Even though a preliminary agreement to resolve the Georgia crisis is in place, hostilities continue in the embattled Caucasus state. Evidence is mounting that Russia, with support from local South Ossetian paramilitaries, is intent on creating a no-man's land separating Georgia proper from the separatist region of South Ossetia.
Georgian and Russian officials agreed to an EU-sponsored ceasefire program on August 12, but by all accounts the agreement is being tenuously observed. Georgian officials and Western diplomats voiced alarm over reports of lootings and killings taking place in villages within Georgia proper, around the strategic hub of Gori, not far from the South Ossetian border. Observers from Human Rights Watch, the international rights organization, reported seeing Georgian villages in flames. The apparent intention of the Russian/South Ossetian scorched-earth policy was to make the area in the immediate vicinity of South Ossetia uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.