Russia's allies side with Moscow against Georgia

Russia's allies in a post-Soviet defence pact sided with Moscow against Georgia in the South Ossetia crisis even as Nicaragua became the second country after Russia to recognise Georgia's breakaway territories.

Meeting in Moscow on Wednesday the Foreign Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) denounced Georgia's attack on its breakaway enclave and voiced support for the Russian retaliation.

The Ministers said they were deeply concerned about Georgia's military actions in South Ossetia, which caused multiple civilian casualties, deaths among Russian peacekeepers, and a major humanitarian catastrophe.

The Russia-led CSTO includes Belarus, Armenia and the Asian ex-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The tragedy in South Ossetia has shown the dangers of a military build-up in the Caucasus and of attempts to resolve conflicts by resorting to force, the Foreign Ministers of the CSTO said in a statement adopted at their one-day meeting. The events around South Ossetia showed the danger of double standards in international relations.

The Ministers support Russia's active role in promoting peace and cooperation in the Caucasus and are in favour of offering solid security for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the statement said.

Last week the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation backed Russia on its conflict with Georgia at the organisation's summit meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The leftwing President of Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega on Wednesday announced his decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He voiced full support for Russia and slammed political hegemonies that he said were trying to surround Russia and build a military fence against Russia.

As Russia received support from allies, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Tbilisi to unveil a $1-billion aid package to Georgia. Speaking in the Georgian capital he denounced Russia's invasion of Georgia and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to redraw its borders.

A day earlier Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev called on the U.S. to reassess its relations with the regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili, which had unleashed aggression leading to numerous casualties.

The U.S. had actively helped Georgia build up its military machine, pouring money and weapons into it [and] at some point gave Mr. Saakashvili carte blanche… for aggression, the Russian leader said in an interview.

[Source: By Vladimir Radyuhin,The Hindu, Moscow, 05Sep08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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