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Russia-NATO ties sour over Georgia

Posted by seumasach on August 19, 2008

““I fully agree with Mr. Scheffer that ‘business as usual’ between Russia and NATO is no longer possible,” said Mr. Lavrov, adding: “We will draw our conclusions.” Analysts said Russia could stop providing a transport corridor and planes to airlift NATO supplies to Afghanistan. Russian transport aircraft at present ferry about 30 per cent of such shipments. This threat stopped the NATO Foreign Ministers from supporting a U.S. demand for suspending all ties with Russia, including cooperation on counter-terrorism.”

Vladimir Radyuhin

The Hindu

20 th August, 2008

MOSCOW: Russia may complete its withdrawal from Georgia in three to four days if Georgia complies with the terms of the ceasefire agreement, said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. He rejected as “biased” a NATO statement on the conflict.

“The pullback of Russian forces will depend on how fast Georgian troops return to their barracks as per the peace plan and on progress in setting up new security zones for Russian peacekeepers,” said Mr. Lavrov, adding: “I think it may take 3-4 days.”

He described as “biased and one-sided” the statement adopted by NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels on Tuesday. “NATO has sought to make the aggressor look like a victim,” said Mr. Lavrov. “Instead of trying to restrain Mr. Saakashvili, NATO lets him dictate to the alliance what it should do to meet his ambitions,” he added.

Downturn

He also rejected NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s warning of “consequences” for Russia over the South Ossetia crisis. He suggested NATO would face consequences for supporting the aggressor.

“I fully agree with Mr. Scheffer that ‘business as usual’ between Russia and NATO is no longer possible,” said Mr. Lavrov, adding: “We will draw our conclusions.” Analysts said Russia could stop providing a transport corridor and planes to airlift NATO supplies to Afghanistan. Russian transport aircraft at present ferry about 30 per cent of such shipments. This threat stopped the NATO Foreign Ministers from supporting a U.S. demand for suspending all ties with Russia, including cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Russia and Georgia exchanged 20 prisoners of war (POWs) in a gesture of goodwill on Tuesday — five Russian POWs were swapped for 15 Georgian POWs. A Russian military spokesman said Georgia was not fulfilling its obligation to return its troops to their bases. “Everyday, we detain groups of armed Georgian soldiers roaming about [on Georgian territory] without orders,” said Deputy Chief of the General Staff, General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, on Tuesday.

“Yesterday we disarmed 20 Georgian troops, including three ethnic Arabs, who were driving in five Hummers armed with automatic rifles and grenade launchers,” he added. He said Russian peacekeepers would set up additional posts in the security zone between Georgia and South Ossetia before completing its troop pullback from Georgia and South Ossetia.

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