UNSC consults on Russia, Georgia

France proposal requiring cessation of fighting, return of troops to previous positions does not pass.

Russian troops 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Russian troops 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Georgia pleaded Tuesday for a UN Security Council resolution demanding Russia's immediate compliance with a cease-fire and complete withdrawal of forces from its smaller neighbor. The United States and European nations supported Georgia's appeal. The ambassadors of Georgia, the US and Britain charged in an emergency Security Council session that Russia was destroying Georgian infrastructure and violating its territory in a continuing offensive that went far beyond the original conflict over the Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia. Backing the draft resolution put forward by France, they criticized Russia for keeping forces in Georgia despite agreeing Saturday to a European Union-brokered cease-fire. The six-point EU cease-fire demands the renunciation of the use of force, immediate cessation of hostilities, free access to humanitarian aid, and withdrawal of forces to pre-conflict positions, while allowing Russian to implement unspecified "additional security measures," according to the UN It also calls for international discussions on the conflict between Georgia and the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The briefer French draft resolution simply demands full and immediate compliance with the cease-fire, and the "immediate withdrawal of Russian forces to the lines held prior to the outbreak of hostilities, and the return of Georgian forces to their usual bases." Russia, which holds a veto on the Security Council, said it could not support the measure because it did not contain all the provisions of the EU-backed cease-fire. Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he particularly objected to the absence of a provision for additional Russian security measures, and the call for immediate withdrawal of Russian forces, which he said went beyond the cease-fire deal. He described the emergency meeting as biased against Russia, and called the French draft inadequate and insupportable. "Today in this room there's been yet another attempt to turn things on their head and portray the aggressors as the victim," he said. "There's a clear expression of propaganda in detriment to serious, important, political work which needs to be done in the Security Council." Georgia argued that a resolution was necessary and the full weight of the Security Council was essential to ending the conflict. "Unfortunately the status of affairs in Georgia has not changed despite the cease-fire agreement reached a few days ago," Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania told the council. "Georgia is occupied by Russian military forces, forces which are determined to devastate my country." Alasania charged that Russian forces continued to attack Georgian military and civilian infrastructure and Georgian citizens in an effort "aimed at destroying Georgia as a sovereign, independent state." "The cease-fire has to be backed with a subsequent UN Security Council resolution," he said. "Excellencies, we appeal you to act and act decisively." US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Washington supported the call for an emergency meeting because of continuing Russian military operations that continue to destroy civilian infrastructure and impede humanitarian relief efforts. "Russia has expanded its operations far beyond the conflict zone," Wolff said. "We have seen a deepening and widening Russian offensive." Belgium, Italy and France also expressed concern about continuing Russian presence in Georgia. The meeting ended without action on the draft resolution.