This announcement from the Kremlin came after Moscow’s first formal statement on its terms for ending hostilities in the Caucasian War. A senior Russian army commander confirmed the troops had received orders top their advance.
debkafile‘s military sources: Moscow’s curb on Russian forces leaves Abkhazian and South Ossetian troops free to combat the Georgian army.
The Russian spokesman Boris Malakhov, explaining President Dimitry Medvedev’s decision to end the Georgian military operation, denied Russian troops were ever in Georgian territory, but only in the “peacekeeping” regions [South Ossetia and Abkhazia). Moscow reserved the right to respond militarily to future Georgian attacks.
Referring to the second breakaway region, Malakhov said Abkhazian troops were trying to liberate the Kodory Gorge from Georgian occupying troops. Moscow has no desire for “regime change”, which he said was an American expression, or territorial ambitions in Georgia. “Our only goal was to enforce peace and since this goal has been achieved, our president has ended the operation.”
Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov earlier demanded total Georgian withdrawal from South Ossetia and retreat not only from the breakaway region but also the facilities in the vicinity of next-door Gori used to attack the region. A similar withdrawal must take place in areas of Georgia abutting Abkhazia as well. He demanded a signed pledge from Georgia renouncing the use of force and said that Georgian president Mikhail Saakashivili was no longer trusted as a negotiating partner.
The Russian bombardment of Gori, deserted Monday night by Georgian troops, continued earlier Tuesday and focused on Georgian artillery positions. Rocket explosions reported by witnesses killed four people, among them a Dutch TV correspondent.
Lavrov and the Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb answered reporters’ questions in Moscow Tuesday, Aug. 12 ahead of French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s arrival to launch a mediation bid that will take him later to Tbilisi.
The meeting between NATO ambassadors and Russia scheduled for Tuesday was postponed, slowing the diplomatic momentum.
Stubb said he was sick and tired of the battle of words and wanted everyone to focus on securing a ceasefire, solving the humanitarian problem and stopping the inflammatory rhetoric.
Lavrov said Russia wanted to restore peace but ruled out Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili as a partner for peace talks who is not trusted any more. This is not a pre-condition, he said, but it would best if he resigned before peace talks began. His actions need to be investigated because Georgia’s steps amounted to genocide.
“We have no plans to impose leadership in Georgia; other countries do that,” he said. “We leave that to the Georgian people.”
The Russian foreign minister said Saakashvili had been hysterical when he accused Moscow of seeking to annex Georgia, which was not true.

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