Russia has made some apparently conciliatory moves towards Georgia this week – notably a [promise](http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/10/21d0a8f7-6bd1-47dc-bc8c-db532164fad4.html) of early withdrawal of the Russian troops based in Tbilisi.
Is this an olive branch to Georgia? No – it’s shrewd international politics. The UN has just passed a [resolution renewing the mandate of the UN observer mission in Georgia](http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/13/news/UN_GEN_UN_Georgia.php). Had Security Council members agreed with the EU’s (obviously correct, but politically awkward) [assessment](http://mosnews.com/news/2006/10/12/russiageorgia.shtml) that “Russia is not a neutral participant in the peacekeeping arrangements“, they could have produced a resolution limiting Russia’s role in Georgia. So, Russia keeps them sweet by making a concession – but notice that it is a concession that doesn’t require any immediate action. By the time it comes to remove the troops from Tbilisi, everybody except the Georgians will have forgotten what Russia promised.
Update: According to [Saakashvili](http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=13869),Russia was aiming for – and failed to get – two items included in the [resolution](http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8851.doc.htm):
The first is unconditional denunciation of the Georgian police operation in the upper Kodori gorge that would have a serious legal force, and the second, restoration of the status quo, which existed in the gorge prior to this operation. It would have meant the withdrawal of the legitimate Abkhaz authorities from the Kodori gorge and renaming of the Kodori gorge,