Russia asks NATO council to postpone visit to Georgia

Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, on Wednesday asked NATO's decision-making body to postpone a planned visit to Georgia.

Rogozin said the North Atlantic Council visit, scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday, is being interpreted by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's administration as political and military support to the Caucasian country.

"We calls on NATO to refrain from visiting Georgia at high political level because it is being interpreted by the Saakashvili administration and Saakashvili himself as total political and military support," Rogozin told reporters.

He said Saakashvili's regime should not receive support as it was the aggressor of South Ossetia.

NATO decided to strengthen relations with Georgia after a five-day war between Georgia and Russia.

Georgia on Aug. 7 launched attack on South Ossetia, which has enjoyed de facto independence since 1992, in an attempt to retake control of the region. Russia sent troops into the region on the next day and defeated Georgian forces.

The West accused Russia of bullying its small neighbor. But Moscow argued that its military operations were intended to protect civilians and enforce peace in the region. Russia's recognition of the two regions as independent states on Aug. 26 further enraged the West.

Rogozin on Wednesday appealed for an arms embargo on Georgia and asked European Union and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe countries to put in place such an embargo.

He also warned the United States against delivering military aid to Georgia under the disguise of humanitarian aid.

U.S. ships in the Black Sea are not supposed to transport humanitarian aid, he said. "They are battle and reconnaissance ships."

He said the U.S. tonnage in the Black Sea has reached 29,485 tons, against a maximum of 30,000 tons allowed by the Montreux Convention, which regulates tonnage and length of stay for non-Black Sea navies in this area.

Although the presence of U.S. and NATO warships in the Black Sea has not violated the Montreux Convention, the deployment "does not facilitate the stabilization of the region," he said.

[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 10Sep08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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