August 11, 2008; 11.30
On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)
1. Russia: Security Council resolution to immediately cease fire in South Ossetia to be inappropriate
Russia believes a Security Council resolution to immediately cease fire in South Ossetia would be inappropriate and counterproductive. It insists Georgia must pull back the invading troops and, together with all other sides, sign up to
The Russian United Nations Ambassador Vitali Churkin told this to the press after the Council discussed the current situation in South Ossetia at a session in New York on Sunday afternoon. He said no draft resolution had emerged. He also
warned Russia would not back a resolution that doesn’t take its interests into account.
2. Violence continues despite ceasefire – reports
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has told CNN that Tbilisi has proclaimed a ceasefire and is willing to sign a document on the non-use of force in the conflict zone. He claims Georgian forces have completely withdrawn from South
Ossetia. However people who are managing to escape the hot spot, say Georgian troops are still in South Ossetia and fighting continues.
There are reports there has been a new outbreak of artillery shelling in Tskhinvali during the night, though the South Ossetian capital is now fully under the control of South Ossetian forces and the Russian 58th army, according to the breakaway
republic's president Eduard Kokoity.
“All strategic heights around the city are also being taken under control so that not to allow another shelling of Tskhinvali,” Kokoity said.
A constant tide of wounded people from Tskhinvali to Russia's republic of North Ossetia keeps flowing.
Hospitals in the city of Vladikavkaz are overcrowded, and surgical operations are said to be non-stop.
The situation in the South Ossetian capital remains grim. Thousands of people are still taking shelter.
Humanitarian aid from Russia is struggling to reach those in need who are without water, food, medicine and electricity.
Witnesses say Georgian forces used cluster bombs and burned down a church where Ossetian civilians were sheltering.
“There is a village called Tsunary. There used to be a church there. The locals used it as a shelter hoping they wouldn't be attacked in a church. It was burned to the ground with the people inside. And they call themselves a Great
Georgian Orthodox Christian nation!” witnesses told Russian radio station Vesti-FM.
3. Talks possible only after Georgians pull out - Russia
Another UN Security Council session on the situation in South Ossetia has wrapped up in New York. Russia says it's not refusing to start talks with Georgia but believes negotiations can only be possible when Georgia pulls out its troops
from South Ossetia and commits itself to a non-use of force agreement.
Georgia has called for humanitarian and diplomatic intervention from the UN Security Council members “to stop aggression coming from Russia.”
“Russian ground troops’ armed invasion has already transformed into a full-scale occupation of parts of Georgian territory. The process of extermination of Georgian population and annihilation of Georgia’s statehood is in full swing,” said
Irakly Alasania, Georgian ambassador to UN. Georgia and the U.S. have also said that what Russia is looking for is a regime change.
But Russia has reiterated that a regime change is actually American terminology.
It has also reminded the UN Security Council that Russia was the first to initiate the urgent meeting on the conflict in South Ossetia back on Thursday.
Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that whatever the policy of the U.S. in this conflict may be, what it surely shouldn’t do is engaging propaganda at such a highly respected body as the UN Security Council.
He also said that Georgia is one of the fastest growing countries in terms of the increase of its military potential. Churkin said Georgia has increased its military budget by 30 times in the last several years.
According to Churkin’s data, 127 military advisors from the U.S. Department of Defense are now in Georgia, not taking into consideration all other advisors. He said Russia hopes rumours that the U.S. gave a green light to Georgia to embark on
a military adventure are not true.
According to the Russian side, there are no legal terms to describe the actions of Georgia’s leadership.
“What legal terms can be used to describe what has been done by the Georgian leadership? Can we use ethnic cleansing for example? When about one third of the population of South Ossetia left it during several days and went north risking their
lives – is it ethnic cleansing or not? Now, when 2,000 is killed out of the total population of 100,000 – is it genocide or not? How many civilians must die before we describe it as genocide?” Churkin said.
Georgia, the U.S. and some other states call for an immediate ceasefire and Russia says this is far from enough, since Georgian troops are still on South Ossetian territory.
For a solution to be found, Tbilisi must stop playing games and agree to specific step-by-step action.
The U.S. is now expected to propose a draft resolution calling for a ceasefire. But Russia has made it clear - what it wants first is the withdrawal of Georgia troops and an agreement on the non-use of force.
The Security Council will reconvene on Monday.
Meanwhile, Russia's actions in South Ossetia have raised concerns from the NATO alliance.
But the NATO itself should be reminded of its so called 'proportional use of force' in Yugoslavia in 1999, says Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin.
“President Saakashvili is not a European. Perhaps to become one he wants to kill another 10,000 of non-ethnic Georgian civilians. As far as the NATO is concerned, we can remind them of what they called in 1999 the ‘proportional use of force’ in
Yugoslavia, when the NATO killed thousands of civilians in Belgrade and destroyed bridges over the Danube River while using ammunition prohibited by international conventions,” Rogozin said.
4. Russia sends humanitarian aid to South Ossetia
Russia's Emergencies Ministry has gathered its forces which are delivering tonnes of humanitarian aid to the devastated capital Tskhinvali.
Food, water, drugs and temporary hospitals are heading there via Java where they will take up more equipment and humanitarian aid.
They also have mobile power stations with them.
“We’ve decided to send a rescue mission there, including two hospitals with all the necessary facilities. We also plan to set up a camp for those who have been left homeless,” said Pavel Plat, chief military expert from the Emergencies
Meanwhile, South Ossetian authorities are planning to evacuate around 3,000 people from the conflict zone on Monday.
Majority of those from the breakaway republic have taken refuge in Russia’s republic of North Ossetia.
A group of Russian pediatricians will be sent to its capital Vladikavkaz on Monday as the number of injured children is growing in the region.
5. Russia sinks Georgian boat after attack
The Russian navy says it's sunk a Georgian naval vessel in the Black Sea just off the Abkhazian coast.
According to the Defence Ministry, four Georgian missile boats made two attempts to attack Russian warships.
After their vessels were attacked, the Russian navy fired warning shots before hitting and sinking one of the boats.
Russian warships are continuing to patrol the coastline of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia to support Russian peacekeepers.
Ukraine may bar Russia from Black Sea
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has announced that Russian ships returning from the Georgian shore may be refused permission to enter its territorial waters in the Black Sea.
The ministry says Ukraine doesn’t want to be involved in the conflict between Russia and Georgia. It underlines that the move corresponds with international law.
Meanwhile, Moscow remains unconvinced about Ukrainian claims of neutrality.
Referring to the shooting down of a Russian Tu-22 bomber over Georgia, the Defence Ministry says the Georgian military would have needed a C-200 anti-aircraft system to carry out the attack.
According to Russia, the Georgian army did not possess such equipment before the conflict.
Only Russia and Ukraine are armed with C-200 anti-aircraft systems, which is leading Russian defence officials to suspect that Kiev may have sold the equipment to Georgia.
6. Residents flee war zone in their thousands
After three days of fighting Tskhinvali has been left devastated. Its luckiest residents are those that have escaped with their lives. Thousands are dead but many thousands more have been forced to flee, leaving their homes and possessions
Refugees from South Ossetia are currently taking shelter in hospitals and schools in the neighbouring Russian republic of North Ossetia.
Thousands of evacuees are taking shelter in hastily organised camps. Schools and kindergartens are among the places turned into temporary bedsits. Many people here say they are lucky to be alive.
The North Ossetians are doing all they can to help their less fortunate ethnic brothers. Humanitarian aid is flooding in from Moscow.
Hospitals in the region are full to capacity, working flat out to treat the wounded.
Georgia and Russia finally reached an agreement to open a humanitarian corridor, a safe exit out of Tshinvali. South Ossetian officials plan to use this route to evacuate 3,000 people on Monday.
Thousands of evacuees now face an uncertain future: their homes and livelihoods destroyed. They are wondering can they ever return to their homeleand.
City in ruins
Back in South Ossetia the capital lies in ruins. The main hospital was targeted by artillery fire. Doctors were forced to move patients needing treatment into the basement.
Those remaining in Tskhinvali are facing the challenge of living in a ruined city. Many blame Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili for what they describe as genocide.
According to:official web-sites of the President of the Russian Federation, of the Government of the Russian Federation, of the Ministry of the Foreign Affaires of the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS News Agency, Russia Today TV