August 28, 2008
On the situation around South Ossetia and Abkhazia (press review)
1. SCO supports Russia’s role in South Ossetia
Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation have signed a declaration in support of Russia's peacekeeping mission in South Ossetia.
The SCO member countries have expressed their deep concern over the situation in South Ossetia and praised Russia for its role in the peacekeeping campaign in the region, says the text of the declaration the participants signed in the Tajik
capital of Dushanbe today. The SCO leaders welcome the six-principle peace plan signed by the opposing sides and spoke for the development of international contacts between the embers and discussed the expansion of the SCO.
The declaration is a direct response to President Dmitry Medvedev’s call to support Russia’s role in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence dispute. Speaking at the SCO summit in
Dushanbe, Medvedev thanked the SCO members for their understanding and objective evaluation of Russia’s peacekeeping mission.
“Unfortunately, we have to state that attempts are being made to secure certain interests using force, not the principles of strict observance of international law and denial of confrontational bloc thinking,” said the President.
“A fine example of such irresponsible criminal actions is Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia. It is well-known who connived with the Georgian authorities and even incited them, pursuing their own profit. Such behavior is unacceptable
and should be stopped. In such an extreme situation, we remained reserved and continued our responsible and predictable policy.
“We are confident that the position of SCO member states will produce an appropriate resonance through the international community, and I hope this will give a serious signal to those who are trying to justify the aggression that was committed,”
Medvedev added in his address to SCO national leaders.
2. U.S. may have staged Georgian conflict – Putin
In an interview with CNN Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict may have been staged to secure a victory for one of the presidential candidates in the U.S. He says preliminary reports show that
U.S. citizens may have been present in the combat zone.
“We have serious reasons to believe that American citizens were right at the heart of the military action. This would have implications for American domestic policy. If this is confirmed, we will have grounds to suspect that somebody in the
U.S. has created this conflict to aggravate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the presidential candidates”.
Russia’s Prime Minister also commented on the media coverage of the recent events.
“As far as the perception of these events by the general public goes, it depends not only on politicians, but also on how artful they are in controlling the mass media. And our American colleagues do this much better than we do and there's a
lot we can learn from them”.
Putin stressed that Russia did not attack and cannot be portrayed as an aggressor.
“We didn’t attack anyone, we were attacked and therefore we need guarantees that we won’t be attacked again, and that our citizens won't be killed. They are trying to present us as aggressors”.
The Prime Minister has given a detailed chronology of the events between August 7 and 10.
“On 7 August, at 14:42, the Georgian peacekeepers left the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces under the pretext that they'd received orders from their commanders to leave their posts, and they never returned.
One hour later, heavy artillery shelling began.
At 22:35 a massive bombardment of Tsklhinval started. At 22:50 the transfer of Georgian ground troops started to the combat area. At the same time Georgian field hospitals were set up.
And at 23:30 the Brigadeer General commanding the Georgian peacekeeping forces announced that Georgia has declared a war against South Ossetia. They announced this publicly, looking straight into the TV cameras.
At that point we tried to contact the Georgian leadership, but everyone refused to talk to us.
At 12:45 AM on the 8th of August the Georgian commander repeated his statement. So who attacked whom?”
The former Russian president reiterated that the country has ‘no intention of attacking anyone, or of fighting a war with anyone’.
“For eight years while I was President I often heard one and the same question – what place does Russia think it should occupy in the world? We are a peace-loving state and want to co-operate with all our neighbours and other states. But if
someone thinks they can just come in and kill us, and that our place is in the cemetery, these people should think of the consequences of such policies”.
3. Georgia wins popularity points for McCain
With U.S. politicians calling for the international community to isolate Russia, talks on a 'new cold war' have become more frequent in the media. The roots of the strong rhetoric go deeper, though, than the recent conflict with
Georgia. Presidential hopefuls are using it as an opportunity to earn some foreign policy credentials.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington rose after President Medvedev recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent. President Bush called the move "irrational", urging Moscow to reverse it. Tough talk has also come from Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In response, Russia has made it clear it doesn't seek confrontation, but it's ready for the worst.
“We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War. But of course, we don't want that,” said Medvedev on Tuesday.
The cold war rhetoric started long before the conflict in Georgia. The two sides have wrangled over U.S. plans of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. What has only poured oil into the fire is the U.S. now finally signing the agreement with
Poland and the Czech Republic to host elements of the system on their territories.
Some experts argue what we see now is in some way the consequences of President Bush’s foreign policy mistakes.
Matthew Duss from the Centre for American Progress said: “The United States could have dealt more productively or helped Russia in Georgia to deal with this issue more productively starting years ago. I think that goes to the kind of weakness of
George W. Bush’s foreign policy.”
At the height of the Russia-Georgia conflict McCain has repeatedly attacked Russia much more frequently and vehemently than his rival Barack Obama. Experts say experience in foreign policy and knowledge of Russia, Europe and the Middle East are
McCain’s advantages over his rival. And McCain has tried to play this card to cast his opponent as weak when it comes to foreign policy choices.
But the tough strategy might not be a winning one for McCain and the country - given the U.S. already has two wars to deal with.
4. Russia finishes probe into Georgia’s aggression against S.Ossetia
The Russian Prosecutor’s Office Investigative Committee is finishing a probe into Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia, the head of the committee Alexander Bastrykin told at a pres-conference in Tskhinval Thursday.
He said there were collected almost 5,000 of material evidence, including documents and munitions. More than 4,500 injured persons were questioned and more than 400 inspections carried out. Georgian captives were testified.
The preliminary investigation proves that the Georgian peacekeepers and soldiers attacked the Russian peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia and thus committed an international crime. Despite their military advantages, the Georgian troops were
defeated by Russians, who had enough courage to save the people of South Ossetia from Georgian genocide.
5. Georgian troops should return to places of their permanent dislocation
The Georgian troops should return to the places of their permanent dislocation. In a telephone talk with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarcozy on Wednesday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed the necessity to fulfill this clause of the
The Russian leader described to him in detail the present-day situation – the situation, which emerged after Russia’s recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Under discussion were also new agreements that could ensure in future
the security regime in the zones bordering on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Medvedev confirmed that he is ready to continue his contacts with Sarcozy, including the possibility of organizing their meeting in Russia.
According to: Voice of Russia State Broadcasting Radio Company, Russia Today TV Channel