Russia warns NATO against re-equipping Georgia's military

Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned Wednesday NATO against filling the gap of losses of the Georgian military incurred in its conflict with Russia.

"Any attempt of NATO to fill the gap of losses of the Georgian army contradicts the conventions of the OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe)," Rogozin told reporters.

All NATO countries, Russia and Georgia are members of the OSCE.

He said the provision of strategic armament to Georgia and the flight of NATO reconnaissance planes along Russia's borders as requested by Georgia are regarded as hostile actions to Russia.

He warned that these actions may make Russia change its position on its relationship with the West, including military cooperation and on Moscow's policy on Iran.

He said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's "outrageous demands" must be rejected by the West as they are dangerous for the whole world.

He added, however, that Moscow is not cutting off ties with the West. Several cooperation activities have been called off. But the total cancellation of the projects is not happening.

"The cooling down of the relationship should not lead to complete freezing," he said.

He also asked Western politicians and diplomats to tone down their rhetoric against Russia and begin talks.

"I would like the megaphone to be left aside and we would proceed to calm and serious discussions of what is to be done to (begin) the immediate peace building in the region," he said.

He again warned that Georgia's NATO membership is dangerous for Europe as that may lead to direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

Georgia launched attacks in South Ossetia on Aug. 7 in an attempt to regain control of the breakaway region. Tbilisi's move triggered prompt reaction from Russia, whose troops drove Georgian forces out of the region and took parts of Georgian territory.

The West is accusing Russia of being slow in troops withdrawal which is provided for in a peace agreement. Russia has said the pullout is to be completed by Friday.

[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 20Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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