Refugees from the conflict take shelter in Tbilisi. Tensions look likely to escalate in Georgia and Russia, with Russian-backed separatists asking Moscow to recognise their independence.

There is still no sign that Russia is withdrawing the bulk of its force from Georgia, despite western demands for an immediate pull-out.

The self-styled leaders of Abkhazia in Georgia’s north-west have issued a fresh call asking Moscow to recognise their independence.

While Russia has backed the separatists in Abkhazia and in Georgia’s other breakaway province of South Ossetia, it has previously held back from formally recognising them as independent.

In the wake of the fighting that flared in South Ossetia two weeks ago, Russia has said Georgia can forget about ever regaining control of the region.

But Russia has also agreed to an international mechanism to sort out the future status of each province.

Georgia remains adamant they must not be allowed to break away, but it has few options.

United States President George W Bush has criticised the violence in the region and has offered more support for Georgia, saying the US will help ensure its territorial integrity.

Mr Bush has again criticised Russia for what he says was a disproportionate military action in Georgia.

He says the US will continue to support Georgia’s democracy.

“South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia and the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity,” he said.

Civilian deaths

Both countries have now issued revised death tolls from the fighting in South Ossetia that sparked their conflict.

In the first few days of fighting, both sides claimed thousands of civilians had been killed.

Russia now says it has the names of 133 civilians and 64 soldiers who died in South Ossetia.

Georgia says 215 of its people lost their lives, including around 70 civilians. It also says 300 Georgian soldiers are still missing.

The toll on both sides may rise again because officials still do not know how many people have been buried in unmarked graves.

Media show

A White House spokesman says Russian forces are not withdrawing quickly enough from Georgia and should step up the pace.

The soldiers are still dug-in in central Georgia, cutting the country in two.

ABC correspondent Scott Bevan is on a Russian Government media tour which has crossed into Georgia, where the Russian military has made a show of pulling back a unit of troops from Georgia.

Just 55 kilometres from the capital Tblisi, about 50 members from the unit from the Russian 58th Army stood to attention by the road.

Then, when the order was given and the cameras were rolling, the men ran over to nine armoured personnel carriers and drove off.

Military spokesman Colonel Igor Tikachenko has defended the time taken to pull back the troops from Georgia, saying a lot of logistics are involved.

The Colonel says the 58th unit should be back on Russian soil in a day or so.

Source : abc.net.au

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There has been no substantial withdrawal of Russian troops so far. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused NATO of adopting a policy against his country by supporting Georgia, after the alliance declared there can no longer be business as usual with Russia.

While NATO countries have criticised Russian military actions in Georgia over the past 13 days, Mr Lavrov has condemned the alliance’s support of the former Soviet state.

World leaders have continued to dispute whether Russia is pulling out of Georgia, with NATO sending a sharp message that until the Russians leave, relations are on ice: not a cold war but a signal the maps of Europe are not about to be redrawn in Russia’s favour.

“This document is a very clear statement that this alliance, NATO, having come so far after the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union in achieving a Europe that is whole free and at peace is not going to permit a new line to be drawn in Europe,” said US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

The Russians were quick to react.

“The way NATO assesses the fulfilment of this condition is biased. They blame us as if there were no requirements for the Georgian side,” Mr Lavrov said.

Mr Lavrov says instead of NATO telling Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili what to do to meet its standards, Mr Saakashvili has told the alliance what to do to meet his ambitions.

Georgia is hoping to join NATO and has been given indications by the alliance that is being considered.

That has infuriated Russia and Mr Lavrov says drawing Georgia into NATO is just an anti-Russian policy that supports an aggressive regime.

Russian withdrawal

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says all but 500 of his country’s troops should be withdrawn from Georgia by Thursday or Friday.

He says those that remain will stay in a buffer zone around the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Earlier the Kremlin quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying that Russian forces would pull back by August 22 to the positions set out under a French-brokered ceasefire.

That would require most of them to withdraw to Russia or South Ossetia but parts of the force, under the terms of the deal, will remain in a buffer zone around the breakaway region.

“By 22 August… a part of the peacekeepers will be pulled back to the temporary security zone,” a Kremlin statement quoted Mr Medvedev as telling French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a telephone conversation.

There has been no substantial withdrawal of Russian troops so far, despite official statements that the pull-out is underway.

Russia’s deputy chief of the general staff, General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, says the pullout has been slow because Georgia has not returned all its troops to bases as agreed.

He says in South Ossetia there are a lot of abandoned Georgian vehicles that have to be cleared.

But the General says the pullout will accelerate on August 22 when Russian peacekeeping posts are in place in South Ossetia.

UN draft resolution

Meanwhile the United Nations Security Council has again failed to take a vote on a draft resolution demanding full compliance with the proposed ceasefire between Russia and Georgia.

After another emergency meeting in New York today, the 15-member UN Security Council has failed to reach agreement on a resolution demanding full compliance with a French-brokered ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Russian troops.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, says Russia is withdrawing troops anyway.

“[The resolution] is a waste of time. Let me tell you it’s a waste of time because the process of the withdrawal of Russian forces will continue,” he said.

Georgia’s ambassador, Irakli Alasania, does not believe that.

“There’s no signs, as I mentioned, that they are preparing for the withdrawal,” he said.

“The rampage, the looting is still going on.”

Russia has a veto power in the Security Council.

Refugees

World leaders argue, but 150,000 people displaced by the fighting have little time for politics.

Some have no homes to return to, others – like those at a camp in Tbilisi – simply do not know what is happening.

Desperate, they live in Red Cross tents near the airport, as American aid flights arrive overhead.

Everyone wants to return home but not while the Russians are there.

Liz Ochalachvili fled from a village right near the border.

She told correspondent Philip Williams that Russian troops shot at the wheels of the car she was in. She said they were all beaten, the men stripped and called pigs.

She said they were lined up along the roadside and thought they were about to be executed. Two boys approached in a car and both were shot dead. A man in the street was also killed.

She said three more boys were gunned down, but she did not know if they died.

Sharing the tents was a single mother of two, Tamara Tabutson. She fled the now occupied city of Gori and fears a return could mean kidnap, rape or murder.

“In Gori, no-one told us to leave or helped us to leave. No-one. No car would stop. Now I see that we must take care of ourselves. Even here,” she said.

There are similar stories of atrocities and fear on both sides.

Source : abc.net.au

UPDATE: Interesting comment from the LEGENDARY Mike Rivero:
“Bottom line: We still do not know who shelled the Russian barracks, killing ten men and wounding thirty others. This was the spark that set off the conflict.”

This is in fact true, WHO DID shell the Barracks, Who stands to gain?

This report from TWO days before the Russian intervention clearly shows that GEORGIA is the aggressor and that Russia had to intervene. Where was the USA when the Snipers were killing the South Ossetians and the Georgians were shelling the Civilians?


Russian president Dmitry Medvedev followed the president of Georgia, Dmitry Medvedev and signed the ceasefire agreement on Saturday. The peace plan document was originally drafted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France. Medvedev announced having signed the document during a meeting of the Russian Security Council.

The truce was signed by Saakashvili on Friday, after a long meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Following the meeting, a press conference was held in which Saakashvili stated that he had signed the accord. But he pointed out that “this is not a done deal. We need to do our utmost to deter such behaviour in the future.”

By signing the agreement, both sides agree to pull back their forces to pre-conflict positions. Rice has demanded that Russian forces withdraw from Georgia immediately. The accord also provides protection for Georgia and a “reconstruction plan”, as well as allowing certain concessions to Russia.

Russia advanced into the Georgian break-away province of South Ossetia on August 7 to aid the rebels who had been battling Georgian troops. On August 11, Russian troops landed in Abkhazia and Ossetia advanced far beyond South Ossetia’s borders into Georgian home turf and stopped only about 30 miles from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

Initially Medvedev said that he had ordered Russian troops to begin leaving Georgia on August 11. However, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov refused to put a timetable on the withdrawal of Russian forces from deep inside Georgia and stated that their departure depended on extra security measures being put in place. Lavrov also said Russia would strengthen its contingent in South Ossetia. In a letter to Saakashvili, Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that according to the signed peace plan, Russian forces are obliged to withdraw from all major Georgian towns regardless of the “additional security measures” mentioned in the document. According to Sarkozy, these additional measures refer to the border area only. At the same time Georgian internal affairs ministry reported that Russian forces changed the administrative borders of Abkhazia, and captured one of the Georgian power plants in the area. It is also reported that Russian forces destroyed the strategic Georgian rail bridge in Kaspi.

According to Lavrov, the document Saakashvili signed differed from the one signed by Medvedev, lacking its introductory part.

Source : wikinews

Mikheil Saakashvili

The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili had signed a ceasefire agreement today in the presence of United States (US) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

An identical document, requiring the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces from Georgian soil, was signed earlier this week, according to the New York Times, by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Saakashvili stated that Georgia would “never, ever surrender” to Russia. The ceasefire document was originally drafted by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France.

Saakashvili has stated that NATO had been “inviting Russian aggression” by rejecting Georgia’s attempt to enter NATO back in April of this year. Meanwhile, in a report promptly denied by Russian official, the Human Rights Watch said it had evidence that Russia attacked populated areas of Georgia with internationally banned cluster bombs.

Rice arrived in Georgia on Friday, and according to Saakashvili, the pair met for about five hours. Following the meeting, a press conference was held in which Saakashvili stated that he had in fact signed the accord. But he pointed out that “this is not a done deal. We need to do our utmost to deter such behavior in the future.”

Rice has demanded that Russian forces withdraw from Georgia immediately. The accord also provides protection for Georgia and a “reconstruction plan”, as well as allowing certain concessions to Russia.

Russia advanced into the break-away province of South Ossetia on August 7 to aid the South Ossetian rebels who had been battling Georgian troops. On the 11th of August Russian troops advanced into Georgian home turf from their base in Abkhazia. Medvedev said that he had ordered Russian troops to begin leaving Georgia on August 11.

Source : wikinews

Russian Москва cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet

Ukraine‘s President Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree limiting the movement of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukrainian waters in response to its deployment in a blockade of Georgia‘s sea ports during the Russia-Georgia conflict. Ukraine has already before urged Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia’s territory. Last weekend Ukraine threatened to refuse the Russian vessels reentry to the Sevastopol naval base if they became involved in the conflict in Georgia.

The Russian fleet is based in Sevastopol on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula under an agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine. Under the terms of the decree, the Russian navy is compelled to obtain Ukrainian permission 72 hours in advance of the departure of any of its warships or aircraft. Ukraine’s foreign ministry would be empowered to demand a vessel leave Ukrainian territory if the Russians did not comply.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the Ukrainian move as reflecting “an obsessive desire to please NATO and join it.” Russian deputy chief of General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, dismissed the decree as “nonsense” and said that the order would make Russia’s Black Sea Fleet subordinate to the Ukrainian government. According to Russian RIA Novosti news agency, Yushchenko sent a proposal to Russia on Friday to draft a bilateral agreement on the Russian Black Sea fleet deployed in Ukraine.

Georgian Chief of Staff Serhiy Kirichenko said on Thursday that the presidential decree would be carried out, no matter what.

Source : wikinews

https://i0.wp.com/images.theage.com.au/2008/08/09/177225/LHgeorgian-420x0.jpgDmitry Medvedev, the President of Russia, announced the end of Russian military operations in Georgia. In a statement made earlier today, Medvedev declared that the reason for Russia to cease operations was the humanitarian crisis in the region.

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed the instructions to the Defense Ministry to stop the military operation. The news came hours before the presidents of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania were scheduled to visit Tbilisi, and the president of France was to visit Moscow. The prime ministers of Latvia and Estonia are also planned to visit Tbilisi later today.

Just before the announcement there were reports of the Russian forces bombing the Georgian town of Gori. The declaration of the Kremlin puts an end to the four-day Russian offensive inside Georgia.

On August 7, following days of fire exchange with South Ossetian separatist units, Georgia launched an offensive against Tskhinvali, the capital of the region. The next day Russian forces entered Georgia and began to bomb targets in the country.

On August 10, the Russian Black Sea Fleet began a naval blockade of the Poti Georgian port and landed several thousand Russian troops in Abkhazia in western Georgia. Ukraine threatened to bar Russian warships dispatched to the Abkhazian coast from returning to their Ukrainian base of Sevastopol if they were to engage in any military action.

Source : wikinews