Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia signs ceasefire, Rice says Russia must now pull out

So I wonder who authorises the U.S. to give orders to Russia? Rice even being in Tbilisi is a sign of Big Brother looking after its own and sending the black sister for a photo op and to show solidarity with David against the newly minted Evil Empire Goliath. Nevertheless the ceasefire is certainly a positive development and from the Russian reaction acceptable to the Russian side as well. These events will probably fade from the western press after a time but the tensions will remain. The U.S. still remains committed to Georgia joining NATO. This will cause conflict with some members of the European Union within NATO who are not willing to confront Russia even more, since much of Europe depends upon Russia for energy supplies especially natural gas. Russia is not about to forget that the missile defence system is going ahead in spite of continued objections from the Russian side. There is no doubt about that there is a new Cold War developing. In time I expect that there will be more conflict with China as well and perhaps a coming together of China and Russia once again in confronting U.S. hegemony. Already we have the tired old phrases about the Free World versus Russia (and China no doubt). I have seen blogs even talking about Russia in terms of a country run by atheistic communists! Wow!

Georgia signs ceasefire, Rice says Russia must now pull out
Breakaway regions "unlikely to live together with Georgia," Russian president says
Last Updated: Friday, August 15, 2008 12:26 PM ET
CBC News
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Friday he signed a ceasefire agreement with Russia that protects the former Soviet republic's interests despite concessions to Moscow.
He said he will "never, ever surrender" in a showdown with Russia, and he accused the West of inviting Russian aggression.
Saakashvili made his remarks in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice standing nearby. Rice said she had been assured that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign an identical document.
"With this signature by Georgia," Rice said, the Russian pullback "must take place and take place now."
Saakashvili's announcement comes just hours after Medvedev said the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are "unlikely to live together with Georgia" after recent conflicts there.
Medvedev spoke to reporters in Moscow earlier Friday, a week after heavy fighting between Russian and Georgian troops broke out over the Moscow-backed breakaway republic of South Ossetia.
Medvedev said that while Russia respects the principle of territorial integrity, after what happened, it's unlikely Ossetians and Abkhazians will ever be able to live together with Georgia in one state. Russian troops drove Georgian forces out of both regions last week.
Bush stands firmly behind Georgia
Meanwhile U.S. President George W. Bush repeated on Friday his demand that Russia get out of Georgia, saying the Cold War is over.
"Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century," he told reporters at the White House. He said Georgians have cast their lot with the free world and "we will not cast them aside."
The U.S. president said that Russia has damaged its relationship with the United States and other countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday some of Russia's actions against Georgia over South Ossetia had been "disproportionate." Her comments carry weight as Germany is Russia's largest trading partner.
"Some of Russia's actions were not proportionate," Reuters quoted Merkel as saying at a joint news conference with Medvedev. "Russian troops should withdraw from central areas in Georgia," she added.
Rice says difficult questions can be addressed later
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili shake hands in Tbilisi on Friday. (Irakli Gedenidze/Pool/Associated Press)Rice told reporters travelling with her to Tbilisi that the immediate goal is to get Russian combat forces out of Georgia and that more difficult questions can be addressed later.
But she said the U.S. would never ask Georgia to agree to something that isn't in its best interests.
The French-brokered agreement calls for both sides to pull back to positions they held before the fighting started last Friday, when Georgia sent troops to try to retake the separatist province of South Ossetia.
Russia responded to the action by pushing Georgian forces back and advancing far into undisputed Georgian territory. Rice said earlier that the deal would allow Russian peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia before the conflict began to stay in the region. The troops would also be temporarily allowed to patrol a few kilometres outside the area.
Russia said it is committed to pulling fighting forces out of Georgia, but the Associated Press reported on Friday that Russian troops were still blocking an entrance to the key central Georgian city of Gori.
Displaced Georgian civilians rest just outside the town of Gori on Friday. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)Russia has said more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians in South Ossetia, as well as 74 of its own soldiers, have been killed in the conflict. Georgia put the figure much lower, at around 175 dead. None of the figures has been independently verified.
While South Ossetia's independence is not recognized internationally, it has close ties to Russia, and almost all of its 70,000 residents have Russian passports.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says tens of thousands of people in Georgia, including its two breakaway provinces, need urgent help but that security concerns are keeping its staff out of the region.
It says residents of South Ossetia are living without basic services, such as water and electricity.With files from the Associated Press

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