The latest on the Georgia/Russia conflict is that Putin is now blaming the US for the conflict.
It's true. Putin is claiming that the US encouraged Georgia to attack South Ossetia in order to provoke Russia, in order benefit a US presidential candidate.
Of course this is complete nonsense. One big tipoff that it's just a smoke screen is this:
Putin told CNN his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate -- Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush -- although he presented no evidence to back it up.
Plausible deniability, should crackpot theory be proven false? Check! My defense officials (inspecific) gave me the information! Of course I trusted them. Evidence? No. Claims that don't contain actual substance are difficult to disprove.
There are a few other aspects of this that are absurd. First, assume what Russia is claiming is true. This is basically the same as Russia admitting that they are easily manipulated and baited into action by the west. Putin is indirectly saying that Russia is dancing to the tunes called by the US. It's safe to say he doesn't actually believe that.
Second, what advantage would this be for a presidential candidate? Barack is in the thick of his convention. I don't buy for a moment that there is any event he'd want pre-empting attention on the convention. As for McCain, I suppose you could make a vague weak argument that it plays to his relatively larger foreign relations experience...but it's quite a stretch. Putin realizes this, so he deftly avoids indicating how or why any of this is an advantage to a presidential candidate.
Also Thursday Putin announced economic measures which he said were unrelated to the fighting with Georgia. Nineteen U.S. poultry meat companies would be banned from exporting their products to Russia because they had failed health and safety tests, and 29 other companies had been warned to improve their standards or face the same ban, Putin said.
Does anybody else notice that when we talk about Russian allegations and actions of this sort, we're not talking about Russia's actions in Georgia? This isn't particularly good sleight of hand. But it's working.