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Russian Military Action in Abkhazia Possible - Russian Diplomat
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Apr.'08 / 21:30

If Georgia will start the military conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia will have to react through military means, Russian Foreign Ministry's special envoy for relations with CIS countries Valery Kenyakin said on April 25. Officials in Tbilisi have already condemned remarks as “a direct military intimidation.”

“Russia is doing everything so that the military scenario is not enacted in a zone of Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, but if it would be unleashed, we will have to react including through military means,” Kenyakin was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying at a press conference in the news agency’s office in Moscow.

“If helpless people will be suffering, we will have to protect them,” he added.

“Russia is for changing the territorial integrity of Georgia from a theoretical possibility into practical reality, this requires negotiations,” the diplomat noted, “currently, Georgia’s territorial integrity is a theoretical hypothesis.”

“We are pushing the sides to negotiating process in the frames of existing [negotiating] formats, if somebody wants to rely on NATO’s force, we have something to respond with.”

Kenyakin also said, he “had no confidence that US is working positively in terms of settlement of conflict situations” in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

He did not rule out that “Georgia might start a military operation against Abkhazia in the nearest future.”

Kenyakin also claimed “there has been no Russian fighter jet in Abkhazian skies on 20 April” and slammed the possible discussion of the matter at OSCE security forum.

“Who would be discussing anything there [at OSCE]? We will again see the video clip which was distributed [by Georgia] to the UN Security Council members and will hear the political positions? Conclusions in this incident have to rely on expert’s opinions, not on dilettantes who can only air the political orders,” Kenyakin stated.

The Russian diplomat’s remarks triggered a prompt reaction from Tbilisi.

“This is a direct military intimidation against Georgia,” MP Givi Targamadze, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for defense and security, said.

“This is yet another sign indicating on Russia’s aggressiveness. Georgia is ready to protect itself from any type of aggression, including the one coming from Russia.”

He also stressed that diplomatic efforts, including mobilization of international support was Tbilisi’s major tool to resist “Russia’s intimidations” and then he again repeated: “Georgia is capable to protect itself from Russia’s aggression.”

Davit Bakradze, who resigned from the foreign minister’s position on April 23 to run for the parliament, was in Berlin on Friday, where he held talks with the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Speaking at a joint news conference with Bakradze, Steinmeier condemned Russia’s decision to establish official links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Later on Friday the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Minister Sergey Lavrov held phone conversation with the German counterpart and discussed bilateral ties, as well as some of the international matters. No reference on Georgia was made in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press statement.

Earlier on April 25 Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that there was no crisis in Russo-Georgian relations.

"I don't see a crisis in Russia-Georgia relations. We are witnessing a crisis in relations between the leadership of Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The fact that Georgia's leadership is not able to establish a respectful dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia but instead declared that it will join NATO to solve all its problems is seriously aggravating the situation," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with Finland's Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb in Moscow.

"I hope that those people who are trying to artificially push Georgia into NATO understand it very well. I hope that these people know about Tbilisi’s categorical refusal to sign treaty on non-use of force [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia] proposed by the UN and OSCE. I would like to hear reaction of these people on the statements of the Georgian leadership that Georgian unmanned aircraft have been flying; are flying and will fly over the conflict zone in Abkhazia [reference to President Saakashvili’s statement], although this is banned by the UN Security Council.”

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