Demands grow for action against Russia (Lead)

August 29th, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 29 (DPA) Demands for diplomatic action against Russia over its actions in Georgia have grown, while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the US of plotting the recent conflict in Georgia.”It’s not only that the US administration could not restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal act. The American side effectively armed and trained the Georgian army,” Putin said.

Speaking in an interview with CNN which was also shown on Russian state television, Putin claimed the fighting was triggered by politicians in Washington in the runup to the presidential election.

The former president gave no evidence to support his statements, which he admitted were “conjecture,” but said the US action forced Russia’s hand.

“The suspicion arises that someone in the United States has specially created this conflict with the aim of to aggravating the situation and to benefit one of the candidates in the struggle for the post of president of the United States,” he said at his Black Sea residence in Sochi.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, speaking three days before an emergency European Union summit in Brussels, meanwhile said that “sanctions are being considered, as well as other means” against Russia.

But Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed such action, saying Kouchner “says a lot of things.”

Demands for diplomatic action have grown louder since Moscow formally recognised the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia Tuesday. The provinces fuelled a brief but bloody Russian-Georgia conflict earlier this month.

Kouchner said the aim of next Monday’s extraordinary summit, the first such crisis meeting since the 2003 Iraq war, would be to “draw up a strong statement reflecting our determination not to accept” the situation in Georgia.

In other developments Georgia’s foreign minister called on the UN Security Council Thursday to take action against Russia, alleging it had breached international security by its actions in her country.

At a special meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili said the Security Council should be act under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which deals with non-military and military sanctions to restore peace and security.

“It is not only a threat to international security, but a breach of it,” Tkeshelashvili said, referring to Russia’s military involvement in Georgia and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The minister also alleged that Russian forces had conducted ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia.

“The territory previously known in Soviet times as South Ossetia is completely cleansed of remnants of the Georgian population,” she said. In the buffer zone around the breakaway province, ethnic cleansing was ongoing, she added.

The Permanent Council of the OSCE, the organisation’s decision-making body, was meeting to discuss recent developments in Georgia and the modalities of sending up to 100 additional observers there.

Moscow’s recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was “an additional factor that needs to be taken into account” in finding agreement on the modalities of the observer mission, OSCE spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski was slated late Thursday to meet with heads of three Baltic states to work out a common stance on Georgia for the upcoming EU summit, his chancellery told Radio ZET.

“There’s an expectation from the Baltic states that the president in Brussels will present a common stance of the three states - the three Baltic states and Poland,” said Piotr Kownacki, vice-chief of the president’s chancellery.

Kaczynski, one of Georgia’s strongest supporters in the conflict with Russia, was to meet with his counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will attend Monday’s Brussels summit along with Kaczynski. The two politicians are also slated to meet Friday to work out a common strategy on the Georgia issue.

Meanwhile the NATO military alliance said its deployment of four warships in the Black Sea was planned more than a year ago and had nothing to do with the developments in nearby Georgia.

The statement from Brussels followed expressions of concern by Russian officials at what they call a “buildup” of NATO ships in the area.

“This deployment is routine in nature and has been planned for over a year, notification of the requirement to transit the Turkish Straits was given in June, well before the current Georgia crisis and is completely unrelated,” NATO said.

A NATO spokeswoman stressed that “there is no NATO naval build-up” and that the fleet’s exercises with Bulgarian and Romanian ships would be limited to “the Western part of the Black Sea.”

The alliance also sought reassure Russia that its fleet would only be stationed in the Black Sea for a maximum of 21 days.

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