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Georgia Attack Heightens Concerns About Wider Aims of Russia

Russia's military operation, following a Georgian offensive in a pro-Russian area, renews uneasy memories of the Cold War. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Russia has come under increasing international pressure in the week since it attacked Georgia. That followed a Georgian attempt to take control of the capital of South Ossetia, a pro-Russian area.

The number of dead in the conflict is disputed. But Georgia and Russia estimate that more than one hundred thousand people have been displaced. International aid has reached some areas but not many.

On Friday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed a cease-fire agreement negotiated by France. At the same time, he criticized the West for not doing more to defend his country.

Georgia has been seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President Saakashvili said Russia had been planning its attack since NATO decided in April to delay action on Georgian membership.

With him in Tbilisi was American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She said the most urgent task now is the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces.

In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the way is now open for a Security Council resolution to end the crisis.

Russia and Georgia blame each other for the hostilities and are considering ways to bring war crimes charges against one another.

Georgia says it launched an offensive against separatists in South Ossetia last week after coming under Russian fire. Russia says it acted to protect its citizens in Ossetia. North Ossetia was put within Russian borders after the Soviet Union collapsed in nineteen ninety-one.

The recent violence has been the worst since South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in nineteen ninety-two. The next year, pro-Russian separatists in another area, Abkhazia, took control of most of that territory.

President George Bush said the United States will use air and naval forces to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Georgian people.

Also, the presidents of Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia visited Tbilisi on Tuesday. These countries and Georgia were all under Soviet control during the Cold War. The Soviets also used force in Hungary in nineteen fifty-six and in Czechoslovakia in sixty-eight.

Today, some experts believe Russia, under former president and now prime minister Vladimir Putin, may be moving in a similar direction.

American and many European officials saw the Russian move in Georgia as an act of aggression against a democratic country. But many experts say the ability of the West to influence Russia is limited. The United States and the European Union still need Russia's cooperation on international issues.

On Friday, President Bush declared that "Moscow must honor its commitment to withdraw its invading forces from all Georgian territory." He said Russia has damaged its international relations. In his words: "The Cold War is over. The days of satellite states and spheres of influence are behind us."

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.



My name is Anatoly. I am from Russia. I like USA and people from USA. However I think West want new cold war. It is very pity. I think USA will protect own citizens too in any point on land! Why must Russian act differently?

— Anatoly Dobrynin, August 17, 3:42 pm

Hello VOA team. My name's Renat.I'm from Russia,Moscow. I've been listening to your specialenglish podcasts for about 4 months. Most of all I like to listen to Steve Amber. You all are doing a great job, thank you for it. But you've disappointed me when you released an article 'Georgia Attack Heightens Concerns About Wider Aims of Russia' I thought you are journalists not politicians. Shame on you!

— Renat, August 16, 8:12 am

I am a resident in UK and have been listeneing to the spin on this war the west has tried to put on.

I do not condone war or violence. However the western propaganda includng that of yours make it out as if West has never engaged in wars or as if their hands are clean. I can cite Vietnam and Iraq as very recent examples. Do not forget that time for colonialism (either directly or indirectly through corrupt democratic regimes) is over and that deluded posturing actually endangers civilian populations living all over the world.

There are hawks n washingon led by VP Dick Cheney who stand to gain by fighting wars.

Do not forget the sins of west. you have nomral authoriy o point fingers at others.

— Nalin Uduwawala, August 16, 4:35 am

Your company is spreading false rumors and very blatent lies about the conflict in Georgia.

"Russia has come under increasing international pressure in the week since it attacked Georgia."

I think you've forgotten the fact that Georgia attacked its own people due to their uprising nature and want to create their own state. You are warping the facts and creating your own version of reality.

You have some nerve to call your news corporation by this name with the libel about Russia you write.

— Shane Martin, August 16, 0:32 am