Friday, Aug 15, 2008
On arrival in Tbilisi from France Friday, Aug. 15, a week after thousands of Russian troops entered South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, US secretary of state urged Russia and Georgian to sign the European-brokered truce without delay. Russian troops and armor were still in Georgia Friday morning and destroying Georgian military equipment and ammo.
A US State Department official said Rice was bringing to Tbilisi “clarifying explanations” in the six-point truce agreement, including the questions of territorial integrity and “residual security arrangements that the Russians would be able to maintain.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the Russians are working frantically to create two narrow security belts 300-500 meters deep along the South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders with Georgia.
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They are working against the clock to finish the work before ceasefire negotiations begin so as to confront Georgia and the United States with a fait accompli. Some of the Russian crews are working several hundred meters inside Georgian territory. Unexplained explosions heard by correspondents during the day appear to be connected with these Russian projects.
Thursday night, at a Pentagon briefing with vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. James Cartwright, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Russia seems to be withdrawing from Georgia.
He warned that US-Russia ties could be “adversely affected” for years unless Moscow adjusted its “aggressive posture and actions”.
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Highlighting the “profound implications” for the entire US-Russia security relationship, Gates said Russia would have to pay “some consequences” for its attacks on Georgia.
Gates and Cartwright put an end to the rumors during the day that the Russians had poured fresh reinforcements into Georgia and were blowing up Georgian military bases, ammunition dumps and air facilities. The general said they appear to be moving back into a position where they can start to exit in an orderly fashion. Asked about the use of US military force in the conflict, Gates replied: “I don’t see any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation. Is that clear enough?”