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August 10, 2008

Russia: Georgian President Saakashvili "Must Go"

And now we get to the nub of the matter. Turns out this Georgian adventure isn't just about some nominal Russians in South Ossetia but a much larger goal...the removal of a democratically elected government that is too friendly with the west and not nearly servile enough to Russia.

(U.S. UN Ambassador Zalmay) Khalilzad disclosed during a U.N. Security Council session that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday morning "that a democratically elected president of Georgia — and I quote — must go."

"I'd like to say straightaway that regime change is an American expression," (Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly) Churkin said. "We do not use such an expression. But sometimes there are occasions, and we know from history, that there are different leaders who come to power, either democratically or semi-democratically, and they become an obstacle."

(Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov later told reporters in Moscow that Rice had misinterpreted his remarks. Referring to Georgia's president, Lavrov said Russia can no longer view "a man who issued orders to commit war crimes" as a negotiating partner and therefore "without the departure of Saakashvili it is impossible to stop the conflict in South Ossetia."

I don't think this actually comes as a surprise to anyone but it's nice to have the Russians openly admitting it.

Gori, had been attacked by Russian jets and artillery during the first two days of fighting now appears to be about to come under ground attack by the Russians. This would represent a major escalation in the war as Gori is located in Georgia proper and not within South Ossetia.

Meanwhile, Georgians are wondering, where is the U.S.?

As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: “Why won’t America and Nato help us? If they won’t help us now, why did we help them in Iraq?”

The man asks a fair question. There's a legitimate answer but it's an ugly and ignoble one...there's not much we can do.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:00 PM

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