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Russian's are masters of deception and espionage and it looks like they are up to no good again. 8)

Parts of Russia's 58th Army — including 150 tanks and armored vehicles — reportedly were moving Friday on the capital of South Ossetia after Georgian troops entered the city in an attempt to crush separatist forces seeking to control the breakaway province.

Kakha Lamaia, a member of Georgia's National Security Council, told Reuters the two countries are "very close" to war, if not already at war.

"If it's not war, then we are very close to it," Lamaia said. "The Russians have invaded Georgia and we are under attack."

President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly were discussing the Georgia crisis after attending the opening of the Beijing Olympic games.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov told Reuters that he is "receiving reports of ethnic cleansing in villages of South Ossetia."

Fighting escalated between Georgian and Russian forces escalated earlier in the day with Georgia claiming to have downed four Russian combat warplanes, and Russian planes bombing the Vaziani airbase outside the Georgian capital of Tblisi.

Russian Ground Forces spokesman Col. Igor Konashenkov said that 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed and another 30 wounded durring Georgian shelling of their barracks.

Georgian officials denied firing on the Russian forces.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was receiving reports that villages in South Ossetia were being ethnically cleansed.

"We are receiving reports that a policy of ethnic cleansing was being conducted in villages in South Ossetia, the number of refugees is climbing, the panic is growing, people are trying to save their lives," he said during televised remarks in Moscow from Russia's Foreign Ministry.

Georgian troops launched their offensive to regain control over the South Ossetia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili accused Russia, which has close ties to the separatists, of bombing Georgian territory.

Saakashvili also said it was in the United States' interest to help his country.

But Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the Georgian attack will draw retaliation and the Defense Ministry pledged to protect South Ossetians, most of whom have Russian citizenship.

Russia's Channel 1 television earlier showed a convoy of Russian tanks that it said had entered South Ossetia. The report said the convoy is expected to reach the provincial capital within a few hours.

There has been no immediate comment from Russian officials.

Separatist officials in South Ossetia said 15 civilians had been killed in fighting overnight. Georgian officials said seven civilians were wounded in bombing raids by Russia.

Georgia declared a three-hour cease-fire to allow civilians to leave Tskhinvali. Georgia's Interior Ministry spokesman said troops were observing the cease-fire, which began at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. EDT).

A spokesman for President Bush said Russia and Georgia should cease hostilities and hold talks to end the conflict. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he is seriously concerned about the fighting and that the alliance is closely following the situation.

Georgia, which borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the breakup of the Soviet Union. The country has angered Russia by seeking NATO membership — a bid Moscow regards as part of a Western effort to weaken its influence in the region.

Saakashvili long has pledged to restore Tbilisi's rule over South Ossetia and another breakaway province, Abkhazia. Both regions have run their own affairs without international recognition since splitting from Georgia in the early 1990s and built up ties with Moscow.

Relations between Georgia and Russia worsened notably this year as Georgia pushed to join NATO and Russia dispatched additional peacekeeper forces to Abkhazia.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it is seeking to open a humanitarian corridor to guarantee safe access to Tskhinvali. Maia Kardova, ICRC spokeswoman in Tbilisi, said military vehicles are being given priority on the main road leading to the South Ossetia capital and this is making it difficult for rescue vehicles to get through.

Saakashvili urged Russia to immediately stop bombing Georgian territory.

"Georgia will not yield its territory or renounce its freedom," he said.

A senior Russian diplomat in charge of the South Ossetian conflict, Yuri Popov, dismissed the Georgian claims of Russian bombings as misinformation, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev later chaired a session of his Security Council in the Kremlin, vowing that Moscow will protect Russian citizens.

"In accordance with the constitution and federal law, I, as president of Russia, am obliged to protect lives and dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are located," Medvedev said, according to Russian news reports. "We won't allow the death of our compatriots go unpunished."
 

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Just great. Ugh. I don't know about you guys...but between China and Russua the future doesn't look so stable. The next 50 years are going to be a crucial turning point for history.
 
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