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August 10, 2008

American Taken Prisoner By Russians In South Ossetia?

It's a Russian language report and unconfirmed at this point but it's just a reminder that there's still plenty of time for this to get even uglier.

An American has been taken prisoner by the Russian military. The American, noted to be African American, is thought to be one of the American trainers working in Georgia for the United States. The article notes he is being transferred to Vladikavkaz for further questioning.

The Georgians have made repeated efforts to arrange a "cease fire" but alas, the Russians are too busy attacking targets within Georgia to get back to them.

Russia has continued air raids deep inside Georgia, after it rejected Tbilisi's announcement that it had called a ceasefire and wanted talks.

Jets bombed targets near Tbilisi, including the airport, and Russia said its warships had sunk a Georgian boat that approached and tried to attack.

Russia earlier took control of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, forcing Georgian troops to withdraw.

The US has accused Russia of seeking "regime change" in Georgia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told the BBC his forces had observed a ceasefire since 0500 on Sunday morning, but had still been bombed by Russian planes. He said his government had been trying "all day" to contact Russia to discuss a ceasefire.

Let it not be said western leaders have been totally feckless in their abandonment of the nominal allies in Georgia. No, many of them have taken the bold step of urging the Russians to stop and play nice. That should do the trick.

I understand that discussions are underway to determine which western Foreign Minister will be dispatched to Moscow to get Comrade Brezhnev's Putin's signature on a piece of paper declaring peace in our time.

I know the tone of this post is snarky, it's not because I don't appreciate the gravity of the situation but rather the opposite. The fact that for the moment the Russians have out maneuvered us is clear. I don't really blame US and other countries for not being able to do much, the other guys just beat us this time.

What I think is essential, though unlikely to happen, is that we face up to what this means.

Russia has been billed as a quasi-friend and budding ally over the last 15 or so years. There have been plenty of warnings, there always are that we in the west are mistaken about this, but it's too hard and to uncomfortable to deal with that unpleasant reality. So instead of hearing leaders admit they got the drop on us this time but now we're in the game, we'll hear talk about diplomatic efforts to get things back to where they were before this 'unfortunate incident'. Russia will still get invited to G8 summits, even though it's not really a free country as we understand the term. We'll probably slow the expansion of NATO and it will be harder to get bases in eastern Europe for our missile defense shield. In short, Russia aggression will be rewarded and emboldened and that is not a good thing.

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posted by DrewM. at 06:02 PM

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