The analysts may be describing this as a military defeat for Georgia and its president. But try telling that to the tens of thousands who gathered for a rally in central Tbilisi, in a display of nationalistic fervour.
There, Mikheil Saakashvili declared Georgia will pull out of the Commonwealth of Independent States, formed after the break up of the Soviet Union. “We are leaving the CIS for good and propose that other countries leave this body, run by Russia,” he said.
And there were more harsh words about Moscow at the open air news conference that followed. Speaking to the world’s media, Saakashvili denounced the Kremlin’s actions towards Georgia.
“This is about killing the freedom and independence of this country and scaring all the others around us,” he said. “Well, I think our message to them is, no matter what they do, no matter how much they bomb us, no matter how they want to cripple us and undermine us, we are not going to give up our freedom and Georgia will never surrender.”
Tbilisi has been claiming Russian jets have continued air strikes against Georgia, despite President Medvedev’s announcement of an end to military operations. Moscow denies this.