As confusion reigns about what exactly the Russians are doing in Georgia, the situation no longer looks as stable at it did yesterday. So Bush has taken the first option I indicated, “he could escalate the stakes by sending a US fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean or the Black Sea”.
President Bush also said U.S. Defense Robert Gates will oversee a “vigorous and ongoing” humanitarian mission to Georgia involving aircraft and Naval forces. It was not immediately clear when the mission will begin.
Of course this is being done under the guise, only perhaps partially true, that it is for humanitarian reasons ships are being sent to the region. The message to Russia though is clear, whether the US navy and air force are in the region for humanitarian reasons or not is irrelevant. The fact is, they will be in the region.
It sends a clear message of American interest and capability, without increasing tensions to any huge degree. The US Navy were probably already given orders to sail to the region, and will likely get there soon, most likely a task force from the Sixth Fleet. But we will have to wait and see what form any military deployment takes.