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August War in British MPs’ Report on Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Jul.'09 / 19:29

Responsibility for the August war “was shared, in different measures, by all parties,” according to the British parliamentary committee report, released on July 10.

The Commons Defence Committee’s comprehensive report - Russia: a New Confrontation? – covers NATO’s relations with Russia, the August war, energy security and global security matters. It calls on the UK and other NATO members to take a tougher approach to Russia.

One of the chapters of the report, which is drawn up based on testimonials of and interviews with analysts, as well as with the Georgian and Russian officials (in Georgia the British parliamentary delegation also met with President Saakashvili), concerns the causes of the August war.

Noting that EU-funded inquiry mission into the August war has yet to produce more detailed assessment of the causes of the war, the committee said its conclusion was that all the parties shared the responsibility.

“Both Russia and Georgia share responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of the conflict that have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced from their homes,” it reads.

“Russia provoked Georgia through its actions over many years. Russian provocation included fuelling separatism in the region through the distribution of passports in the breakaway Georgian territories, building up its military forces in the region,” according to the report.

It, however, also says: “President Saakashvili's decision to launch an offensive on 7 August was politically reckless.”

“Russia reacted swiftly to remove Georgian forces from South Ossetia. Russia also acted with disproportionate and illegal use of force by encroaching deep into Georgian territory, far beyond the conflict area,” the report reads. “There is no doubt that Russia went well beyond any kind of peacekeeping or war-ending mandate by pushing deep into Georgia and blowing up all sorts of infrastructure, threatening civilians, ethnic-cleansing and all the rest of it.”

The report says that Russia is failing to honour its ceasefire commitments under the August 12 and September 8 agreements.

“We recommend that the UK Government send a strong message to Russia that it needs to withdraw its military forces to its pre-conflict positions as previously agreed,” it reads and also says that there was “a collective international failure at a political level to read the warning signs of an escalating conflict.”

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