Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Georgia’s attack was no surprise – Rice

The August conflict over South Ossetia came as no surprise to the United States, according to the outgoing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Georgia’s attack was no surprise – RiceCondoleezza RiceIn an interview with Agence France Press, she said Washington didn't agree with Georgia's military actions against South Ossetia.

“I don't think that in the days before the events of August 8, Georgia really behaved in a way that was responsible,” Rice said.

Secretary Rice revealed that a month before the conflict she had visited Georgia to see if it would accept a pledge never to resort to force. The proposal was put forward by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. 

Georgia attacked its breakaway republic of South Ossetia on August 8. 
Russia has since recognised the independence of South Ossetia and the other Georgian breakaway republic, Abkhazia.

“It would have been a huge embarrassment if this statement had come one or two days after or during the conflict because it makes the US look very bad. It‘s quite natural that it came four months later because it has become impossible to say again and again that it was Russia who started the conflict as more and more proof is revealed putting the full blame of the attack on Georgia. This is a life-saving gesture,” says political analyst Dmitry Babich.

Condoleezza Rice’s interview came along with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accusing the US of continuing to support Georgia's future membership of NATO, despite previous promises.

"When we were drawing our US and European partners’ attention, more than once, to where the Saakasvhili regime was trying to drive us all, we were told by Washington, ‘Don’t worry, if he resorts to force, he can forget about NATO membership.’ So, Mr. Saakashvili did use military force” said Lavrov.

Lavrov’s statement came at a media briefing with his Abkhazian counterpart, Sergey Shamba, with whom Lavrov signed a memorandum agreeing that Russia will represent the interests of Abkhazia in other countries.

Related links:

South Ossetians in the US: will anyone listen? 

Russia declares Saakashvili a criminal 

Georgian military aggression was a mistake – Sarkozy

The night Georgia stormed Tskhinval

Tshinval tragedy: eyewitness testimonies