Georgian conflict to lead to NATO buildup around Belarus

The recent Georgian-South Ossetian conflict will lead to a buildup of NATO forces near Belarusian borders, the country's president said Friday.

"Literally over the last few days, geopolitical differences in the Caucasus have led to military confrontation. The events that followed have greatly exacerbated the international situation. A direct consequence, I believe, will be a buildup of military-political positions by the North Atlantic bloc, and all this will occur, primarily, near our state's borders," Alexander Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian leader, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the United States, said certain missile defense elements are being deployed in neighboring countries, in particular, Poland. He also said media reports have said that new NATO bases are being established in Baltic States.

Russia officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia's military offensive on August 8 in which hundreds of civilians died and thousands were forced to flee the region.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier Friday NATO's course toward confrontation with Russia will lead to irreversible consequences.

"We consider it necessary to stress that NATO's confrontation with Russia, its attempts to put u under pressure, are utterly unacceptable and could have irreversible consequences for the military-political climate and stability on the continent," Andrei Nesterenko said.

The current standoff, in which ties between NATO and Russia have been frozen, has sparked media speculation that the seven leading industrial powers could oust Russia from the G8. However, the G7 statement avoided any hint of such a move, and British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed Wednesday that there were no such plans.

[Source: Novosti, Minks, 29Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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