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The United States Friday expressed disappointment after Russia effectively vetoed a plan to keep peace monitors in Georgia after June. U.S. officials say Russia insisted on a plan that would implicitly recognize the self-declared independence of the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
The State Department said it regrets the breakdown of talks over extending the presence of the peace monitors in Georgia and is disappointed by the Russian position. But State Department officials say they still retain hope that Moscow will accept a Greek compromise plan and allow the continuation of the peacekeeping effort by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"Unfortunately, Russia insisted on a monitoring operation structured to reflect Russia's recognition of South Ossetia's independence," he said. "We commend the Georgian delegation for its constructive approach, and are disappointed that Russia could not accept the Greek chairmanship's constructive, status-neutral solution."
Kelly said the United States views a monitoring presence in Georgia as essential and hopes Moscow, which also acknowledges a need for monitors, will eventually accept the Greek plan. In the absence of an agreement, the OSCE presence will end on June 30.
TBILISI, Georgia —
Police in Georgia say an explosion has ripped the front door off a television production company building during a live show critical of the president.
Nobody was injured in the explosion at Maestro television Monday morning.
A hand grenade exploded on Monday outside the studios of an anti-government Georgian television station involved in an opposition street campaign to oust President Mikheil Saakashvili, the station said.
Maestro Television, which broadcasts mainly to the capital Tbilisi, said no one was hurt in the blast. The door to the studios was sprayed with shrapnel.
Reports say that apparently a hand-grenade was tossed at the television station’s entrance door. “We have spoken with a military expert who suggested that RGD type hand-grenade was likely used,” Natia Mikiashivili, chief of the television station’s news program, said.
Maestro TV said that the police came to the incident site only 50 minutes later and forensic detectives came on the site about 90 minutes later. Mamuka Glonti, owner of the television station also said that 20 minutes after the blast policemen, who were patrolling on a nearby street, were approached and asked to come to the incident site, but, he said, they had refused and left the area.
Originally posted by Hellmutt
...Sooner or later, Russia and NATO will have to agree on which countries should be independent or not. If they don't agree on this, there will be military confrontations.
Georgian officials and some Western diplomats have been issuing increasingly dire warnings that the Kremlin -- which has made no secret of its desire to see Saakashvili deposed -- is laying the groundwork for an invasion, less than a year after the two countries fought a five-day war last August.
"Russia did not accomplish its goals in the first war," Baku-based political analyst Shahin Abbasov said in a recent appearance on RFE/RL's "Caucasus Crossroads" program.
"The goal was not the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The goal was to shut the West out of Georgia and the entire region. That goal was not achieved," Abbasov said. "I don't know how the situation is going to develop, but I would not rule out further escalation."
TBILISI, Georgia — The opposition to President Mikheil Saakashvili, which has been holding protests for more than six weeks demanding his resignation, took control of the city’s main railroad station on Tuesday night and prevented trains from running.
Demonstrators gathered at the railroad station after attending a mass rally earlier at a stadium in Tbilisi, the capital. The move represented an escalation of the opposition’s tactics, and it indicated that its leaders were now trying to put economic pressure on Mr. Saakashvili after failing to remove him with protests.
A YEAR AGO, Russian military maneuvers and provocations of the former Soviet republic of Georgia caused a couple of astute observers to predict that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a military invasion of its democratic and pro-Western neighbor. The warnings were laughed off -- until Russian forces poured across Georgia's borders on the night of Aug. 7, routing the Georgian army and driving thousands of ethnic Georgians from two breakaway provinces. Ten months later, with another summer approaching, Russia is once again mounting provocations on the ground and in diplomatic forums; once again it has scheduled a large military training exercise for July in the region bordering Georgia.
Could Vladimir Putin be contemplating another military operation to finish off the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili -- whom Mr. Putin once vowed to "hang by his balls"? Once again, the scenario is easy to dismiss: The Russian leadership, after all, is engaged in an effort to "reset" relations with the United States; it is seeking support in Europe for discussions on a new "security architecture." Another fight with Georgia could blow up both efforts.
Defensive fortifications are being set up around Tbilisi in anticipation of a possible military strike on the Georgian capital, according to a Georgian media report.
Rezonansi, an opposition-minded daily, claimed that in addition to Tbilisi, fortifications are being built near the administrative border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia, where Russia has troops stationed. Defense Ministry officials were not available to confirm or to deny the June 4 report.
In interviews with the paper, independent military experts stated that defense measures are being taken to protect Tbilisi. "This step is correct and logical because occupying troops are stationed just a few kilometers away from the capital [in the breakaway region of South Ossetia - ed] and its is clear that, in such conditions, this country should make sure it tightens security measures," expert Irakli Sesiashvili was quoted as saying.
Another analyst, Mamuka Areshidze, director of the Caucasus Strategic Studies Center, said that security zones have been set up around Tbilisi to stall any potential Russian offensive. "I do not expect an attack right now, but threats persist and we should be prepared in an appropriate manner," Areshidze said.
MOSCOW (AP)–Russia’s top general said Georgia had fully rearmed its military after last year’s war with Russia, news agencies reported Friday.
The comments by Gen. Nikolai Makarov were the latest in a series of increasingly belligerent accusations between Moscow and Tbilisi, leading some analysts to warn that the two sides could be gearing up for a new fight.
Makarov, chief of the Russian military’s general staff, was quoted by ITAR-Tass and Interfax as saying that Georgia now has more weaponry than it did before the August war.
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) -- Georgia is continuing to militarize even though it clearly has not ruled out using force in regard to its former republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia’s NATO envoy said on Friday.
“We have all the necessary information, including classified, about those who continue to deliver weapons to Georgia and at what volumes,” Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station. “This information is dispiriting.”
Although he did not identify the countries involved he said that Russia is making bilateral contact to tell them that Moscow knew of the weapons deliveries.
The result of an EU-sponsored enquiry into the origins of the 2008 Georgia war is set to be delayed by two months, amid rising fears of fresh hostilities in the region.
Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, in charge of the probe, said she needs more time due to fresh material coming to light at a late stage, EU sources explained.
Ms Tagliavini's findings could prove politically explosive.
If the report hangs blame on Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili, it could reinforce calls from Russia and the Georgian opposition for him to step down. If it burdens Russia, it could damage EU-Russia relations and impact Russia's participation in international conflict resolution mechanisms.
IIFFMCG documents leaked to German magazine Der Spiegel in June look bad for the Georgian leader.
One of the enquiry's experts, retired British colonel Christopher Langton, said the "country can only blame itself" for Russia's reaction. Another expert, German lawyer Otto Luchterhandt, said Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia were entitled to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN charter.
He is currently holding talks with the territory's separatist leader, Eduard Kokoity, in the capital, Tskhinvali.
Georgia still regards South Ossetia as part of its sovereign territory.
Tbilisi said Mr Medvedev's visit on Monday, less than a month before the anniversary of last year's conflict, was an act of provocation.
“I think, what happened today will enter the diplomatic history of Russia – which I have studied - as the most immoral and shameful precedent in centuries.
It is shameful because while the leader of small Georgia is out of the country and along with many other leaders of the world is resolving very important global issues, the president of such a big country – Russia, stole into one of the smallest regions of ours [South Ossetia] and visited, as if for negotiations, unwashed, murderer, corrupt criminal. To say the truth, I cannot remember, whether such things have previously occurred in the history of Russia.
Georgian police post in the village of Nikozi at the South Ossetian administrative border came under “intense fire” from the breakaway region’s capital Tskhinvali late on July 29, the Georgian Interior Ministry said.
The South Ossetian side, however, said that fire was opened by the Georgian side from the village of Nikozi.
Despite Russia’s attempt to totally destroy the Georgian army in last year’s war, the Georgian military’s “combative spirit and level of training is high as never before,” President Saakashvili said on July 30.
One year since the military conflict in the Caucasus, it is feared that hostilities might resume. South Ossetian authorities claim the republic’s capital Tskhinval was attacked from a Georgian village.
Two shells were reportedly fired from around five kilometers away from the Georgian village of Nikozi during the night. Luckily, no one was injured, a source at the Ossetian Defense Ministry told Interfax agency.
This follows reports that one man has been killed and several people injured at the border between Georgia and South Ossetia
According to a source at the South Ossetian information ministry, quoted by RIA Novosti agency, the shells targeted residential buildings.
The source added that it is the first case of Tskhinval coming under fire since the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in August last year.
At the same time, Tbilisi claims its village was also fired upon from South Ossetian territory.
By Matt Robinson
TBILISI (Reuters) - South Ossetia accused Georgian forces of firing mortars at the rebel territory on Saturday and Russia warned Tbilisi it reserved the right to use force to defend civilians a year after their five-day war.
Georgia denied any shooting took place and, amid rising tension ahead of the Aug 7 anniversary of the war, said the Russian statement suggested "aggressive intent". Analysts warn of the risk of skirmishes boiling over into renewed hostilities.
South Ossetia said two mortar rounds were fired at a military observation post from the village of Ditsi on the Georgian side of the de facto border, which runs a few hundred metres from the southern edge of the rebel capital Tskhinvali.
South Ossetia made a similar accusation on Thursday, and a Reuters reporter heard two loud blasts from the rebel capital Tskhinvali but could not identify the cause.
"In the event of further acts of provocation threatening the population of the republic and the Russian military contingent based in the territory of South Ossetia, the Russian Defence Ministry reserves the right to use all available force and means to defend the citizens of the republic of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen," the ministry said in a statement, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
In case of further provocation, a threat to the population of the republic and the Russian troops stationed on the territory of South Ossetia, the Ministry of Defense of Russia reserves the right to use all available forces and means to protect the citizens of the Republic of South Ossetia and Russian troops.
TSKHINVALI. July 31 (Interfax) - Head of the Russian Border Service
Vladimir Pronichev on Friday informed South Ossetian President Eduard
Kokoity that Russian border guards have begun patrolling the border
between South Ossetia and Georgia.
"By way of implementing the decisions that you and President Dmitry
Medvedev made we have started guarding the state border and today we
have a fully deployed grouping and all the necessary reserves,"
Pronichev said to Kokoity.
MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted a bill expanding legal reasons to deploy Russian troops abroad, the Kremlin said Monday.
The bill released by the Kremlin would allow the president to send troops outside Russia to fend off attacks on the Russian military, deter aggression against another state, protect Russian citizens or combat pirates.
The Kremlin-controlled parliament is expected to swiftly approve the bill when it meets in September after the summer break.
Medvedev told leaders of Russia's political parties Monday that the war with Georgia a year ago highlighted the need for the bill expanding deployment rules.
Friday, August 14
Two civilians were killed in explosions in the Abkhazian seaside town of Gagra on August 12, with at least three others reported wounded.
Several hours later another blast occurred in Sokhumi, the capital of breakaway Abkhazia. No injuries were reported on that occasion.
The incidents coincided with the visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia.
The Russian and Georgian media have noted that the explosion in Sokhumi on August 12 may have been intended to kill Putin, who was believed to have been having supper in a restaurant 100 metres from the site of the blast, however the administration of the separatist region has said that Putin had already left Abkhazia when the explosion took place, although some of his team were there.
In an interview to RIA Novosti, Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba discusses the role of the United States in the war in South Ossetia, the effectiveness of a European Union peacekeeping mission in Georgia, and whose laws Belarusian citizens should respect in Sukhumi.
Question: Last week, there were reports that American observers might join the EU mission in Georgia. EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby followed up by saying that a discussion could be held in the fall. What is your attitude to this idea?
Answer: Our attitude is distinctly negative. First, because the idea does not stem from the mission’s mandate worded in keeping with the agreements reached by the Russian and French presidents – the mandate provides for no American participation. Second, the question can be examined if there is a common wish to expand the mission, but we do not consider it advisable because we see no additional factor of stability in an American presence. On the contrary, we have always emphasized that the U.S. bears considerable responsibility for the events that took place in August 2008 in South Ossetia. Therefore, we do not trust the Americans. All these years the U.S. has been arming, equipping and training Georgian troops and continues to do so, again restoring military infrastructure, and again preparing the Georgian army for new acts of aggression. This sticks out like a sore thumb.
What were the American instructors training the Georgian army for here, on Abkhazia’s territory, at the upper end of the Kodori Gorge? For an attack on Abkhazia. We are perfectly aware that attempts to instill a new combative spirit in the Georgian army will create a new threat in the region. And we do not see the American side as a factor contributing to stability in the area. Therefore we are absolutely opposed to this idea, and will not let Americans in, at least on our territory.
What is more, we said straight away that attempts to include the Americans in the EU mission are also calling in question our participation in the five-country meeting to prevent and investigate incidents involving Abkhazia, Russia, Georgia, the EU and UN.
This idea also casts doubt over our role in the Geneva process. Besides, a recent decision extended the EU mission in Georgia in its former format for one more year and provided for no American presence.
Q: What do you think of the effectiveness of the EU mission in the region?
A: So far, we see no effectiveness in the moves taken by the European Union in Georgia. We have repeatedly stated that the EU does not react in any way to Georgia’s military build-up on the border and to its creation of new threats. So we do not consider the EU’s steps to be effective. But joint actions and complaints that can be voiced during five-party meetings may prove effective. Time will tell.
Q: How can one view recommendations by the Foreign Ministry of Belarus to its citizens to observe Georgian laws in Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
A: Unfortunately, the spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry has not been very correct and proper in his statement. Even Germany and Poland, which also made similar recommendations, did it in milder form – German diplomats did not recommend their citizens to visit Georgia after Abkhazia. The point is that the Belarusian diplomat’s statement was caused by circumstances in which the Georgian leadership placed Belarusian citizens, when it began detaining and arresting people because they had previously visited Abkhazia. Belarus had to warn its citizens of this danger, but did not do it tactfully enough.
There is already a statement by the foreign minister of Belarus, however, who said that the issue of recognizing Abkhazia is not off the agenda yet.
Q: Recently, Commander of Airborne Troops of Russia Vladimir Shamanov said that Russia would help Abkhazia and South Ossetia to set up small aviation units. What do you think of Tbilisi’s threats to go to the international court if Russian aircraft fly over Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
A: We do not generally heed such statements; they mean little to us. We are developing relations with Russia in the military, economic and other fields. As far as our security is concerned, we will do everything necessary for the safety of our country. We have concluded an agreement on the joint protection of the border. The border will have cutting edge technology. Before long we will sign an agreement on a military base and many other accords. In this sense, deployment of small aviation units in Abkhazia is of great interest to us.
The main thing is that we do not threaten anyone. There has not been a single act of aggression from us in the entire history of our relations with Georgia. Georgia, on the other hand, has committed four such acts against Abkhazia since the breakdown of the Soviet Union.
This is a second dismissal in Georgia's government in less than seven days. Last Friday, Economic Development Minister Lazha Zhvaniya was dismissed by the premier and replaced by Zurab Pololikashvili, who had earlier been Georgia's ambassador to Spain.
In line with Georgia's Constitution, should five ministers be replaced, the issue of the Cabinet's makeup is put to parliament for approval.