-- The Georgian government has requested the U.S. government airlift roughly 2,000 Georgian soldiers out of Iraq and back to defend their homeland, an intelligence officer tells ABC News.
The intelligence official asked not be identified because he is not authorized to speak about the diplomatic situation.
The immediacy of the situation for the Georgians is this: They are significantly overpowered by the Russian military and there is fear the Georgians can be defeated as soon as this weekend.
The Bush administration is balancing, on the one hand, its delicate relationship with Russia, and on the other, its relationship with Georgia, an ally that sent troops to Iraq.
Georgian troops have been serving in Iraq as part of the "coalition of the willing." The military presence has been part of Georgia's attempt to align itself with the West as it tries to become a member of the NATO.
Georgia's strengthening of its ties with the United States has created tensions with its powerful neighbor, Russia, with which it is now engaged in combat.