Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, in Moscow shopping for military hardware, may have been fishing for a discount when he announced that Caracas would join Russia and Nicaragua in recognizing the independence of the breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The U.S., of course, is a strong supporter and ally of Georgia.
The U.S. military has begun war games in the nation of Georgia, an exercise reportedly planned for months, but which comes just days after Russia announced it will spend half a billion dollars refurbishing its own military bases and strengthening its hold on Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia.
Russia has announced it will spend half a billion dollars upgrading its military presence -- reinforcing bases, strengthening borders -- in Abkhazia, the breakaway region of Georgia that, along with South Ossetia, was a focal point in last year's war between the two countries.
Russian troops are in the process of leaving the controversial buffer zones inside Georgia, allegedly created to protect the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgian military attacks. The exit, two days ahead of a Friday deadline, will still leave 8,000 Russian troops in the two regions, which Moscow has recognized as independent states.
Russia announced Wednesday its willingness to withdraw its remaining troops from Georgia if, and only if, some conditions were met: one, bring international peacekeepers in to replace Russian soldiers and, two, Georgia must sign nonaggression pacts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.