Russia calls for arms embargo on Georgia

September 1st, 2008 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 1 (RIA Novosti) Russia Monday called for an arms embargo on Georgia till President Mikheil Saakashvili is replaced.”It would be appropriate to impose an embargo on arms supplies on that regime (of Mikheil Saakashvili) until different leaders have turned Georgia into a normal country,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“To guarantee the region is protected against new outbreaks of violence, Russia will continue to take measures to make sure that the regime is unable to commit evil deeds ever again,” he remarked.

Lavrov’s remarks came as the European Union (EU) leaders were due to gather later Monday for an emergency summit to focus on the Georgia crisis and review relations with Moscow.

Moscow said hundreds of civilians and peacekeepers were killed in the attack by Tbilisi against its separatist region South Ossetia Aug 8, and thousands were forced to flee their homes.

The Georgian incursions prompted Russian military to enter South Ossetia to expel Georgian troops and then move further into Georgian territory. Moscow halted its military action Aug 12.

Lavrov said Moscow hopes the EU will make the right choice at its summit.

“The European Union summit today will clarify a lot. We hope the choice will be made based on Europe’s fundamental interests,” Lavrov said.

A number of EU states, including Britain and Poland, have called for sanctions against Moscow and the postponement of talks on a new partnership pact with it over what they called its disproportionate response to the Georgian attack.

Russia later recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Georgian separatist region where many hold Russian passports, as independent states. The move was condemned internationally as “irresponsible”.

Lavrov said Russia would not yield to pressure. “Russia has returned to the world scene as a responsible state which is capable of defending its citizens,” he said.

The Russian minister said Moscow would maintain dialogue with the US as long as there is even the slightest chance of reaching an understanding of each other’s positions.

However, the minister laid part of the blame for the recent fighting on the US, whose military and other support for President Saakashvili, he said, only encouraged the “irresponsible and unpredictable regime’s” reckless moves.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier accused the White House of provoking the conflict in Georgia in order to give an advantage to “one of the US presidential candidates”. Washington has denied the allegation.

Ties between Moscow and Washington, already tense over US plans for a missile shield in Europe and a host of other issues, strained further over the Georgia crisis.

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