Friday, 14 November 2008

Letters: The August War: The Russian and Georgian Versions

November 12, 2008 - The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Accounts Undercut Claims by Georgia on Russia War” (front page, Nov. 7):

The August war in the Caucasus was started by the Georgians under a false pretext on the night of Aug. 7. Civilians and Russian peacekeepers were attacked.

The attack on the peacekeepers provided the legal ground for us to act in self-defense under the United Nations Charter. The attack on civilians gave us no other option but to interfere.

The observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe knew what was happening and reported that through their chain of command, but that information was withheld from the O.S.C.E. member states.

Mikheil Saakashvili violated four years of promises he had been giving to us, to the people of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia and, we were told, to the American administration that he would never use force to resolve the conflicts between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The truth undermines not only the Georgian claims on the war, but also the entire premise of the vicious “Russian aggression” campaign that was conducted in Washington and some other capitals.

Vitaly Churkin
Ambassador of Russiato the United Nations
New York, Nov. 10, 2008

To the Editor:

“Accounts Undercut Claims by Georgia on Russia War” acknowledges that there is inconclusive evidence on a crucial question: What triggered Russia’s invasion of Georgia?

Only Georgia has relentlessly called since August for an international investigation into the war’s origins — and has offered access to every piece of evidence and every witness, even as Russia continues to occupy Georgian territory.

There is evidence of Russia’s long-term plans to invade Georgia. The bombings, airspace violations and many other armed Russian provocations in the months before the invasion have been chronicled. Andrei N. Illarionov, an adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia when he was the president, has described the invasion as “carefully planned and built up since the spring of 2004.”

Moreover, human rights observers have documented the systematic targeting of ethnic Georgians by Russian forces and Russia-backed militia groups.

The world would benefit from a transparent, international investigation, rather than piecemeal reports based on incomplete evidence.

Vasil Sikharulidze
Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Mexico and Canada
Washington, Nov. 7, 2008

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