I hadn’t paid much attention to this Reuters report from yesterday: it says that mobile rocket launchers are being ‘given priority’ in the queue of armor moving from Russia into South Ossetia / Georgia. These are Soviet-era weapons which are said to have a range of 35 km. There may be a propaganda angle to this news item, of course.
While I still think we have to make an effort to incorporate the situation into a larger view of things – and I’ll admit that this effort can lead to some fairly strange-sounding statements – it’s dawning on me that there is an appalling local precedent: the 1999-2000 siege of Grozny, in which the city was more or less levelled through use of artillery, including rocket artillery. This has to be seen as a worst case outcome for Tbilisi and Georgia. However, there’s not much doubt that the players involved have form.
One of the least pleasant things about this episode is the lack of any honest attempt on the part of the Russian leadership to give a clear account of its aims and intent.