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Russia and Georgia accuse each other while OSCE calls for restraint

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, August 7
One the eve of the Russian-Georgian war’s anniversary the Russian Foreign Ministry has issued another statement, accusing Georgia of making a “treacherous attack” on de facto South Ossetia and the Russian ‘peacekeepers’ deployed there. The statement posted on the Ministry’s website claims that the Georgian side had used “inhuman” weapons in the breakaway region and had committed “exceptionally cruel” crimes against the peaceful population there. It also says the Georgian campaign in Tskhinvali was “well planned” in advance.

The Russian Foreign Ministry states that Tbilisi has not abandoned its plans to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity by force. It is also demanding the signing of non-use of force agreements with the de facto republics. “Only through this can Tbilisi restore the minimal confidence it enjoyed in neighbouring states and the international community,” the Russian MFA statement reads.

More threats were heard from Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko yesterday. Speaking at a special press conference in Moscow, Nesterenko said Russia will give “large scale” support to “its brother nations” Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the social, economic, state security and border defence fields. Nesterenko noted that a year after the “Georgian aggression” the Caucasus nations are still facing many challenges. “The main challenge is revenge politics and the prospect of violent action from the Georgian side,” the Russian Foreign Ministry representative told journalists on Thursday.

The de facto leader of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, has requested that the international community recognise the independence of Georgia’s separatist region. According to their Press and Information Committee the separatist authorities have made this request of the UN, EU, OSCE and the leaders of different states. At the same time the de facto Tskhinvali regime, which has currently been recognised by only the Russian Federation and Nicaragua, has expressed its regret that the international community has not condemned the “actions of the Georgian Government.” “South Ossetia appeals to world nations and international organisations to recognise its sovereignty and independence and thus stop the possibility of a new genocide of Ossetian people by the Georgians,” the appeal reads.

Georgian officials claim that due to the approach of the anniversary of the Russian aggression Russia has “unleashed with enhanced vigour its information war against Georgia,” in the last few days. The Georgian Foreign Ministry says that a “disinformation campaign” is being waged by high ranking officials from the Russian Foreign and Defence Ministries, as well as the de facto leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“This propaganda, which oversteps all accepted boundaries and contains a mixture of distorted facts, demagoguery and blatant lies, aims to justify Russia's aggressive and totally unlawful actions in the eyes of the international community and discredit the Georgian side,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry says. It accuses Russia of being engaged in an “undeclared war” against Georgia, which it says has resulted in the “open aggression and the occupation of Georgian territories, a third wave of ethnic cleansing, militarisation and a total disregard of the international community’s requirements, the norms and principles of international law and undertaken commitments.” The MFA statement notes the “unanimous position” of the international community is a clear sign that no one in the 21st century is going to “tolerate the virtual reality created with the use of force, and the perpetrators of any such action will have to pay a relevant political price.”

Meanwhile, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Dora Bakoyannis, said on Thursday that she was concerned about the tensions in Georgia’s breakaway regions. Like her counterparts from the EU, Bakoyannis has also called on all sides to “refrain from taking actions and making statements that could destabilise the situation further.” The Greek Foreign Minister expressed her regret at the closing of the OSCE Mission to Georgia. “We remain focused on finding a solution that would enable the OSCE to have a strong presence in Georgia, and we hope that despite the difficulties so far, we will be able to find consensus on a format for such work. Such a presence is needed now more than ever. I have said it often, and I will say it again: we need more OSCE in the region, not less,” Bakoyannis stated.