Global Politics

What sparked the Russia-Georgia conflict

The damage in this town in South Ossetia is horrifying; barely a building escaped unscathed and some are blackened shells now. elsewhere, there are mountains of broken glass. There's no running water here now and no electricity, so reconstruction for those who have not fled is exceedingly difficult. This resident and her friends are furious about what's happened to their city and they clearly blame Georgia's President, who sent troops to retake control of this breakaway region. Despite international calls for Russia to withdraw, we saw plenty of fresh troops deploying to Ossetia. The deputy commander of Russia's ground forces says Russia's army came to support Russian peacekeepers in the region who were attacked by Georgian troops. They have no order to leave. I also saw villages totally burnt out where ethnic Georgians lived before the conflict began. So I asked the military spokesman we were traveling with who burned down those houses. He said there were snipers there that needed to be driven out and it's not revenge burnings. Some suggest the Ossetian military are looting and burning in Georgian villages, a fact we couldn't investigate. Either way, it's clear there's little for the Georgians to return to here, and it's also clear the Georgians and Ossetians will never trust each other again.

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