Russian tanks on the move in South Ossetia
Russian troops swept through South Ossetia on Sunday as Georgia tried to pull back its soldiers from the breakaway region and begged for a ceasefire. Moscow sent thousands of troops, tanks, and air support into South Ossetia last Friday after Georgia launched an ill-conceived offence to seize control of the province, which broke from Georgia in the early 1990’s. These are the basic facts behind the latest flare-up of violence in the region, but, they are presented with a curious slant in some of the US media.
Even a cursory look at some of the US media headlines suggests an obvious bias on the latest events in and around South Ossetia. Time magazine in one of its headlines would have its readers believe that Moscow is playing “a dangerous game in Georgia”, the Associated Press quoted Bush as saying “violence in Georgia is unacceptable”, and the Washington Post said “Bush, Cheney increasingly critical of Russia over aggression in Georgia”. Now, stop and think of it. What aggression and violence are unacceptable? Wasn’t it the Georgian leaders’ reckless and aggressive move into South Ossetia that caused the violence that has already resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and scores of Russian peacekeepers killed?
US media organisations appeared eager to quote every phrase Saakashvili uttered however facetious and absurd it might seem. Video images captured Russian troops against the backdrop of burning homes in Tskhinvali and the impression one gets is that the fires were caused by Russian soldiers, rather than Georgian troops who had pounded Ossetian settlements for several days setting them ablaze and scattering civilians.
In the name of fairness and for good measure, there also seemed to be some fairly objective reporting from the scene of violence and commentary on the impact of those events. The New York Times, for one, quoted an American official who covers Georgian affairs as saying that “everything had gone wrong” with the Georgian move in South Ossetia. He said that Saakashvili acted rashly and gave Russia the grounds to invade. “The Georgians have lost almost everything”, the unnamed official was quoted as saying. “We always told them, ‘Don’t do this, because the Russians do not have limited aims’”.
According to Time magazine, “Besides suspending oil shipments from Azerbaijan via Georgia, Russia’s military campaign has clouded the prospects for Georgia joining NATO any time soon. The carnage of recent days will likely reinforce the reluctance of European NATO members to induct Georgia as a member despite strong US support for Georgian membership”. Furthermore, the magazine said that “the battle that began to rage in Georgia as world leaders were treated to the pyrotechnics of the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony may be the most serious challenge to the post-Cold War balance of power since the collapse of the Soviet Union”.
11 August 2008
Voice of Russia World Service