Russia Blames the Victim - Svante Cornell, New York Times
Russia is portraying its war in Georgia as a legitimate response to Georgia’s incursion last week into its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Many in the West, while condemning the disproportionate nature of Russia’s response, are also critical of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for his attempts to bring South Ossetia back under Georgian rule, and of the United States for supposedly encouraging Mr. Saakashvili’s risk-taking by pushing NATO membership for Georgia. But the truth is that for the past several months, Russia, not Georgia, has been stoking tensions in South Ossetia and another of Georgia’s breakaway areas, Abkhazia. After NATO held a summit in Bucharest, Romania, in April - at which Georgia and Ukraine received positive signs of potential membership - then-President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a decree effectively treating Abkhazia and South Ossetia as parts of the Russian Federation. This was a direct violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity.