The USA must choose between the real partnership with Russia and “the virtual project of Georgia,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Wednesday.
“We realize and everyone writes about it that Georgia today is a special project of the USA. We understand that the USA worries about the fate of this project,” the minister added.
“But here we have either the notion of prestige about the virtual project or partnership, which requires collective actions to be taken,” the minister said.
Lavrov said that he was on the phone with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.
“The US administration claims that illegal armed groups pillage the people on the outskirts of Gori [a town in Georgia] and that the Russian military do not take any measures. If something like that is confirmed – on the outskirts of Gori, Tskhinvali or anywhere else – we will react in the most serious way,” the minister said.
“The Russian Armed Forces and the Russian peacemakers have the order from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, i.e. the president of Russia, to observe all martial laws. Civilians must be protected against infringements of human life and dignity. We will look into every message saying that it is taking place and we will not let this happen,” Lavrov said.
As for the USA’s approach to the situation in the conflict zone, the Russian minister commented George W. Bush’s statement about South Ossetia:
“The qualification of the speechwriters, who prepared the statement, surprised me again,” Lavrov stated.
Russia instituted criminal proceedings upon the murder of citizens of South Ossetia in accordance with Article 357 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation – genocide, Interfax reports.
About 100 Russian investigators continue to work in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, which was virtually leveled as a result of the Georgian aggression. The officers investigate the murder of Russian citizens and Russian peacemakers.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered to collect the evidence to prove that the Georgian authorities had committed actions of genocide against the citizens of South Ossetia.
In the meantime, Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, stated that it was Georgia that triggered the armed conflict in South Ossetia. The official urged everyone not to perceive the situation in black and white colors.
The official stated that he rejected the black and white approach to the situation, when one is defined as a bad guy and the other one as a good guy. The Slovak premiere believes that the sides should cease fire, sit down for talks and solve the problems, ITAR-TASS reports.
The vice-speaker of the parliament of Slovakia, Anna Belousovova stated that Georgia had attempted to commit genocide. She believes that many European media outlets provided the biased coverage of the military actions in Georgia. “The media outlets waged an informational war against Russia,” the Slovak official said.
The foreign media simply ignored what South Ossetians think of all those events, in spite of the fact that they were the people, who suffered from the war most. Belousovova reminded that it was the Georgian military that launched the aggression against Tskhinvali and South Ossetia.
“This was an attempt of genocide on Georgia’s part, and the International Tribunal must look into this issue,” the official stressed out.
Dmitri Simes of the Nixon Center supported Russia’s actions in South Ossetia. The expert believes that the USA made groundless accusations against Russia of its “disproportionate response” to Georgia’s actions.
The expert reminded of the situation in 2006, when Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and murdered three others. Israel started bombing Lebanon immediately after the incident – over 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed in the attacks.
The expert continued with saying that several members of the UN Security Council attempted to condemn Israel for its “disproportionate response,” whereas the US administration firmly stood up to protect its ally and did not let the council pass an anti-Israeli statement.
Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Georgian president, said in an interview with Rheinischer Merkur that the current situation would not have occurred if the Georgian military had not invaded Tskhinvali.
“This is the main reason why the situation has aggravated so much. This conflict can be solved only through peaceful negotiations,” Shevardnadze said.
The ex-president of Georgia rode off on a side issue when asked if the conflict in South Ossetia had caused serious and long-term damage to relations between Russia and Georgia.
Shevardnadze believes that Georgia may eventually become a member of NATO.
“This process will most likely go faster now. The first priority, however, is to start serious talks with Russia. Even if Russia is against Georgia’s NATO membership, the Georgian government should pursue a long-term goal to convince Russia that it does not threaten its security,” the former Georgian president said.
Shevardnadze denied the supposition that the conflict between Russia and Georgia is connected with the struggle for the transit of oil and gas via the territory of Georgia.
“The question of oil reserves in the Caucasus and their shipments to the West was solved ten years ago,” he said.
The former Georgian president stated that he did not expect any other reaction from the US administration.
“One can not expect something else from the US administration. The USA has been providing financial, defense, political, economic and moral support to Georgia for almost ten years. What else can they do? The USA can not send their troops here, because they are busy with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They cannot afford another war,” he said.
“I exclude an opportunity for the US forces to leave the Caucasian region after Moscow’s display of power. Washington will strengthen its influence in the region, because Georgia takes an important geo-strategic position even though it is a small country,” Shevardnadze said.