COMMENTS: Poland Defense and Georgia Truce

To real news: Russia's relations with the United States, Georgia, Poland and the rest of NATO were the lead item on all three newscasts. CBS, which continues to treat the fighting in Georgia as not newsworthy enough to warrant the presence of a correspondent, chose the Poland angle. Lara Logan told us about the Russian response to NATO's decision to install an anti-missile defense around Warsaw: President Dmitri Medvedev "poured scorn on US claims that the missile system does not undermine Russia, calling this 'fairy tales.'" In response Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the arrangement has nothing to do with Russia and is "frankly between Poland and the United States."

ABC's Clarissa Ward (embargoed link) and NBC's Jim Maceda were in Tbilisi to cover the diplomacy between Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili and Secretary Rice. Rice presented a draft ceasefire deal that would allow hundreds of Russian troops to remain in the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and establish a six-mile buffer zone inside Georgia for them to patrol. Ward saw Saakashvili sign the agreement "reluctantly" even as "he blamed the West for allowing Russian aggression to go unchecked." After NBC's Maceda quoted Medvedev as calling it "unlikely that Ossetians and Abkhazians will ever be able to live with Georgians again," the reporter seemed to get his geography confused. He saw "little hope for an end to an ethnic conflict that just happens to fall on the fault lines of the Cold War." Those fault lines, let us remember, were at the Fulda Gap and Checkpoint Charlie while Georgia, Russia, Abkhazia and Ossetia were never on such a line, all being indisputably inside the Soviet Union.

As for Russia's prospects of signing on to that ceasefire, ABC's George Stephanopoulos consulted his diplomatic sources inside-the-Beltway and found bafflement: "They are not getting any encouragement--no winks, no nudges, no signs from the Russians at all that they are going to pull out and accede to US demands."


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