This week, rhetoric and emotion escalated: As Poland and the US signed a missile shield deal Tuesday, Moscow said Russia "will be forced to react, and not only through diplomatic means" – and is hosting Syria's president today to discuss further military cooperation.
NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said this week it will no longer be "business as usual" with Moscow, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tbilisi defied Russia threats over NATO expansion and said Georgia will "one day" be a member. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shot back that "NATO is trying to make a victim of an aggressor [Georgia] and whitewash a criminal regime."
Muddled view of Moscow's intent
Meanwhile, Moscow's intent in Georgia remains unclear. Russian troops on the ground have contradicted official promises; Russian authorities have avidly reinterpreted a French-brokered cease-fire. It remains unclear whether troops will withdraw into South Ossetia, or create their own unbrokered security zone in a swath of Georgia outside Ossetia. Moscow first said its troops would pull out, then said troops would only pull back. All the while, Russian forces have moved freely on Georgian territory and taken control of several cities. The delay is widely seen as a bid to dramatize the West's inability to deter. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called the delay an opportunity for Moscow to "laugh at" the West.