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Ceasefire in Georgia: Putin Outmaneuvers the West - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Russia's strongman Vladimir Putin has achieved his goal in Georgia -- the country has been destabilized. And the West will have to look on powerless when its ally, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, is eventually driven from office.

 A Russian officer walks through the damaged South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. The march on Tbilisi has been called off, if such plans ever existed. Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has announced the end of military operations in the Caucasus for the time being. According to sources in Moscow, some in the Russian military found it very painful to have to halt the advance just 90 kilometers from the office of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The hardliners would have loved nothing more than to do a bit of clearing up in the headquarters of this Georgian hothead.

But hasn't Russia already achieved everything it had set out to achieve? Moscow will now argue that it has fulfilled its "peacekeeping mission" as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin puts it, and that it has stuck to international agreements regarding the Caucasus by protecting one side and restraining the other. Now only one task remains -- Saakashvili needs to go, say the Russians.

And that poses the next quandary for the West. Russia will now stress its readiness to enter negotiations, but only on one condition -- that Saakashvili quits. The Russians will demand that the West (and especially the Americans) let their their darling go.

by Fran on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:21:51 PM EST
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