Two US Air Force aid planes land in Tbilisi Thursday

Wednesday, Aug. 13, US president George W. Bush ordered an American Air Force-Navy humanitarian airlift to Georgia, demanding that Russia open all routes to these deliveries and to civilian transit.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the order, after seven days of Russian-Georgian warfare, amounted to a bid to break the sea, land and air blockade Russia still maintains against Georgia in violation of the EU-brokered ceasefire.
The first direct US-Russian military clashes in Georgia are now possible if the Russians fail to give way when challenged by US air transports and vessels heading for Georgia. For seven days, Russia has exerted exclusive mastery of Georgia’s skies, sea and land routes.
Flanked by the secretaries of state and defense, Bush said that Robert Gates as head of the military had already sent the first US Air Force C-17 military cargo plane with humanitarian and medical aid on its way to Georgia. It has already landed. Our military sources report that the US air corridor has a short distance to fly from US bases in Italy and Turkey.
Russia’s Lavrov lashed back, calling Georgia’s leadership “a special project of the United States.” At some point, he said, the US will have to choose “either support for a virtual project or real partnership [with Russia] on issues that demand collective action.”
The US president accused Moscow of violating the less than one-day old ceasefire fire in its conflict with Georgia, by sending Russian tanks and APC’s to the east of the Georgian town of Gori, threatening the capital Tbilisi, bombing the Black Sea port of Poti and sinking Georgian vessels.
Bush reiterated US support for Georgia’s democratically-elected government and territorial integrity and declared Russia must cease all military acts and withdraw to positions held before the conflict flared.
Referring to Moscow’s efforts to integrate into the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century, Bush said Russia is now putting its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions. Voicing a veiled threat, the US president said: “To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe, and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis.”
The Bush statement Wednesday followed reports of Russian tanks entering Gori after the ceasefire, and some 15 armored personnel carriers heading out of the devastated ghost city and blocking the highway connected South Ossetia to the rest of Georgia. Russian “irregulars” were reported killing, burning and looting in Gori and destroying ammunition dumps. A Georgian checkpoint has been placed outside Tbilisi.
Russia was also said to have shot down two Georgian spy drones over the breakaway province.

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