Pull out of Georgia, US tells Russia

September 11th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 11 (RIA Novosti) The United States has demanded Russia abide by the terms of South Ossetia ceasefire plan and pull its troops out of Georgia. “These guys (Russia leaders) are at every turn trying to wiggle out of a commitment they made and that their president put his name to,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “They need to get out of Georgia and they need to stop finding excuses (not) to do that.”

He also said Washington was “extremely concerned” by Russian statements that thousands of regular troops would be based in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“That, of course, would be a violation of the cease-fire that they signed in August,” McCormack said. “Russia and their government and troops need to abide by their commitments, bottom line.”

Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Wednesday about 3,800 services personnel would be based in each republic, a move Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said was legal since Russia recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

“With the signing and ratification of the treaty we initialled today, the troops will be there on an international legal basis,” Lavrov told journalists later Wednesday.

“These are not peacekeepers, this is a military contingent whose number is defined by the defence ministry in consultation with its partners in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Lavrov said.

McCormack also criticised Russia over problems of reaching humanitarian aid to some villages near the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

“We are also very concerned by Russian restrictions on the flow of humanitarian aid, which also contravenes the ceasefire agreement,” he said. “The Russian checkpoint at Karaleti continues to turn back shipments of humanitarian assistance that is trying to reach the villages south of Tskhinvali.”

“We strongly urge Russia to allow the free flow of humanitarian assistance to all areas of Georgia,” the spokesman said.

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