Georgian leader slams Russia for lifting sanctions on Abkhazia


March, 2008

Georgia's president has called Russia's decision to lift sanctions from Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia illegal. "This is an immoral and illegal decision. A most serious provocation aimed at destabilizing the situation in the Caucasus that will lead to an unpredictable development of events," Mikheil Saakashvili said. Russia lifted trade, economic, financial and transport sanctions against Abkhazia Thursday, and urged other CIS countries to follow suit. The CIS is an alliance of former Soviet republics. "We declare zero tolerance regarding Abkhazia's militarization. All responsibility for these actions will lie with the Russian leadership," Saakashvili said, adding that the sanctions first of all included a ban on bringing armaments, troops and foreign military instructors into the unrecognized republic.

The parliament of Abkhazia appealed Friday to the United Nations and Russia to recognize its independence, citing Kosovo as a precedent. "The unrecognized republic has established itself as an independent, democratic state," the statement said, adding that the recognition of Kosovo by the U.S. and the majority of European countries in mid-February had irrevocably altered the geopolitical situation. Abkhazia and another self-proclaimed republic, South Ossetia, with populations of about 200,000 and 100,000 respectively, were involved in bloody conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the split-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze told Georgian media in Belgium that Tbilisi's official position on the issue will be announced at a special press conference to be held by Georgia's representative to the UN. Georgia, which has sought to regain control over the separatist republics, called Russia's decision to lift economic sanctions against Abkhazia "a blunt attempt to violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity." It also threatened retaliatory measures to protect its interests. On Friday, it summoned the Russian ambassador to Georgia to register a protest over Moscow's actions.

Moscow has repeatedly said the recognition of Kosovo will set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including in the former Soviet Union. Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is to discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia on March 13. Justifying its decision on Thursday, Russia cited "a change of circumstances" and blamed Georgia for a "non-constructive" policy toward Abkhazia. Moscow said preserving the sanctions no longer made sense and "is harmful for the region's socio-economic development." Analysts said the Kremlin's decision to restore trade ties with Abkhazia was partially prompted by plans to use the neighboring Black Sea region's resources to build an Olympic infrastructure in the resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games. Russia will also not now have to justify the acquisition of land and property in Abkhazia.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20080307/100951292.html

Russia: Duma To Weigh In On Abkhaz, South Ossetian, Transdniestrian Status



Russian MPs may recognise breakaway regions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzherA743NU

The leaders of the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in Georgia, and Transdniester, in Moldova, have appealed to Russia to recognize their breakaway regions' independence. Russia's State Duma is debating whether to consider the joint bid, which comes in the wake of Kosovo's independence declaration from Serbia -- a move that many in the West encouraged but Moscow staunchly opposed. Duma deputies planned to hear appeals by parliamentary deputies from all three separatist, former Soviet provinces as part of their bid to gain independence. Russia's lower house of parliament is expected to adopt a resolution on the Abkhaz, South Ossetian, and Transdnistrian regions' status. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in conflicts in the early 1990s, and Transdniester have each urged the international community to recognize their sovereignty. Their call came on the heels of the Kosovar declaration on February 19, which has since been recognized by dozens of other countries. The self-declared presidents of the three regions -- Abkhazia's Sergei Bagapsh, South Ossetia's Eduard Kokoity, and Transdniester's Igor Smirnov -- met in Moscow on March 12 to discuss their joint independence bid. Officials from Russia's Foreign, Defense, and Economic Development and Trade ministries were expected to attend the Duma debate.

Buoying Hopes

Despite strongly backing the three regions, Moscow has yet to recognize their self-declared governments. A number of Russian politicians, like State Duma deputy speaker Sergei Baburin, nonetheless openly support the provinces' independence drive. "Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester have been recognized," Baburin said. "As a lawyer, I can tell you that there are international documents signed by the presidents of these republics, by the presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, by OSCE representatives, as signatories enjoying equal rights. And this means recognition." A formal acknowledgement of independence would be sure to raise fury in Moldova and Georgia, whose ties with Moscow have soured in recent years. Dozens of Georgians were gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi to protest the debate as the Duma convened. Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze has urged Russia not to launch the process of recognition, let alone recognize, the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the Duma session. "We count on the good sense of Russian deputies to prevail," he said. Russia has warned the West that the recognition of Kosovo's independence will embolden separatist movements around the world, including on former Soviet territory. Russia's new ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, also said this week that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will secede if NATO takes steps toward granting Georgia NATO membership. But political analysts say Moscow has stopped short of recognizing Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester for fear this will boost the Chechen separatist movement on its own territory. Mikhail Aleksandrov, a Caucasus expert at Russia's CIS Institute, said it was too early for Moscow to grant formal recognition to Georgia and Moldova's breakaway regions. "Personally, I don't think that things now will go as far as a formal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Aleksandrov said. "It would be illogical for us, after opposing the Kosovo precedent, to immediately recognize Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniester. It would go against logic and undermine our whole diplomatic position on the international scene." Moscow's stance appears to be contributing to impatience in the breakaway provinces. In comments published by the Russian daily "Kommersant" on March 13, Transdniester's Smirnov lambasted Russia for lacking the "courage" to help the three regions achieve independence.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle...0808eebe3.html

In other news:

Joint command war games to be held in Russia and Armenia


Around 4,000 troops from Armenia, Russia and Tajikstan will take part in command exercises as part of Rubezh-2008 this Summer/Fall, a military spokesman said on Tuesday. The exercises are being held as part of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) war games, Major General Vitaly Kormiltsev said, adding that troops, aircraft, air defense and other military hardware will be involved in the four-step exercises in Russia and Armenia. He said the number of personnel was not that important since "they will really participate as indication forces." "Rubezh-2008 is not a military exercise, but command war games," Kormiltsev said. The Collective Security Treaty Organization includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080311/101096419.html

Russia must use nuclear deterrent to protect allies - analyst

Russia must reserve the right to use nuclear weapons to protect Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) members in case of an imminent threat, a Russian political analyst said on Wednesday. The CSTO is a post-Soviet security group comprising Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. "It is necessary to extend part of Russia's nuclear doctrine, which covers the use of tactical nuclear weapons, to all members of the CSTO treaty as a deterrence guarantee," said Leonid Ivashov, the head of the Moscow-based Academy of Geopolitical Sciences. He said the existing treaty was too vague about the assistance, including military, which each CSTO country must provide to an ally in case of a clear and imminent threat of military aggression. "Article 4 of the treaty must be revised and contain a concrete definition of such assistance, clearly described in military-strategic terms," Ivashov said during a round-table meeting in Moscow. The Treaty on Collective Security was signed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 15 May 1992. The CSTO was established on 18 September 2003 in accordance with a decision of the heads of member states on transforming the treaty into an international regional organization. Article 4 of the current treaty stipulates that: "If an act of aggression is committed against any of the member states, all other member states will render it necessary assistance, including military, and provide support with the means at their disposal by exercising the right to collective defense in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter". The Russian leadership has already reaffirmed its commitment to building and maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent, while strongly criticizing the proposed deployment of the U.S. missile shield in Central Europe, and further eastward expansion of NATO.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080312/101160375.html

Russia wants South Caucasus to be a stability zone: Karasin

Russia wants to see South Caucasus a zone of stability, and relations with the regions' states – to be friendly, transparent, and unambiguous. Russian deputy foreign minister, secretary of state Grigory Karasin has articulated this while speaking to journalists in Yerevan on March 20. REGNUM quotes him to say that, to implement the stated principles, political will and mutual trust are required..Russia is ready for such work, and its contacts with authorities of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are exactly supposed to meet that end. Karasin has informed that at his meetings with Armenian leadership, a wide range of issues was discussed, including the situation after the recent presidential election in the country. In his words, riots and chaos in the streets are perilous for any country, and Armenia has already realized, how dangerous is the way that is not going to solve anything but, at the same time, can lead to instability and distrust. The acting president and president-elect of Armenia realize that the future of the country is in the dialog with constructive opposition, the Russian diplomat noted. “I hope that the trend will bring the society back to the legal field and the to field of dialog, which we are ready to facilitate,” he stressed. He said that new Armenian state- building has come through a tough trial and will be able to take the course of reforms and dialog. Karasin also has noted that next week, Armenia's president-elect Serzh Sargsyan is expected to visit Russia. Explaining, why, during his visit to Yerevan, he did not meet with opposition activists, particularly, first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Karasin stressed: “Information presented by president, prime minister, and foreign minister was quite sufficient.” He noted at the same time that, naturally, Russia is informed of what they think in the opposition camp, for Russia has friends in all spheres of political and public life in Armenia. “You need not doubt that we have information of diverse caliber,” he said.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/973933.html

Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia warns war could break out in region

Lawmakers in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia signed a statement on Thursday accusing Tblisi of military aggression, and warning that war could break out in the Caucasus. In the statement, they called for urgent action from Russia, the United Nations, the OSCE and PACE to "influence the Georgian leadership so that it renounces military force or terrorist activity as means of solving political issues." The unrecognized republic's parliament accused Georgian authorities of escalating tensions on the border with Abkhazia, which "could have the most severe consequences for both Abkhazia and Georgia, and endanger peace and stability in the entire Caucasus." Abkhazia's leadership earlier said its Air Force brought down an Israeli-made Georgian unmanned combat reconnaissance plane in its airspace on March 18, and accused Georgia of repeatedly violating its airspace. Tbilisi has denied the reports. The lawmakers' statement said: "According to international law, violation of the airspace of any state by military planes can be considered an act of military aggression." Abkhazia has stepped up its drive for independence from Georgia since Kosovo's declaration of independence more than a month ago, which has been recognized by several world powers. Soon after Kosovo's declaration, Abkhazia and the other Georgian breakaway territory, South Ossetia, asked Russia's parliament, the United Nations and other organizations to recognize their independence. Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were involved in bloody conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the split-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, proposed earlier on Thursday that the government consider increasing the number of Russian peacekeepers deployed in Georgia's conflict areas. Peacekeeping in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone is carried out by collective post-Soviet CIS forces mainly staffed with Russian service personnel.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20080320/101836370.html

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