No talks before Georgia withdraw troops: Russia

August 10th, 2008 - 3:06 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Aug 10 (Xinhua) Russia will not negotiate with Georgia unless it withdraws troops from the frontlines in the Caucasian region of South Ossetia, a senior Russian official said Saturday. Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said there would be no negotiations unless Georgian troops return to their positions prior to the conflict in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

“They must retreat to the place where they were before. They must retreat to the place where they were three days ago,” Rogozin told reporters in Brussels.

Otherwise, there will be no contacts and consultations, he said.

“Before diplomats can sit and discuss on the issue, there must be preconditions, some military ones,” he said.

Rogozin accused Georgian authorities of “ethnic cleansing” in the breakaway region, where majority of the residents hold Russian passports.

Rogozin said Georgian forces killed at least 15 Russian peacekeepers in the region and wounded over 70. Some of the peacekeepers have been killed after being captured, he said.

“We are just shocked by the cruelty shown by Saakashvili’s (Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili) military,” he said.

Saakashvili must be held responsible for the massacres and he will be brought to justice at the end of the day, said the ambassador.

Russia has said that at least 1,500 people have been killed already in the two-day conflict and the toll could rise.

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