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Thread: Russia's Medvedev Halts Military Action In Georgia

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    Russia's Medvedev Halts Military Action In Georgia

    Russia's Medvedev halts military action in Georgia

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g..._6oVwD92GN0280

    By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV – 56 minutes ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt to military action in Georgia on Tuesday, after five days of air and land attacks that took Russian forces deep into its small U.S.-allied neighbor in the Caucasus.

    Medvedev said on national television that the military had punished Georgia enough for its attack on South Ossetia. Georgia launched an offensive late Thursday to regain control over the separatist Georgian province, which has close ties to Russia.

    "The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been restored," Medvedev said. "The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses. Its military has been disorganized."

    The Russian president, however, said he ordered the military to defend itself and quell any signs of Georgian resistance.

    "If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them," he told his defense minister at a televised Kremlin meeting.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, just arrived in Moscow carrying Western demands for a Russian pullback, welcomed the decision to halt the fighting but said Georgia's sovereignty, integrity and security must be protected. There was no immediate comment from the United States.

    As he started talks with Sarkozy, Medvedev said Georgia must pull its troops from the breakaway regions and pledge not to use force again to solve the conflict.

    Hours before Medvedev's announcement, Russian forces bombed the town of Gori and launched an offensive in the only part of Abkhazia still under Georgian control, tightening the assault on the beleaguered nation.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier Tuesday that Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili should leave office and that Georgian troops should stay out of South Ossetia permanently.

    Moscow will not talk to Saakashvili, Lavrov said; the best thing for Saakashvili to do "would be to step down." But he said Moscow has not made Saakashvili's departure a condition for ending hostilities.

    The U.N. and NATO had called meetings Tuesday to deal with the conflict, which blew up in South Ossetia and quickly developed into an East-West crisis that raised fears in former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe. Five European presidents were headed to Russia and Georgia to mediate.

    Russian troops who had advanced into Georgia on Monday from South Ossetia, took positions near Gori on the main east-west highway as terrified civilians fled the area, and Saakashvili said his country had effectively been cut in half.

    Russian jets targeted administrative buildings and a street market in the center of Gori on Tuesday, Georgia's security chief Alexander Lomaia said, but there was no immediate information about casualties.

    The Russians had also opened a second front in western Georgia on Monday, moving deep into Georgian territory from separatist Abkhazia. They seized a military base in the town of Senaki and occupied police precincts in the town of Zugdidi.

    Russia's deputy chief of General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russian troops weren't in Gori but confirmed they have taken control of an airport in Senaki. Senaki is 30 miles east of Abkhazia.

    Nogovitsyn said at a briefing that Medvedev's order means that the Russian troops would stay where they are. He said they will retaliate if come under Georgian attack.

    Lomaia said that Russian troops also attacked Georgian forces who continued to hold the northern part of Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge, Lomaia said,

    Abkhazian officials said their own forces were carrying out the artillery attacks and that Russian forces were not involved in that fighting. At least 9,000 Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles were in Abkhazia, according to a Russian military commander.

    An AP reporter who visited Zugdidi on Tuesday morning saw several Russian armored vehicles and dozens of troops outside the town's central police station. The mood in the city was calm, people were moving around and many stores that shut previously were open for business Tuesday.

    The Russian onslaught, accompanied by relentless Russian air raids on Georgian territory, angered the West, bringing the toughest words yet from U.S. President George W. Bush.

    Georgia, which sits on a strategic oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets bypassing Russia, has long been a source of contention between the West and a resurgent Russia, which is seeking to strengthen its role as the dominant energy supplier to the continent.

    Saakashvili endorsed an EU plan calling for an immediate cease-fire, in talks Monday with French and Finnish foreign ministers. Sarkozy was to negotiate the plan in Moscow, and the presidents of Poland and the former Soviet states of Ukraine, Lithuania and Estonia were headed to Georgia on Tuesday.

    Bush had demanded Monday that Russia end a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence in Georgia, agree to an immediate cease-fire and accept international mediation.

    "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century," Bush said in a televised statement from the White House.

    Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of hypocrisy in a tough statement that reflected both the measure of his anger at the West.

    Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people have been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees said hundreds had been killed.

    Both separatist provinces are backed by Russia. Russian officials had given signals that the fighting could pave the way for them to be absorbed into Russia.

    Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Georgia says bombing continues after Russian order

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080812/...georgia_russia

    By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI, Associated Press Writers
    8/12/2008

    TBILISI, Georgia - Russia ordered a halt to military action in Georgia on Tuesday, after five days of air and land attacks that sent Georgia's army into headlong retreat and left towns, military bases and homes in the U.S. ally smoldering. Georgia insisted that Russian forces were still bombing and shelling.

    Despite the pledge by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia launched an offensive Tuesday in the only part of Abkhazia still under Georgian control. An Associated Press reporter saw 135 Russian military vehicles driving through Georgia en route to Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge — and Georgian officials said their troops in the gorge were under Russian attack.

    Abkhazian officials claimed their forces — not the Russians — were carrying out artillery attacks in the Kodori Gorge. Fleeing Georgians said the entire population of the gorge, some 3,000 people, had abandoned their homes — some so quickly they didn't even grab food or water.

    "It feels like an annexed country," said Lasha Margiana, the local administrator in one of the villages in Kodori.

    And just hours before Medvedev's order, Georgian officials said Russian jets targeted government offices and an outdoor market in the key city of Gori, killing six.

    Russia has accused Georgia of killing more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, in the separatist province of South Ossetia. The claim couldn't be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the area over the weekend said hundreds had died.

    Many Georgians also have been killed in the fighting. The overall death toll was expected to rise because large areas of Georgia were still too dangerous for journalists to enter and see the true scope of the damage.

    Tens of thousands of terrified residents have fled the fighting — South Ossetians north to Russia, and Georgians west toward the capital of Tbilisi and the country's Black Sea coast.

    Gori's post office and university were burning Tuesday, but the city was all but deserted after most remaining residents and Georgian soldiers fled Monday ahead of a feared Russian onslaught.

    Russian deputy chief of General Staff Anatoly Nogovitsyn insisted Tuesday that Russian forces did not bomb Gori and said Russian troops weren't in the city. Still, he confirmed that his forces had taken control of a Georgian airport in Senaki, 30 miles east of Abkhazia.

    In Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's provincial capital, the body of a Georgian soldier lay in the street along with debris. A poster hanging nearby showed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the slogan "Say yes to peace and stability" as South Ossetian separatist fighters launched rockets at a Georgian plane soaring overhead. Broken glass and other debris littered the ground.

    In Moscow, Medvedev said on national television that Georgia had been punished enough for its attack on South Ossetia. Georgia launched an offensive late Thursday to regain control over the separatist province, which has close ties to Russia.

    "The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses. Its military has been disorganized," Medvedev said.

    "If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them," he ordered his defense minister at a televised Kremlin meeting.

    Russia's foreign minister called for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to resign and Medvedev said Georgia must pull its troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia — the two breakaway provinces at the heart of the dispute.

    But thousands of Georgians poured out their support for their president at a rally in Tbilisi, crowding a main square and nearby streets as far as the eye could see and holding aloft fluttering red-and-white Georgian flags.

    Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s.

    Both separatist provinces are backed by Russia, which appears open to absorbing them.

    Medvedev said Tuesday that Russian peacekeepers will stay in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Saakashvili said his government will officially designate Russian peacekeepers in those breakaway provinces as occupying forces.

    The Russian onslaught angered the West and drew tough words from President Bush, but some Georgians are disappointed that the U.S. did not intervene to protect its tiny ally.

    "I'd like to think the words really do matter," U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said Tuesday in Tbilisi.

    Bryza declined to say if the U.S. would provide military support in the event that Russia expands its operations saying only: "I hope we'll never come to the question of what we do if Russia refuses to observe international law."

    On Monday, Russian forces opened a second battlefront in western Georgia, moving deep into Georgian territory from Abkhazia. They seized a military base in Senaki and occupied police precincts in the western town of Zugdidi. Russian troops also advanced Monday into central Georgia from South Ossetia, taking positions near Gori on the main east-west highway as terrified civilians fled.

    Saakashvili said the twin moves sliced his country in half.

    Nogovitsyn dismissed Georgian reports that warplanes again bombed an oil pipeline and accused Georgia of spreading false reports to rally anti-Russian sentiments in the West.

    Still, the British oil company BP shut down one of three Georgian pipelines as a precaution, although the company said it had no evidence the pipelines had suffered damage.

    Georgia sits on a strategic oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets bypassing Russia, has long been a source of contention between the West and a resurgent Russia, the dominant energy supplier to Europe.

    The situation in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, remained tense as sporadic fighting and artillery duels continued, but the city was in the control of Russian army and South Ossetian forces.

    In villages around Tskhinvali once populated by ethnic Georgians, South Ossetian fighters reportedly were setting fire to Georgian houses and searching for hidden Georgian fighters.

    An AP photographer in the village of Ruisi near South Ossetia saw fresh damage from a Russian air raid that locals said came just 30 minutes before Medvedev's televised statement.

    Residents said three villagers were killed and another five wounded when a Russian warplane raided the village. One slain victim, 77-year old Amiran Vardzelashvili, was struck by a fragment in the heart while was working in a field.

    The Georgian government said another nearby village, Sakorinto, also was bombed after Medvedev announcing a halt to fighting, and as was an ambulance near the village of Agara in the Black Sea province of Adzharia.

    The U.N. and NATO called meetings Tuesday to deal with the conflict, while Poland's president and the leaders of four former Soviet republics flew to Georgia for a meeting of solidarity with Saakashvili.

    "The Russian state has once again shown its face, its true face," said Poland's Lech Kaczynski, who was being joined by counterparts from Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Latvia.

    But he said it was "good news" that Medvedev ordered a halt to military action.

    At the White House on Monday, Bush had demanded that Russia end a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence in Georgia, agree to an immediate cease-fire and accept international mediation.

    "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century," Bush said in a televised statement.

    Medvedev said that people in both breakaway provinces must be allowed to decide whether they want to remain part of Russia.

    "Ossetians and Abkhaz must respond to that question taking their history into account, including what happened in the past few days," Medvedev said grimly.

    Medvedev denounced Georgian attack on South Ossetia launched late Thursday as "genocide."

    He harshly assailed the West for supporting Georgia in the conflict, saying it reflected hypocrisy: "International law doesn't envision double standards."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    $1000 to the first person that can phoenetically pronounce this name.

    MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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