Earlier this morning, as the U.S. was waking up to the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic games, Russia sent tanks into the nation-state of Georgia in response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia.
Currently, both countries are laying claim to the province, with the civilian body count in the hundreds. Russia is accusing Georgia of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and Georgia in turn accusing Russia of making up a spurious charge as justification for violating their borders.
President Bush has reiterated the US’s support of Georgia, and the state department is urging a cease fire.
This seems to be a strategic move on behalf of Russia; South Ossetia is strategically critical to Georgia’s economy and stability. Georgia has joined the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that skirts Russia; that pipeline goes directly through S. Ossetia. There are concerns Georgia will not be able to join NATO without it, should they fail to stabilize the region. Continued hostilities could very well mean another upswing in the price of oil.
The US’s continued support of Georgia forces yet another standoff with Russia.