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Moscow calls for embargo against Tbilisi

By Temuri Kiguradze
Wednesday, October 8
Russia has appealed for an “urgent” international embargo on the supply of offensive weapons to Georgia. Moscow is claiming that such an embargo will lead to peace in the conflict zones.

“We consider that the ideal way to have ensured the security of the region would have been to place an embargo on the supply of arms to the existing Georgian regime, and we deeply believe that such an international prohibition on the supply of the offensive weapons is needed as an urgent step now,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a press conference in Moscow on October 8. Lavrov also stated that an embargo will be discussed at international talks in Geneva on October 15. These talks are to be held according to the agreement signed between the Russian and French Presidents, also known as the “Sarkozy-Medvedev plan.” Lavrov is sure that the October 15 negotiations will “lead to agreements that will strengthen the security of the region.”

The Russian Foreign Minister considers that an embargo is one of the most important components of security provision. “According to the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement (sic), this question [the embargo] is the most important issue for international discussion. I’m sure that as the EU monitoring mission in the regions bordering Abkhazia and South Ossetia has started we should discuss taking some concrete steps which will prevent the re-use of force in the region,” he said.

The Russian Government has several times accused Ukraine, a country named by Georgian President Saakashvili as “one of the most important allies of Georgia,” of providing military assistance to Georgia during the conflict; Ukrainian officials have denied this. Russian Foreign Ministry representative Andrey Denisov has warned Ukraine against participation in the re-arming of Georgia, saying that providing weapons to Georgia during the August conflict was supporting “the intervention of Georgia and ethnic cleansing” in South Ossetia. “The position of Kiev on the issue of rearming Mikheil Saakashvili’s regime will be considered during the building of relations between Kiev and Moscow, including the technical-military aspects,” said Denisov in an interview to Russian news agency Interfax.

Russia is also concerned about the possibility of NATO helping to re-arm the Georgian Army. Military assistance from the alliance bloc was not excluded during the visit of the NATO General Secretary and the Ambassadors of NATO member countries to Tbilisi in September 2008. “The alliance [NATO] is pulling its military infrastructure closer to the borders of our country. As it draws new dividing lines in Europe, now near our western and southern borders, it is quite natural that – whatever they may say – we believe that these actions are directed against us,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a press conference on October 8.

Georgian independent political analyst Gia Khukhashvili, talking to The Messenger, said that Lavrov’s appeal for an embargo is part of Russia’s policy to try and create an image of Georgia as an aggressor. “Russia wants to present Georgia as a dangerous country and tries to prevent it getting weapons. I think that Lavrov’s appeal for an embargo will not be supported by the international community, and that Lavrov knows that very well,” he says.