Pavel Felgenhauer presents several pieces of information that could explain why sales of Red Storm Rising might be going through the roof in Georgia.

From the Jamestown Foundation: While the Obama visit is being prepared, Moscow is continuing military and propaganda preparations for a possible full-scale military invasion to change the present pro-Western regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. Senior Russian generals and diplomats have been accusing Georgia of preparing “a new aggression” (EDM, June 18). Last week a Georgian Lieutenant Alik Bzhania, 35, who served in the Georgian coast guard and apparently defected to Russian-controlled Abkhazia, was promoted by the Gazprom-owned liberal Ekho Moskvy radio. He was promptly given asylum and held a high profile press conference in Moscow. Bzhania announced, “Saakashvili is preparing an aggression and I do not want to fight Russia” (Interfax, June 19). A Moscow journalist that interviewed Bzhania, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Jamestown that the orders to publicize the defector came directly from Putin’s office. If Russia is planning full-scale military action in Georgia, it clearly needs an excuse that it is in self-defense – countering an alleged “Georgian aggression . . .”

On June 29, Russian troops begin massive military exercises on Georgia’s borders as well as in occupied Abkhazia and South OssetiaKavkaz 2009 (EDM, June 18). The exercises are planned to end on July 6, when Obama lands in Moscow. The troops will be deployed and fully ready to go into action for at least several weeks after July 6, which apparently makes July the most dangerous month in the troubled South Caucasus. Obama’s visit to Moscow may be the last slim hope to avoid a war: if the U.S. president understands the threat and decides to put Georgia at the center of his negotiations instead of START -which is deadlocked anyway by the BMD linkage. It may be still possible to pull off a diplomatic miracle by pressing or persuading Putin to stand back. (photo: Jamestown Foundation)

Yulia Latynina provides another piece of the puzzle and asks a penetrating question.
Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia’s forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the “Caucasus 2009” military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that “Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit.”
This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?