August 12, 2008; 01.00
On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)
1. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Speaks to Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Ali Babacan by Telephone
On August 10, a telephone conversation between Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Ali Babajan took place at the Turkish side’s initiative.
A frank exchange of views took place on the situation in South Ossetia. There was stressed on the Russian side the necessity of an immediate withdrawal of Georgian troops from the conflict zone and the signing of a legally binding agreement on
the nonuse of force between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi.
Ali Babajan expressed gratitude to the Russian side for the assistance in evacuating from South Ossetia the Turkish journalists who had found themselves in distress because of the aggressive actions unleashed by Tbilisi.
2. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Speaks to First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel Tzipi Livni by Telephone
On August 11, a telephone conversation between Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel Tzipi Livni took place at the Israeli side’s
In their conversation, the situation surrounding South Ossetia and Abkhazia was discussed.
Lavrov gave principled assessments of the attack committed by Georgian forces on South Ossetia. He stressed that Russia will protect the life and dignity of Russian citizens in South Ossetia. The sole possible and reasonable exit from the
situation is an unconditional withdrawal of Georgian troops from the conflict zone and the immediate signing of a legally binding document on the nonuse of force.
Livni agreed that all the disputed issues ought to be tackled by peaceful, not armed means.
The situation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also was discussed. Both sides emphasized the importance of continuing the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process with a view to achieving a political settlement. The importance was
reaffirmed of effective preparations for the Moscow Conference.
3. US hampering Russian peace efforts – Putin
The Prime Minister has accused Washington of undermining Russia’s attempts to restore peace in the South Ossetian conflict zone.
Vladimir Putin said a decision by the US military to fly 800 Georgian soldiers from Iraq to Georgia showed America was ‘trying to get in the way’.
In a stinging attack on the US, Putin told government ministers: "It's a pity that some of our partners, instead of helping, are trying to get in the way”.
He said the US was using “its military transport aircraft to relocate Georgia's military contingent from Iraq virtually into the conflict zone”.
He also voiced his frustration at the inability of Russia's western partners to adequately assess the situation in South Ossetia.
“I’m amazed by their skills at seeing black as white, of portraying aggressors as victims and of blamimg the real victims for the consequences of the conflict.
Putin also accused the West of double standards when it comes to judging war crimes.
“As we all know, Saddam Hussein was hanged for burning down several Shiite villages. But now suddenly the situation is different. The Georgian leaders who in a matter of hours wiped out ten Ossetian villages, who ran over children and the
elderly with tanks, who burned civilians alive, those people have to be protected,” he said.
Meanwhile, American Joe Mestas, who witnessed days of shelling, has said U.S. and Georgian leaders are responsible for the violence that has killed 2,000 people in the region. He told RT that Washington will have to answer for the violence.
“I thought that since U.S. is supporting Georgia there would be some control over the situation in South Ossetia and that there would be a peaceful solution to the conflict. But what is happening there now it’s not just war, but war crimes.
George Bush and [Georgian president] Mikhail Saakashvili should answer to the crimes that are being committed – the killing of innocent people, running over by tanks of children and women, throwing grenades into cellars where people are hiding,”
“The war is when military fight against military. But the Georgian army is killing innocent civilians. This is genocide,” he added.
4. Russia insists Georgia sign up to non-violence in dealing with breakaway territories
Russia believes Georgia must immediately withdraw troops and sign up to non-violence in dealing with breakaway territories. A Foreign Ministry statement about this follows a decree by the Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili for Georgian forces to
hold fire in South Ossetia.
5. Peacekeepers seize army base inside Georgia
Russian peacekeeping forces have taken control of Georgia’s largest airbase, about 40km from the border with Abkhazia. The Russian Defence Ministry said the troops were taking ‘preventative action’ at the base in the town of Senaki. The
Georgian army is pulling in troops to Tbilisi to protect the capital from the advancing Russian forces.
Peacekeepers and other Russian land units have launched their first operation inside Georgian territory proper since Tbilisi began its offensive against the breakaway republic of South Ossetia last week.
A spokesman for the Defence Ministry confirmed the incursion, which was first reported by Georgia’s Internal Ministry.
“Russian peacekeepers and military units attached to them are taking action to prevent Georgia from shelling South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers,” he said.
Another objective of the operation is to prevent ‘a build-up of additional volunteers and reservists’ mobilized to continue military operations the breakaway republics.
Earlier reports indicated that Abkhazian troops supported by Russian fighter planes had taken control of a village in Georgia’s Zugdidi region. But Abkhazian sources have denied the reports.
Meanwhile, the Georgian Foreign ministry announced that the Georgian town of Gori has been also captured by Russian troops.
The sources in the Russia’s Defence ministry don’t confirm this information.
The new statement of the Georgian government demands the international community to interfere and save the country.
And Georgia's President, Mikhail Saakashvili, said Georgia is now battling for its independence.
6. Medvedev compares Georgia to Nazi Germany
While talking to Russian MPs on Monday, President Dmitry Medevev drew a clear parallel between the current Georgian regime and Nazi Germany.
The President said Russia is not going to “pacify the aggressor” as Europe did in 1938, by signing the Munich treaty with Hitler. “We all know to what tragic consequences this led,” he said.
Dmitry Medvedev also described the Russian military operation in South Ossetia as “the only appropriate and absolutely effective” response.
7. U.S. starts evacuating embassy staff from Tbilisi
Meanwhile, the U.S. has begun evacuating the families of its diplomats from Georgia. They are being sent to Armenia as a precaution, according to the U.S. Embassy in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
U.S. ambassador John Tefft and his team of diplomats will continue their work in Tbilisi.
8. Russia to raise S. Ossetia issue on its joint council with NATO
Russia is raising the South Ossetia issue on its joint council with NATO.
This country is going to insist that Georgia must cease ethnic cleansing and withdraw forces from the area before it can hope to enter talks. Providing both conditions are met, talks would become a possibility and they might even involve a senior
leadership figure from the Georgian side.
The statements are in a television interview with the Russian NATO Ambassador Dmitri Rogozin.
9. Investigating Committee of N.Ossetia files lawsuit over Georgian troop attack on S.Ossetia
The Investigating Committee of North Ossetia, which forms part of Russia, has filed a lawsuit over the Georgian troop attack on South Ossetia, which has proclaimed independence from Georgia.
Last Sunday the Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev told the Investigating Committee under Russia’s Prosecutor’s Office to document the collected evidence of the crimes perpetrated in South Ossetia and described Georgia’s moves as genocide.
The Investigating Committee is currently questioning those injured, their relatives and the next of kin of those killed. Forensic medical workers are also holding their examinations.
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.
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