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Friday, August 22, 2008

U.S. envoy: Russia's first Georgia move legitimate.

This is from the Globe and Mail (Canada).
This is an interesting statement from the U.S. ambassador to Russia. Certainly the mainstream western press has on the whole said little about the Georgian role in starting the fracas. While Russia may rightly be accused of over-reacting Georgia's attempt to take back control of South Ossetia by force was the main initial cause of the Russian incursion. Perhaps it is because of the audience for his comments that the envoy spoke in this manner.

Russia's first Georgia move legitimate: U.S. envoy
Reuters
August 22, 2008 at 6:33 AM EDT
MOSCOW — The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, in a rare U.S. comment endorsing Russia's initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin's first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack.
U.S officials, including President George W. Bush, have strongly criticized Moscow's subsequent action but have not focused on the initial chain of events that triggered the conflict between Russian and U.S.-ally Georgia.
The war broke out after Georgia tried to retake its Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, prompting a counter-attack by Russian forces.
In his first major interview since his arrival as Ambassador last month, John Beyrle gave the Russian daily Kommersant his views on the conflict and warned about its impact on U.S. investor confidence in Russia.

“Now we see Russian forces, which responded to attacks on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, legitimately, we see those forces now having advanced on to the soil of Georgia; Georgian territorial integrity is in question here,” Mr. Beyrle told the newspaper.
He said Washington had not sanctioned Georgia's initial actions when on Aug. 8, after a succession of tense skirmishes, Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia, triggering a massive Russian reaction when its peacekeepers there came under fire.
“We did not want to see a recourse to violence and force and we made that very, very clear,” Mr. Beyrle was cited as saying in quotes the U.S. embassy confirmed as accurate.
“The fact that we were trying to convince the Georgian side not to take this step is clear evidence that we did not want all this to happen,” Mr. Beyrle said in the interview, which was published on Friday.
“We have seen the destruction of civilian infrastructure, as well as calls by some Russian politicians to change the democratically-elected government of Georgia. Some question the territorial integrity of Georgia. That is why we believe that Russia has gone too far,” the envoy said.
Mr. Beyrle said Washington still supports Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, which has still not been finalized after more than a decade of talks.
“But American investors are now looking at the situation around Russia with concern and asking questions,” he said.

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