August 12, 2008; 10.00
On the situation in South Ossetia (press review)
1. Georgian troops fire at refugees
Authorities in South Ossetia say Georgian troops have shelled the road being used for evacuating people from the conflict zone, according to Russian Interfax news agency. Attacks are continuing in the South Ossetian region, despite claims from
Georgia that it was imposing a ceasefire.
There have been several explosions in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, after it came under a renewed shelling attack. Several Russian troops have been wounded.
It said that Russian forces have shot down a Georgian military plane in South Ossetia in the area around Eredvi.
Russian humanitarian aid has begun to arrive in the breakaway region's capital.
Tskhinvali is back under peacekeepers' control, as Russian troops disarm Georgians, who still remain in the city.
Moscow is sending more troops to South Ossetia. And military investigators have already started working in Tskhinvali to collect evidence of war crimes.
1600 civilians are thought to have died in South Ossetia. 15 Russian peacekeepers were killed with 70 others were wounded. Georgia claims 50 of its troops have been killed, and around 300 wounded.
2. 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.
SOUTH OSSETIA IN ACUTE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS OVER GEORGIA’S AGGRESSION
Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia has triggered an acute crisis in Georgia’s former autonomy. This came in a statement by the Russian former Minister Sergei Lavrov in a telephone conversation with the US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice.
For multimedia see: www.ruvr.ru
US sends more arms to Georgia – Israeli media
The United States is sending fresh supplies of weapons to Georgia from its base in the Jordanian port of Aqabah. That’s according to the Israeli newspaper – Maariv.
The paper says the US began flying weapons from the transport hub on Saturday.
According to Maariv, the US is hiring Russian-made freight planes belonging to UTI Worldwide Inc. to transport arms and ammunition to Georgia. The paper says the Pentagon is redirecting supplies to Tbilisi that were earmarked for Iraq.
The Aqabah terminal is used by the US to supply troops in Iraq. The American military relies on the hub mainly because it’s safer to use Aqabah than Iraq’s own ports in the Persian gulf.
Georgia stocks a wide range of weapons from many sources. This is a strategic move in case Russia were to block off the channels through which it gets its military supplies.
3. Georgia to drown ruined city – South Ossetia
The government in South Ossetia claims Georgia has reconnected water supplies to Tskhinvali in order to flood the war-ravaged city.
The breakaway republic’s head of Press and Information, Irina Gagloeva, says the plan is to inundate the city, to drive the remaining residents out of cellars and basements where they've taken shelter. She says the decision to switch on the
city’s water is very strange in the current context.
Georgia controls both the water and gas supply to South Ossetia. Tbilisi cut the water supply more than a month ago and the city is without gas.
Three days of Georgian shelling have left the breakaway republic’s capital in ruins and without energy. Supplies of food and water are also running out.
Meanwhile, a convoy of Russian aid has reportedly crossed the Russian-South Ossetian border and is heading to Tskhinvali.
4. 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.
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 Channel