Friday, August 22, 2008

Russian General Staff: Saakashvili has lost right to dictate conditions

Генштаб ВС РФ: Саакашвили потерял право диктовать условия

The active participation of Western nations in modernizing the Georgian army was a powerful impetus for Tbilisi to unleash its aggression against South Ossetia. The view was expressed today at a Moscow press conference by Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, reports an IA Regnum correspondent.

He noted that during Mikhail Saakashvili's presidency, the process of re-equipping the national armed forces became a large scale affair. In two years--from 2006 through 2007--the Georgian army doubled in size, and the defense budget grew to $900 million. According to Nogovitsyn, despite existing international agreements banning the delivery of offensive arms to countries involved in conflicts, a number of Western governments have delivered such arms to Georgia. 40% of Georgia's military technology is classified as "offensive." Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the rapid militarization and has tried to draw the attention of the international community to this. However, arms continued to be delivered to Georgia.

As the high-ranking official of the General Staff said, Western partners have often called on us to observe treaties concerning ordinary armed forces in Europe; however they believe that they themselves can ignore them. Nogovitsyn particularly emphasized that Georgia had prepared for a military campaign against South Ossetia. As proof, he displayed war maps, which had fallen into Russian hands. They show in detail the first stage of an armed conflict with South Ossetia. A simulation of the operation was carried out on April 24 of this year, during which Georgian commanders drew the movements of their divisions on the maps. According to Nogovitsyn, after what has taken place, Russia will not be asking the Georgian leadership where it can install peacekeeping posts, and where it cannot. "Saakashvili has broken the agreements, having given the order to begin aggressions, and now he doesn't have the moral right to dictate conditions," said the deputy chief of the General Staff.

IA Regnum

US Ambassador supports Russia's move

Посол США в России сдвигает границы грузинской агрессии

US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle believes that Russia was absolutely well founded in its decision to respond to Georgian attacks on Russian peacekeepers, which the US had tried to dissuade Georgia from doing "up until the last minute." His point of view contradicts Washington's, which from the very beginning characterized the conflict in South Ossetia as Russian military aggression against Georgia. "We see that the Russian army was well founded in its response to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. But now these forces have crossed onto Georgian soil, and the territorial integrity of Georgia is under threat. Now we are encouraging Russia to abide by the agreements of the ceasefire and withdraw its forces from Georgian territory," stated the diplomat in an interview with "Kommersant."

In Beyrle's opinion, there is a role for international peacekeepers in South Ossetia, but that this should occur at a later stage. "Now it is important for Russia to abide by the 6-point peace plan, which was signed by all parties of the conflict. The sooner Russian forces head for their pre-conflict positions, the sooner we can introduce international observers into the conflict zone, and thereby international peacekeepers, and then we can begin to settle the conflicts," added Beyrle.

The diplomat believes that the process of resolving the conflicts between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia "should begin with the recognition of the territorial integrity of Georgia within the limits of its international borders." At the same time, he added, "the principle of self-determination of nations should also be considered."

However, Beyrle believes that the conflicts in Georgia cannot be resolved according to the principles of Kosovo. "Our position is that Kosovo was a special case which cannot serve as a precedent," he emphasized. Concerning the December NATO summit where Georgia's request to recieve Membership Action Plan (MAP) status will be considered, the ambassador noted that the decision will rely heavily on how Russia respects its promises and how soon it withdraws its armies. "Georgia's performance will also play a role."

Beyrle is confident that the conflict in Georgia will not seriously affect economic ties between Russia and the US and will not harm Russia's prospects of joining the WTO.

According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, all Russian military units, making way for an international peacekeeping contingent, will begin to withdraw from Georgian territory to South Ossetia on August 22 at 6 am.

IA Regnum

Eduard Kokoity: Recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would help bring about peace in Caucasus

Эдуард Кокойты: Признание Южной Осетии и Абхазии будет способствовать миру на Кавказе

The President of South Ossetia believes that, in the near future, all the appeals from his country will find sufficient support and consideration from the President, Council of the Federation, and State Duma of Russia. The statement was made by South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity at a session of parliament where an appeal was made to Russia and to world leaders to "recognize the independence of the Republic of South Ossetia."

He noted that he didn't want to sound too optimistic, but that he believes that "our appeals will be supported by the leaders of many countries in the future." "The recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia can only bring about peace in the Caucasus," he noted. The president thanked delegates of all parties, who, for the 18 years of the existence of the republic, had labored so that South Ossetia might one day be recognized by the international community as an independent state. "The current generation of our people, all defenders of the Fatherland, can be assured that their names have been written in gold in the history of Ossetia and that they will be remembered with pride by future generations," noted Eduard Kokoity.

IA Regnum

Kodori Gorge operation: Georgians fled with Kalashnikovs, abandoned American weapons

Грузины бежали с автоматами Калашникова, побросав американское оружие: операция в Кодорском ущелье

The United Nations Mission to Abkhazia was warned on August 8 about possible military operations and it was encouraged to remove its observers from the upper part of the Kodori Gorge. According to an IA Regnum correspondent, the statement was made at a press conference in Sokhumi by deputy minister of defense Garri Kupalba.

He also stated that when the military-political conditions were changing, the observers were made aware of the situation, but they, in Kupalba's opinion, did not evaluate the events objectively. "New York was not objectively informed of the events on the ground," he noted.

Kupalba himself called the operation in Kodori unique. In his words, many military experts are already expressing interest in it, and this, he noted, is not because of the number of dead of wounded. Kulpaba emphasized that the armed forces of Abkhazia bombed Kodori, striking many military targets, while not harming the civilian population. According to Kulpaba, the civilian population was spared because a "gentleman's agreement" had been struck between the Svans and the Abkhazians. Kupalba called the fact that the fleeing Georgian army took their Soviet automatics but left their American ones behind "remarkable." "You can play war with them, but when it comes to the real thing, they aren't suitable," he emphasized, adding that American guns "fell and can no longer shoot." "No one abandoned their Kalashnikovs," he concluded.

IA Regnum