Kagan’s latest take (again, you can read these updates in their entirety here):
- South Ossetia and Abkhazia are on a path to declare independence and be recognized by Russia.
- Russia has warned the U.S. to take no steps in Georgia that might “directly or indirectly” encourage Saakashvili to try to retake these areas, but says that it neither objects to nor will interfere with the U.S. provision of humanitarian assistance to Georgia. Russia is matching that humanitarian effort with one of its own in South Ossetia.
- Russian declarations have left a lot of room for the Russians to delay the departure of their forces from Georgia, to increase the number and quality of the “peacekeepers” left behind, and to demand the movement of several critical Georgian garrisons, including the one protecting the vital road junction at Gori, 30 km from Tskhinvali.
- Russian criminal prosecutors continue to prepare legal cases against Georgian leaders under the laws of the Russian Federation.
- All Georgian forces have left South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which the Russians now confirm.
- Russia acknowledges having occupied Gori on a variety of pretexts, but says it expects to leave Gori within a couple of days.
- Russia has indicated that it intends to review the “security zone” around South Ossetia in such a way that it might lead to the demand that Gori—the key military depot for the Georgian military—be disarmed.
- Medvedev has announced that the peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia will be maintained at highest alert, and Russian military officials suggest that their number may be increased (although, they claim, not with Russians). There are no indications that the Russians intend to honor Saakashvili’s request not to upgrade the quality of the Russian forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia or their equipment.
- Medvedev has also announced the intention to strengthen and modernize the Russian armed forces and to make volunteer military service more attractive. The Russian military has identified a number of areas in which it intends to make improvements following this conflict.