Georgia appealed for urgent international support against Kremlin "aggression" yesterday after Russian fighter jets reportedly attacked a village close to its capital city.The most likely of the possible explanations offered for this act is the theory that a crisis with Georgia would serve to keep president Vladimir Putin in power:
The incident has dramatically worsened already tense relations between the two neighbouring countries.
While Russia moved quickly to deny any responsibility for the strike, its ambassador was handed a formal protest note by Georgia condemning it as an act of "undisguised aggression and a gross violation of the country's sovereignty".
Officials said that two Sukhoi attack aircraft entered Georgian airspace at 7.30 pm on Monday and fired at least one missile at the village of Tsitelubani, 40 miles west of Tbilisi, the capital.
The missile left a 16ft crater in a field but failed to detonate. Sappers later defused the missile, fragments of which bore Cyrillic markings.
"We now have incontrovertible evidence that these aircraft travelled more than 80 km into Georgian airspace and fired a 1,000 kg precision guided, Russian-made missile," said Gela Bezhuashvili, Georgia's foreign minister.
Some say it may be the work of Kremlin hardliners hoping to provoke a military crisis and provide an excuse for changing the constitution to allow Mr Putin to serve a third term after elections in March.Georgia is the most vulnerable of the once Soviet-dominated countries who've run afoul of the Kremlin for leaning too far westward.
Update: US media finally notices this story...it's been in the news elsewhere for a couple of days.