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Russia flexes military muscle, evoking cold war posturing

Russia and Georgia spar over a missile firing. The US responded in muted fashion after Russian bombers flew over Guam.

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The Russia of President Vladimir Putin has taken a number of provocative military steps in recent days, creating concern about how the US and Europe should engage with a country that also has a vital role to play in Middle East peacemaking and the nuclear standoff with Iran.

On Tuesday, Georgia said a Russian jet fired a missile at a radar installation in the country's disputed South Ossetia region, which its president alleged was part of an intimidation campaign by a Russia that, as the Soviet Union, once ruled many of its neighbors, reports Reuters.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said the missile, which did not explode, was part of a pattern of Russian aggression against its neighbors across Europe and urged European states to condemn Moscow.
"This is not Georgia's problem. This is a problem for European security and safety," Saakashvili said in English after traveling to the village where the missile landed.

Russia has responded by saying Georgia is lying about the incident, though the US is siding with Georgia, an ally that has sent troops to the war in Iraq, reports the Associated Press.

On Saturday, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov insisted Georgia had faked the incident to prevent a planned meeting of a commission of South Ossetian and Georgian authorities to discuss the decade-long standoff over the region's status.
"The authors of this theatrical presentation achieved their main goal — they ruined the meeting," he said.
Georgia's Foreign Ministry said records from radars compatible with NATO standards showed that a Russian Su-24 jet had flown into Georgia and launched a missile. Investigators identified the weapon as a Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile, designed to hit radars, the ministry said.
Georgia accuses Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia of backing the separatists, and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring the region back under central government control.

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