Thursday, September 11, 2008

U.S. accuses Russia of "wiggling"

From: U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, September 10:

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on this latest apparent disagreement between Lavrov and the EU on the negotiating efforts over Georgia? Lavrov says that, you know, what was signed in Tbilisi and unveiled there wasn’t what the Russians had agreed to. It has to do with the EU monitors. And apparently, in Tbilisi, they said the EU monitors would move into the whole of Georgia, and Lavrov says that that’s not what they had agreed to in Moscow.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, these guys are trying to – at every turn, trying to wiggle out of a commitment they made and that their president put his name to. You know, we’ve seen it since August and it continues. They need to get out of Georgia and they need to stop finding excuses to do that. There – I guess the next deadline that they have committed themselves to is coming up on Monday, I believe, on the 15th, where they said – President Medvedev, once again, said that he is going to get his troops out of Georgia. I would note one quite concerning remark that has been attributed to the Russian Government and to various officials, whether that’s Prime – President Medvedev or Foreign Minister Lavrov, saying that they were going to keep 3,800 Russian troops both in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That, of course, would be a violation of the ceasefire that they signed in August. So Russia – Russia and their government and their troops need to abide by the – their international commitments, bottom line.

QUESTION: You’re saying that announcement that they would, you know, have more troops in the two breakaway regions is a violation –

MR. MCCORMACK: Absolutely.

QUESTION: – because it’s –

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, absolutely.

QUESTION: – not their pre-conflict position?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. What they agreed to is getting their troops back to pre-August 6 positions. And we’ll try to – I don’t know if we have down to the single soldier the number of Russian troops that were in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but it was right around, for each of those places, right around 1,000, maybe a little bit more. And the prescribed limits were, I think, right around 1,500, under the operative international agreements. So 3,800 in each of those areas separately, a total of 7,600, is a clear violation, not only of previous accords, but the ceasefire accord.

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