There is something rather disproportionate between the conflict of small South Ossetia (70 000 inhabitants) and its global consequences. But with the wild passions contained here – in an area the size of France’s Vaucluse region - it seems that everyone is seizing on this outburst of violence for their own gain.
The United States waited some time before making its position clear. It was only on the fifth day of conflict that US President George Bush launched a verbal attack worthy of Cold War times on Russia: “We must rally a free world in defense of a free Georgia,” he said.
His defense minister, Robert Gates, is threatening frosty relations with Moscow for the next few years. However Gates rejected any suggestion of US military involvement in Georgia, even seeming to apologise for the fact that it was the US military that was bringing in humanitarian aid. Washington may grumble, but there is no question of dying for Tskhinvali.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided the time was ripe for himself, Europe and France to step onto the world stage, taking advantage of the fact that the US is tied up with the presidential elections. It was a good move. But Sarkozy, on the eve of his diplomatic victory, realised he was president of the European dis-Union. The Polish and the Baltic citizens feel more anti-Russian than European in this affair. History makes it still too painful for these countries to reason with any sort of European bloc strategy. The EU says it is ready to send representatives to the conflict zone. To do what? Observe or maybe control a ceasefire, but certainly not with the intention of dying for Tskhinvali.
Russia had prepared for its latest coup perfectly. Since Kosovo declared its independence in February, Russia has been biding its time. Moscow waited for a Georgian “faux pas” to provoke the South Ossetian militias. The “faux pas” came, the Russian tanks drove in, and NATO did nothing to stop them. this is proof for those who still doubted that Russia was on the rise and Vladimir Putin is giving the orders. Persuaded that Georgia is in the Russian sphere of influence. Persuaded that its people are behind him in this affair. Persuaded that its soldiers are ready to die for Tskhinvali.