BREAKING: Ceasefire Declared; Georgia Claims Russian Attacks Continue; BP Shuts Down Oil Pipelines (UPDATED)

Those are the most recent developments in the South Ossetian war:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that he had ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, but Tbilisi reported more attacks after the statement was made.

Medvedev’s announcement came minutes before French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to land in Moscow to negotiate terms for a possible cease-fire.

“I have reached a decision to halt the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace,” Medvedev said. “The aggressor has been punished and has incurred very significant losses. Its armed forces are disorganized.”

“The statement on the halt of the military action by Russia is the news we had expected. It’s good news,” Sarkozy said later, according to an Interfax report.

[…]

The Georgian government claimed that despite Medvedev’s announcement, Russian warplanes struck two villages and military forces bombed an ambulance outside the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, thousands of citizens engaged in a pro-Georgian rally in front of the parliament building.

[…]

UK-based engery [sic] giant BP later said it had shut down two oil pipelines in the region as a “precautionary measure” linked to the security situation.

Remember, the pipeline that runs through the heart of Georgia supplies 1% of the world’s crude oil–will BP’s shutdown threaten the weeks-long decline in oil prices?

Yesterday, I was convinced the Russian goal was to topple Georgia’s government, but now I’m not so sure–if Russia is trying to solidify their sphere of influence, they’ve already succeeded. Georgia–and the other former Soviet republics surrounding Russia–will be under Russia’s thumb for the immediate future as the implicit threat of Russia’s military force hangs in the air.

More as it comes…

UPDATED: France and Russia are holding a joint press conference on the war.

Russia has said that the international community must address the issue of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, signaling a likely push by Russia for international recognition of those provinces’ independence.

Russia has also called for the creation of a demilitarized zone within Georgian territory, which would most likely include both disputed areas. This could serve as a preliminary first step toward establishing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.

In another hit to Russia, Georgia has announced that they will withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States:

Georgia’s president said Tuesday his nation would withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an alliance of former Soviet republics.

Mikheil Saakashvili told reporters his government made the move in consultation with parliament and that it would be a departure from links to the old Soviet Union.

The president said the strikes against his country have been conducted by people who want to restore the Soviet Union. By leaving the CIS, he said, “we are giving final adios to the Soviet Union.”

Saakashvili said the CIS “has totally failed as an international organization” and it “basically could not do anything to prevent this tragedy from happening,” a reference to the conflict between Russia and Georgia that began last week.

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