Vladmir Putin attacks the West's 'cynical support' for Georgia
A defiant Vladimir Putin hit out at America and the West today for its “cynical support” of Georgia, saying that Russia would continue its military operation until “its logical end”.
The Russian Prime Minister blasted the West for continuing to support President Saakashvili despite Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, which he said “wiped from the face of the earth ten Osettian villages”.
“The scale of cynicism is surprising and the skill to present white as black and black. The trick to present the aggressor as the victim of an aggression and to place the responsibly for the effects on the victims,” Mr Putin said.
He criticised the United States for transporting 800 Georgian soldiers from Iraq, some of whom have been deployed in Gori on the border of South Ossetia.
“It is lamentable that some of our partners are not helping us but are trying to stand in the way. I mean among other things the transfer of the Georgian military contingent from Iraq actually to the conflict zone by the military transport planes of the United States,” he said at Cabinet meeting today to discuss the military operation.
Russia warned the West that “the Georgian side was preparing aggression,” said Mr Putin. “Nobody was listening. And this is the result. We have finally come to it. However, Russia will of course carry out its peacekeeping mission to its logical end.”
Earlier Moscow denied that its army would intensify its assault on Georgia and move farther into the country. But this afternoon the Russian military confirmed that it had starting fighting in the west Georgian city of Senaki to prevent Georgian troops from regrouping there.
European diplomats, including Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, were set to head to Moscow with a ceasefire deal after meeting Mr Saakashvili in Tbilisi on Monday.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary-General of Nato, said that he was “seriously concerned” about Russia’s response and its “lack of respect for the territorial integrity of Georgia,” a spokesperson said.
The statement followed President Bush’s comments in Beijing, where he was watching the Olympics. He said that he had spoken “firmly” to Mr Putin, who was directing the Kremlin’s actions in Georgia.
“I was very firm with Vladimir Putin,” Mr Bush told NBC Sports. “I expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia. We strongly condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia.”
The Russian foreign ministry said: “Georgia must fulfil two fundamental conditions — withdraw all of its armed units to the border of the safety zone stipulated by the 1992 agreement and sign an agreement on the non-use of force with South Ossetia.”
The ministry said that 1,600 Ossetians died in Georgia’s attack, lower than the figure of 2,000 previously given. The Georgian Government has accused Russia today of committing war crimes similar to the Balkan conflict. Both claims were impossible to independently verify.