Russia and Georgia Battle Over Position in History





A year after Russia fought a war with its former-Soviet neighbor Georgia, the argument over who was to blame for a conflict that at one point threatened to reignite the Cold War is raging again.

The five-day conflict left hundreds dead, Georgia's army crushed and two parts of its territory on the border with Russia -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- under Russian occupation. It also left the West struggling with how to respond to Russia's determination to assert a sphere of influence. But the core questions left by the war -- who was to blame, why it was fought and whether genocide was committed -- remain in dispute.

Underlining rising tensions around the war's anniversary and the danger of renewed conflict, Russian officials said Tuesday that their troops in Georgia's enclaves had been put on alert after alleged Georgian "provocations," which Georgian officials denied. Also Tuesday, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev discussed "lessons to be learned from the Georgia crisis that took place one year ago" in a telephone call with President Barack Obama, according to a Kremlin statement.

An international fact-finding mission, headed by a Swiss diplomat, has delayed its report on the war until the end of September, from the original due date of July 31. Pressure on the head of the commission, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, who served in Chechnya, Bosnia and Moscow in the 1990s, and for four years until 2006 as the head of the United Nations observer mission in Abkhazia, is immense: Her conclusions could have lasting repercussions, diplomats and analysts say.


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