Russia has invaded the neighboring country of Georgia, seeking to overthrow its government. Initially, it claimed its troops were merely seeking to occupy an enclave in Georgia populated by the minority Ossetian ethnic group, in order to protect the Ossetians, most of whom Russia has given Russian citizenship. But after the Georgian government withdrew troops from the enclave after losing ground in fighting, and offered a cease-fire, the Russians kept on coming, sending tanks and artillery deep into Georgia, and bombed cities across Georgia, killing hundreds if not thousands of civilians (including this air-strike on an apartment building).
This invasion is a very bad omen. Most of Russia’s neighbors, and especially Latvia and Estonia, contain large Russian ethnic minorities. Russia has funded and fomented opposition to neighboring countries’ governments by their Russian minorities, much as Nazi Germany in the 1930’s fomented opposition to the Czech government by its German ethnic minority. Through its actions in Georgia, Russia may be testing the waters for future acts of aggression against other neighboring countries with Russian minorities (as Georgia’s president suggests). Russia is also using its control over oil supplies and trade to pressure neighboring countries like Mongolia into giving Russia greater control over their economies.
But when I turned on cable news channels yesterday, coverage of the war was nowhere to be found. Instead, they were airing reruns, entertainment “news,” and other trivia.