Georgian troops have moved to re-take control of South Ossetia:
TSKHINVALI, Georgia – A Cabinet minister says Georgian troops control the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Georgian troops launched a major military offensive earlier Friday to regain control of South Ossetia, prompting a furious response from Russia.
Russia has sent tanks into the region and the convoy is expected to reach the provincial capital by evening.
The Republic of South Ossetia, as the rebellious province is termed, has been recognized by nobody including Russia. Russia has some number of peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia. The Georgian government has questioned the neutrality of these peacekeepers and according to news reports ten of them have been killed in the conflict. That provides a fine pretext for a Russian intervention in force into the region.
To place this in some perspective South Ossetia is smaller in area than Cook County and has a population of probably less than 100,000. The population is mostly Ossetian and Georgian with a small number of Russians and others. It’s a very poor region with an average equivalent income of less than a dollar a day.
The entire matter—that of the secession of South Ossetia, the apparent re-taking of control by Georgia, and the prospective intervention of Russia—brings up an issue that I’ve raised here from time to time: what is the unit of measure of national sovereignty? It’s hardly credible that a tiny landlocked speck like South Ossetia could constitute a healthy, viable country and it’s further remarkable that Russia should intervene to protect the sovereignty of a country that they don’t recognize.
Pravda reports that about 10 Russian peacekeepers have been killed, 30 wounded, and that the Georgian military is refusing to offer medical assistance to the wounded.
Utro quotes President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedyev as characterizing the Georgian intervention as aggression.
The online Russian language press is just full of this story and the prevailing tack is that the Russian military is hurrying to the aid of the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, victims of an aggressive Georgian military.