Russia has the advantage of time, and will likely use this to great effect, delaying diplomacy to achieve a more favorable long-term strategic balance. The main intent of Russian military actions will be to degrade Georgian military capabilities to the extent that the progress Georgia has made in improving its military forces over the last several years, mainly with US help, will be completely reversed. This strategy is likely motivating Russia's targeting of Georgian military facilities and infrastructure, and the timing of Russia's willingness to agree to a ceasefire will probably be determined by the degree to which Georgia's air force and heavy ground units have been attrited. Even if Georgian forces are withdrawn from the conflict zone, Russia may choose to continue attacking these units if it feels they have withdrawn with most of their equipment intact.Michaels suspects it is the intention of Russia to seek "a new status quo." He writes that
Russia probably has at least four primary goals in mind:Michaels stresses that Russia's objectives are limited: "It is important to note Russia has no intention of taking control of Georgia itself, as this would be a much more expensive prospect, with no guarantee of success."
- Strengthen Russian control over the separatist regions, to include the replacement of 'peacekeepers' with permanently stationed Russian army units
- Revise the regional military balance in Moscow's favour for a number of years to come
- Humiliate President Saakashvili and dissuade future military adventurism
- Discourage future US and NATO military engagement with Tbilisi. Russia's diplomatic and military policies in the days and weeks ahead will likely be designed with these limited objectives in mind.
In regards the last point, it should be kept in mind that prudence did not restrain George II from trying to take Iraq. Are Russia's leaders wiser? Let's hope so.