the real treat of the article is the flaming comments section, where readers debate if this is a valid comparison, political propaganda or an insult against Finland's national honour)