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Medvedev: Moscow prepared for the war

By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, December 26
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia was prepared for the outbreak of the August war in Georgia and expected it to start at any time.

“Of course we thought our neighbour’s brains were not really ok, but we didn’t expect them to be in such a bad condition,” stated Medvedev on December 24, speaking to the major Russian TV stations. “Their [Georgian] side was in the process of preparing [for the war] and at some point I felt that our Georgian counterpart [President Saakashvili] had just abandoned talks with the Russian Federation. I had the suspicion that he had decided to conduct military action. So, of course, we were prepared for that,” he continued. “And I think that as a result of the preparatory measures carried out [by Russia], our losses during the operation were minimal. The Russian Army destroyed the Georgian military infrastructure. At the same time [the Russian Army] avoided taking actions which could have been inhumane.”

Talking about the start of the war, Medvedev said that his memory of that day “will be with me for the rest of my days.” “Perhaps, these were the most difficult days of my life. I can even recollect the timeline of the events taking place at that time,” Medvedev said. “At about one o’clock in the morning, Defence Minister Serdyukov phoned me and told me that according to their information, Georgia had declared war on South Ossetia. But there were no specific movements yet. I told him to watch developments closely and regularly update me. He called me every half an hour, informing me at what time tanks appeared, when other equipment which Georgians were moving came into view. For a long time, we still hoped that this was some kind of provocation, which would not be followed through.”

The Russian President stated that he “didn’t hesitate even for a second” to start the military operation when he was informed of the death of “Russian citizens including peacekeepers.” Medvedev stated that Russia had “undertaken all the necessary measures.” He spoke of the success of Russian troops during the August events – “Overall, I think that the military campaign, which lasted for five days, demonstrated the effectiveness of our response measures, the strength of Russian weapons and the spirit of our citizens and fighters. They, with only minimal losses, managed to inflict total and in fact unrecoverable damage to the Georgian military machine. Peace was restored in the Caucasus as a result of these measures and, most importantly, tens of thousands of people who were on the verge of extinction were taken under our protection. The further development of events demonstrated that our decision was right. We will protect the interests of our citizens no matter where they are, and there is no violation of international law in this,” said Medvedev, summing up.

Medvedev’s interview drew quite a harsh reaction from Tbilisi. “Medvedev has answered all the questions,” stated Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on December 25. Saakashvili announced that the Russian President had finally confessed that Russia had been preparing for war with Georgia. “This fact [Medvedev’s statement] is a response to the economical, political and social crisis happening now in Russia.”

“The confession of the Russian President will be vital for the work of the international [investigation] commission, as it shows the world who the aggressor is,” said Grigol Vashadze, Georgian Foreign Minister, at the press conference in Tbilisi on Thursday. “This is a significant fact,” he continued. “So much evidence has emerged since the August war that Russia has in fact decided not to wait for the work of the international commission and has already started changing its position on the conflict. Russia is a country which pays no attention to international principles and laws,” stated Vashadze, adding that at the time in which Russia accuses Georgia of launching military aggression “the whole Government of Georgia was on vacation.” He didn’t rule out the possibility of Russia continuing to cause provocations, however “Georgia as well as the international community is ready to prevent such a development.”

According to Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s Interior Minister, the Russian President gave “a Christmas present” to Georgia when he admitted that Russia was preparing for war. “Of course Russia was preparing, and then carried out, aggression against Georgia,” Merabishvili told journalists on December 25. “It is difficult to hide this. After foreign journalists, some with our assistance, have disclosed the disinformation disseminated by some so-called foreign experts and foreign observers, and after the entire world has seen that Russia was getting ready [to mount aggression against Georgia], Russia has simply had to admit it. This is yet another proof that Georgia was the victim of pre-planned aggression,” he added.