Russia's Lavrov slams Bush statement on South Ossetia
Russia's foreign minister criticized on Wednesday comments made by the U.S. president on fighting in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia as being based on unverified reports.
Sergei Lavrov also said Washington has to choose between cooperation with Russia and Georgian leaders who he described as a "virtual project" for the United States.
President George W. Bush said on Wednesday Russia must observe a ceasefire in the separatist province and said he would send military aircraft and naval vessels with humanitarian aid to Georgia.
Bush also said he was alarmed by reports that Russia had blocked Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti.
"I listened to George Bush's statement ... and was surprised ... the facts he cited are untrue," Lavrov said, echoing earlier denials by Russian officials that Russian troops were not advancing on Georgia's capital Tbilisi.
"We understand that the U.S. is concerned about the fate of this project, but the United States will have to choose between defending its prestige over a virtual project or real partnership which requires joint action," the minister said
But what Bush failed to mention, Lavrov said, was the arming of Georgia in recent years, including by the U.S., which also trained Georgian troops.
He said Moscow had warned Washington that it was "a dangerous game."
"No mention was made about what happened on August 8, when Western leaders fell silent while Tskhinvali was shelled and bombed," Lavrov said.
Lavrov said "the Western political elite only got excited, when Russia made the decision not to abandon its peacekeepers and to prevent ethnic cleansing, sending reinforcements to carry out an operation to force Georgia to accept peace."
"There was also no mention of our efforts in recent years to broker a ceasefire deal between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi."
[Source: Novosti, Moscow, 13Aug08]
The Question of South Ossetia
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