The August 2008 events in South Ossetia did more than just interrupt Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's trip to the Beijing Olympics. They ushered in a new low in Russian-American relations, perhaps the worst in the post-Cold War era. Reverberations were major and felt both regionally and globally the conflict catalyzed (practically within hours) Poland's agreement to host a US-run ballistic missile defense system; European leaders led by French President Sarkozy entered into frantic diplomatic efforts to end the crisis; the Russian Parliament (and then Nicaragua) recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. Through this all, reactions have been quite polarized, if one compares those generally found in the West and those from Russia. In Moscow and indeed throughout Russia there has been almost universal, even emotional, support of the steps taken by the Russian government. The contrast could not be starker with Western attitudes toward the crisis. Why is this, and what is behind the Russian thinking on these matters? Why do they consider themselves so justified in acting as they did and continue to do? Is there any common ground at all in the positions of both sides? The staff at East View has worked rapidly to produce what may be the first book-length treatment on the subject in the aftermath of the war, and in doing so we have drawn directly from key publications that we have either long-published as English-language editions or otherwise monitored and distributed. This is what has allowed us to put this publication together so quickly. Our hope is that it can be useful in making Russian views on this long-developing crisis more accessible to interested outsiders. We think that's important. As strongly as someone outside of Russia may feel about any aspect of these matters, it nonetheless is essential, in our opinion, to try to see things from the perspective of all sides, including the Russian or 'East' view in this case. Countdown to War in Georgia: Russia's Foreign Policy and Media Coverage of the Conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, covers the period from 1989, when tensions in South Ossetia began to boil over as Gorbachev relaxed the iron fist of Soviet control, to late August of 2008, when the situation degraded to open warfare and an entirely new situation presented itself. The articles in this book come from three different sources. Part One includes newspaper articles originally published in English in The Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press. These have been carefully translated without commentary from the original Russian newspaper articles. In some cases, these articles have been condensed or excerpted for the sake of brevity or to avoid repetition with other articles on the same subject. Any material cut from these articles is indicated by the use of ellipses. Each article is followed by the volume, issue number, date and page(s) of the Current Digest issue in which it appeared. Part Two includes articles that were originally translated into English and published in the journals International Affairs and Military Thought. These articles provide commentary from Russian foreign policy elite and military experts on foreign policy, security issues and peacekeeping operations in Georgia and the Caucasus. The translations of these articles have been revised for the purposes of this book. The Appendix to the book includes photographs of key political figures involved in these events, as well as an index.