Moscow Demands Halt Of Weapons Shipments To Georgia


Aug 6, 2009

MOSCOW/VIENNA (Europe News)-Western countries must stop weapons
shipments to Georgia, Russia warned on Thursday, on the eve of the
first anniversary of its conflict with Georgia.

In an interview broadcast on Russian media, Foreign Ministry spokesman
Andrei Nesterenko urged Western nations not to encourage Georgia to
pursue military ventures by providing it with military aid.

Such military support leads Georgia to think it can solve its problems
militarily, not diplomatically, warned Nesterenko.

Georgia and Russia will both mark the one-year anniversary of the
war this weekend, in which the two fought over the status of two
breakaway Georgian republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In remarks carried by Interfax news agency from Ankara, visiting
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stressed that Moscow had no
interest in use of arms in the Caucasus region.

Russia, said Putin, had no plans to attack Georgia-no matter what
the government in Tbilisi said-and he also urged an end to the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Conflicts only disrupt the development of our relations with the
other side," Interfax quoted him as saying.

Thousands of Georgian students meanwhile arrived by bus on Thursday
in the city of Gori to protest the "Russian occupiers."

Russian soldiers had last year temporarily occupied the town, the
birthplace of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, after Georgia invaded
South Ossetia.

In the aftermath of the war, both breakaway regions claimed
independence and enjoy Russian recognition and support. However,
very few other nations recognize their statehood.

In the lead-up to the anniversary, the two countries have traded
accusations that the other is preparing for new military aggression.

The situation has alarmed international bodies. The European Union,
which maintains a force of over 200 monitors in Georgia, on Monday
warned both sides to refrain from stoking tensions.

The current chairwoman of the Organization for Security and Co-
operation in Europe, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, said
that all sides should refrain from actions and statements that could
destabilize the situation further.

"Wounds are still raw, and the region remains fragile and volatile,"
she said in a statement released by the Vienna-based body that includes
Russia and the United States among its members.

The head of human-rights body the Council of Europe, Terry Davis,
echoed that call, warning that both sides are acting irresponsibly
and stoking tensions in the Caucasus exactly as they did before they
went to war a year ago.

"They are marking the first anniversary of their conflict with
rhetoric and tension. This is how the shooting started a year ago,"
Davis said in a statement.

"While some Georgian and Russian politicians still shout at each other
and argue about who started it, the rest of us should remember both the
dead and the living … the thousands of people who were forced from
their homes and have still not been allowed to return," Davis said.

As Moscow blocked the extension of military observer missions by the
United Nations and the OSCE, both organizations had to withdraw from
Georgia in late June.

The EU’s mission remains in the country.