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Georgia: The Reuters “Bullet Points” and some of my own (updated)

August 19, 2008

I knew that CNN did this, but so, apparently does Reuters. Who needs blog updates?

* Reuters reporter sees Russian tanks leave Georgian city
* Russia says additional “peacekeeping” posts needed
* NATO calls on Russia to respect ceasefire and pull out
* Moscow says Georgia planning attacks inside Russia

Anyway, there are growing signs of ethnic cleansing and targeted violence against Georgians, not only in South Ossetia but also in cities such as Gori.

NPR reported this morning that the Russians did eventually move to protect civilians against South Ossetian looters, but that Georgian villages in South Ossetia were being bulldozed as part of an effort to “erase” them from the landscape.

NATO issues another threat: no normal relations with Russia until its troops retreat from Georgia proper.

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said no co-operative programmes had been axed yet “but this issue will have to be taken into view”.

The Russian military has warned that the withdrawal process will be slow until the weekend at least, and that troops will remain in an undefined buffer zone around South Ossetia.

It says such a move is permitted under the ceasefire deal which allows Russia to take additional security measures until international peacekeepers are deployed.

But Georgia says Moscow is going much further and that Russian troops have seized control of a key commercial port in Poti in an attempt to cripple the Georgian economy.

… And NATO promises to strengthen connections with Georgia

I’m sure the Russians are quaking in their boots. Seriously, Rice apparently wants sanctions. But, as of 2007 (PDF):

… the EU relies on Russia for more than 30 percent of its oil imports and 50 percent of its natural gas imports. This dependence is not distributed evenly. As one heads eastward, Russia’s share of the energy supply grows ever larger. No fewer than seven eastern European countries receive at least 90 percent of their crude oil imports from Russia, and six EU nations are entirely dependent on Russia for their natural gas imports.

While Russian oil and gas pretty much has to flow into Europe, and the Europeans could, in theory, buy elsewhere, the impact on energy markets of a significant reduction in Russian supply would be devastating. And Russia has something like $597.5 billion in foreign reserves and $162 billion in its stabilization fund. So what, exactly, are the Europeans supposed to do that would have any meaningful bite?

Should be interesting.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.