'Diplomatic Efforts in the Caucuses'

[Hoje Macau, Macau]



Kommersant, Russia

The Kremlin Offers 'an Ultimatum' to America


"It's important to refrain from any steps that could directly or indirectly be regarded by the current Georgian leadership as encouraging their revanchist ambitions or that could lead to a repetition of this tragic scenario."


-- Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko


By Mikhail Zygar


Translated By Igor Medvedev


August 15, 2008


Russia - Kommersant - Original Article (Russian)

The international conflict over Georgia continued to escalate yesterday. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Tbilisi, where she said that through its actions Russia is only deepening its isolation. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in effect criticized the United States, saying that its approach to the crisis needs to be balanced. Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry announced that a peace plan worked out by French President Nicolas Sarkozy would soon be submitted to the U.N. Security Council. The trouble is that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has yet to sign it.




President George W. Bush’s announcement on Wednesday [Aug. 13] evening about a "humanitarian aid operation" to Georgia caught Russian authorities off guard. But a highly-placed source in the Kremlin told Kommersant that, "This is not yet a major crisis." So it was decided that President Medvedev would issue no official response to Bush, and that Moscow would respond only through Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On Wednesday he criticized Bush’s speech, saying that Georgia is an American project and issuing an ultimatum to Washington: a real partnership with Russia or its "virtual project" in Georgia.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Washington mush choose between Georgia and Russia.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Russia defies ceasefire agreement that it has signed, Aug. 15, 00:01:56 RealVideo

In an interview Wednesday with radio station Echo of Moscow, Lavrov clarified those thoughts further. The minister said that, "There are far more serious situations in the world over which we can't avoid partnership and where we really need to cooperate," apparently hinting at Iran. "How they are going to isolate us, I don’t know," he added, noting that threat of unpleasantness at the World Trade Organization doesn't worry Russia. "No one there is going to accept us, anyway," he observed. "Of this, I am more and more convinced. Time and again - and excuse the expression - they have played with our heads. They sign a bilateral protocol, everything seems fine, and then some new questions are raised."


Nevertheless, tensions continued to worsen yesterday. Each statement issued by Russian or American officials has been harsher than the last. Thus U.S. Secretary of States Rice, having held talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on her way to Tbilisi, said that reports from Georgia that Russia is violating the ceasefire agreement were "not encouraging," and that these incidents, "only serve to deepen the isolation into which Russia is moving." In Tbilisi, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza repeated Rice’s thoughts, saying that Russia would cause major damage to itself as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia, if it should recognize them.




Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Andrey Nesterenko, responded by saying that for the U.S., "it's important to refrain from any steps that could directly or indirectly be regarded by the current Georgian leadership as encouraging their revanchist ambitions or that could lead to a repetition of this tragic scenario." In turn, Russian Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, expressed concern over the nature of the goods being supplied by the U.S. to Georgia. "Let us ask the American side and it can invite you [the media] to see whether what they are providing is humanitarian cargo on those transport planes. Why shouldn't they lift the curtain on what they've actually delivered?," he asked.



After yesterday’s talks between Rice and Sarkozy, the French Foreign Ministry announced that a six point peace plan, developed by the French president and approved by President Dmitry Medvedev and [Georgian President] Mikhail Saakashvili would soon be submitted to the U.N. Security Council. Nevertheless, Kommersant has learned that the Georgian President has yet to sign the document. This may be due to the fact that the plan provides for the introduction of additional Russian peacekeepers and security measures before a decision is reached on an international mission to the conflict zone. By signing the plan now, Saakashvili would be giving tacit approval to the presence of Russian peacekeepers which he now describes as occupiers. The Georgian authorities prefer that the U.N. Security Council adopt a resolution as quickly as possible and that it establish an international peacekeeping mission in the usual way.


Yesterday evening, Rice had already arrived in Tbilisi. Following her talks with Mikhail Saakashvili is likely to be a unified American-Georgian position on the peace plan and possible Security Council resolutions.


Meanwhile, Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi today [Thursday]. The topic of discussion was scheduled beforehand to be a new concept of European security, proposed by President Medvedev. But given current events, all such ambitious Kremlin projects are being postponed indefinitely. The Russia President will have to discuss with Merkel ways out of the current crisis.  



Yesterday [Aug. 13], German Foreign Minister Steinmeier in effect criticized the U.S. position, saying that a balanced approach was needed to resolve the crisis. "We need to criticize what needs to be criticized, and we have always done so in the past, including in relation to Russia," he said. "But we should also pursue a policy that is sensible and realistic. If the E.U. really wants to play a stronger role in the region, if the E.U. wants to be a stabilizing force, then the lines of communication must be kept open to Tbilisi and Moscow."






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Kommersant, Russia

The Kremlin Offers 'an Ultimatum' to America















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 15, 7:45pm]