Russia’s Ceasefire Terms

Russia will consider ceasefire and withdrawal of forces only after Georgia returns to pre-clashes status-quo and pulls its troops from “occupied” areas of South Ossetia, Vitaly Churkin, the Russia’s UN ambassador, said.

But he also stressed that return to status-quo should no way apply to the Russian forces currently fighting with the Georgian troops in the region.

“There must not be any illusions about that,” Churkin said. “In order to consider withdrawal of our forces we must make sure that there is no chance of genocide there.”

He was speaking after an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council – the third one in last few days. The Council has again failed to reach an agreement on the wording of an appeal for an end to the hostilities.

“There is a straightforward way to stop fighting, to stop killing: for Georgians to withdraw and then to have an agreement on non-use of force signed and then we can talk on other verity things, including [on] military and political arrangements,” Churkin said.

President Bush has also called for returning to the August 6 status-quo, but said it should be done by the both sides.

President Saakashvili said Tbilisi was ready to demilitarize the region if the Russian troops pulled out; international forces should fill the vacuum, he added.

The Russia’s UN ambassador said that the Russian forces in South Ossetia were engaged in “peacekeeping operation.”

He justified Russia’s air strikes outside South Ossetia by the need to undermine “certain Georgian military activity, which is supported from outside of South Ossetia.”

Scores of civilians were reportedly killed after the Russian warplanes dropped bombs in the town of Gori, close to the South Ossetian conflict zone. Port of Poti, military base in Senaki, airfields in Marneuli and Kopitnari were also targeted.

“We are not targeting any civilians. If there are any civilian casualties – that you can not rule out – this is of course deeply regrettable,” the Russian diplomat said. “There have been some reports of bombings outside the territory of South Ossetia and if there were some, they were in the context of support of peacemaking operation [in South Ossetia].”

[Source: Civil Georgia, Tbilisi, 10Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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