GEORGIA: Saakashvili Asked To Step Down
(My piece about the latest transformations in Russia-China conflict)
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 12 (IPS) - A few hours after the 15 member U.N. Security Council discussed a draft resolution aimed to ask Russia to stop using massive force in Georgia Monday evening behind closed doors, Russia said it would stop military action. This came Tuesday, after five days of bombing and destruction of cities and military bases in Georgia and the deaths of more than 2000 people.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that the military had punished Georgia enough for its attack on South Ossetia. Western-allied Georgia had launched an offensive late Thursday to regain control over the Georgian province with close ties to Russia.
The violence prompted the Security Council to meet five times over the course of the past four days to discuss the violence, which was feared to be spreading beyond the South Ossetia region.
Questioning Russia's 'objective' embittered the U.S.-Russia interaction in the Security Council. On Aug. 10, Zelmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and Vitaly Churkin his Russian counterpart barely avoided a heated exchange when Khalilzad referred to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s phone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that morning as raising serious questions about Russia’s objectives in the conflict.
Khalilzad mentioned that Lavrov had said that President Mikheil Saakashvili, the democratically elected President of Georgia, "must go". He said that it’s "completely unacceptable" and "crossed the line".
Khalilzad asked Churkin, "Was Russia’s objective regime change in Georgia, the overthrow of the democratically elected Government of that country?" adding that, "The Russian Federation was threatening Georgia’s territorial integrity, and the Council must act decisively to reaffirm it."
In response Churkin described Khalilzad’s statement as polemical in nature. "Regarding the ceasefire, the Russian Federation’s statement had explained the formula that would lead to an end of bloodshed -- Georgia’s withdrawal from South Ossetia and agreement on the non-use of force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia," said Churkin.
"Regime change" was an American expression that Russia did not use, Churkin stressed. (To read the whole story click here)