12 August : President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday ordered a halt to the Russian military action in Georgia after five days of massive air and land attacks, saying that the mission to "force peace" in the region has been accomplished.
"The security of our peacekeepers and civilians has been restored," Medvedev said."The aggressor has been punished and suffered very significant losses. Its military has been disorganised."
At his televised meeting with the Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Chief of General Staff General Makarov, the Russian president, however, said he ordered the military to defend itself and quell any signs of Georgian resistance.
"If there are any emerging hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions, you should take steps to destroy them," he said.
Medvedev had ordered Operation Peace Enforcement on 8th August after the Georgian government troops launched a massive offensive to retake breakaway province of South Ossetia, most of the population of which are Russian citizens.
The announcement comes hours before the French President Nicholas Sarkozy is due to arrive here with a joint EU and OSCE peace plan.
Russia today virtually ruled out the joint plan proposed by the European Union (EU) and Organisation of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) and blamed the US for inciting President Saakashvili’s regime for attacking South Ossetia.
"We do not trust Saakashvili, because he has not repented for the war crimes committed by him against our citizens in South Ossetia," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stuub.
As the rotating president of OSCE Finnish Minister Stubb and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner are in Moscow after their Monday’s visit to Tbilisi, where President Saakashvili signed an EU, OSCE plan providing for immediate cessation of hostilities, restoration of military status quo by withdrawal of troops from South Ossetia and launching of humanitarian relief.
Lavrov repeated Moscow’s demand for Georgian military withdrawal to the points from where Tbilisi could not in future attack South Ossetia and a legally binding pact on non-use of force against the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
He accused the US for inciting Saakashvili for military "misadventure" in South Ossetia.
"The US have given a lot of money and equipment to Saakashvili to train Georgian Army, although we had expressed concerns that he could use it inside the country.
" However, Washington assured us that it will not happen. In the past they (Americans) have been stopping Saakashvili at our request, when he was on the verge of this, but this time for some reasons they could not control him," Lavrov said.
Speaking about his telephonic conversation with the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Lavrov said, "Rice advised us not to use words like ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’ referring to Georgian regime, but she forgot to give similar advice to Saakashvili, while talking about Russia."
Russia hardens stand ahead of Sarkozy’s visit to broker peace
Russia on Tuesday demanded the trial of Georgian President for alleged "genocide" ahead of a crucial visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy to attempt an end to the conflict over South Ossetia as Tiblisi accused Moscow of pushing close to its capital.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili must step down, and demanded that Georgian troops stay out of South Ossetia for good.
Lavrov said the best thing for Saakashvili to do "would be to step down," as Moscow won’t talk to the Georgian President.
Lavrov’s statement sets a tough stage for Russia’s talks with French President who is set to arrive in Moscow later today to broker a peace in the Caucasus.
According to Kommersant daily, Moscow has put the ouster of Saakashvili as the main condition for a peace deal as the Russian-Georgian conflict has threatened to sour relations between the Washington and Moscow.
Moscow says that the massive Georgian offensive on South Ossetia in the early hours of August 8 had resulted in the destruction of the breakaway province’s capital Tskhinvali and deaths of two thousand Ossetians and 34,000 refugees fleeing their homes.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dubbed the Ossetian exodus as "humanitarian catastrophe" and urged for the trial of those responsible for the tragedy.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Finnish colleague Alexander Stuub arrived here last night from Tbilisi with the peace deal already signed by Saakashvili.
It calls for an immediate truce, respect for Georgia’s territorial integrity and a return to the status quo that prevailed before Georgian troops punched into South Ossetia last week.Courtsey DDINEWS