On August 8, Russia sent troops into Georgia, spurring violence that has spread beyond two disputed breakaway regions and resulted in the deaths of thousands. The conflict was not unexpected; relations between the two countries have been seething for years. Here is a summary of the conflict's history, major actors, core issues, and consequences. WHAT HAPPENED -- Georgia, a small state that sits just north of Turkey, wedged between the Black and Caspian Seas, became independent in 1991 with the fall of the USSR.
I. In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration. Even after the political crackdown that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the disturbing signs of instability that appeared in Russia after 1993, most Americans and Europeans believed that China and Russia were on a path toward liberalism.
Minutes after the polls closed on March 2 in the westernmost Russian city of Kaliningrad--certifying a blowout victory by presidential candidate Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev, handpicked heir to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin--the men of the hour made an appearance at a massive concert underway in Red Square. As broadcast by NTV, a television channel owned by Gazprom (where Medvedev chairs the board of directors), the scene looked like something out of Mission: Impossible.
When President Bush assumed office, Iran was not a nuclear power. When his successor takes the oath of office next year, however, Iran will have achieved (or be on the verge of achieving) that status. Nothing the Bush Administration or the international community is doing now is likely to alter Iran's behavior over the coming year.
Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 By Christopher Clark (Harvard University Press, 776 pp., $35) On his way back from self-imposed exile in Paris, in 1844, Heinrich Heine caught a first glimpse of Prussian soldiers in Aachen, a city in the far west corner of Germany: I wandered about in this dull little nest For about an hour or more Saw Prussian military once again They looked much the same as before. [ ...
Here's the latest dispatch from Michael Idov, our man in Moscow. You can also find his most recent video report here. (For more election coverage from Russia, check yesterday's post and video.) Yesterday in the New York Times Magazine, Andrew Meier profiled one of the perennially thwarted Russian opposition leaders, Eduard Limonov. “[President-elect] Dmitri Medvedev … is little more than a proxy,” Meier writes, but “there remains one genuine opposition force, the Other Russia.” To be blunt about it, no there doesn’t.
Today, Russia votes for its next president.
When historians one day dissect the long arc of humankind's use of fossil fuels, they may very well zero in on October 9, 2006, as a turning point for Big Oil. That's when it became clear that the major oil companies--the giants that had survived numerous predicted extinctions and gone on to ever-greater profit and influence--were undergoing a tectonic shift and would either reinvent themselves or die.
David Golder, The Ball Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Everyman's Library, 340 pp., $25) Fire in the Blood By Irène Némirovsky Translated by Sandra Smith (Alfred A. Knopf, 138 pp., $22) Irène Némirovsky: Her Life and Works By Jonathan Weiss (Stanford University Press, 195 pp., $24.95) I. The writer: a Jew who had fled to the French countryside seeking refuge from occupied Paris, eventually deported to Auschwitz, where she would die in a typhus epidemic soon after her arrival.
Kim Murphy is a London correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. London, England One night last June, 400 A-list guests and several packs of wolvesdescended upon Althorp, the ancestral home of the late PrincessDiana. The guests--who included Orlando Bloom, Elle MacPherson, andSalman Rushdie--had been invited to attend a fund-raiser for theRaisa Gorbachev Foundation, which helps childhood cancer victims inRussia.