The Russians are insisting that the Georgian President, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, "must go." The Foreign Minister, Mr. Sergei Lavrov, also says that Moscow will not talk to Mr. Saakashvili..
The US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, says that this demand (reiterated Sunday by the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin), is "unacceptable and crosses a red line."
Of course, I agree with Ambassador Khalilzad that this is outrageous, but I would like to know how he proposes to make the Russian demands unacceptable? With the Russians sitting on Georgia's main communications artery, and the Georgians without the ability to drive them off, or real help from Georgia's US quasi-ally; the Russians are in a good position to get what they are demanding. The military facts on the ground do not entitle the US or the Georgians, however "reasonable" and "equitable" their position may appear -- to insist on anything.
I could wish matters were otherwise, but without means to put pressure on the Russians, or, quite frankly, any manifestation of will by the US to do so -- Ambassador Khalilzad should moderate his tone and try to help extract the best terms for the Georgians from this mess that he can. If the US government finds a way to squeeze on Russia, I'll be the first to support a harder line. Find some chips, Ambassador.