As of 0800 Eastern Time / 1600 Tbilisi Time:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed the cease-fire plan designed to end its military conflict with Georgia, his office says.
However, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said it would not completely withdraw from Georgian territory until troops had finished cleaning up ammunition, weapons and boobytraps left behind by Georgian troops.
Medvedev saw the cease-fire as "very positive," said spokesman Andrei Nesterenko Saturday.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed the deal Friday, during a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. View a map of the region »
It has been the toughest week in east-west relations since the end of the Cold War after Georgia launched an offensive against the Russian-allied separatist government in South Ossetia and Russia responded by invading, the conflict also spreading to a second breakaway region -- Abkhazia.
The fighting has raised fears a new era of east-west confrontation was drawing closer, which was worsened Friday by Russian anger over a U.S. deal with Poland to base part of its missile shield in the country.
The deal, signed Thursday, would see U.S. interceptor rockets based in Poland and linked to an air-defense radar system in the Czech Republic.
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a top Russian officer, highlighted Russia's anger with the system, saying that Poland was now at risk of attack, perhaps with nuclear weapons, The Associated Press reported.
Poland moved to diffuse the situation Saturday, saying it was open to Russian inspections of the missile interceptor base, AP reported. However, the Ukraine said it was interested in joining a joint missile defense system with other European countries.
Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesman Liubov Abravitova would not specify if it was referring to the U.S. system. Watch devastation in port of Poti »
Ukraine also warned Russia it may not allow its ships involved in blockading Georgian ports to return to Crimea bases it leases from Ukraine.
The U.S. maintains its missile shield is to deter rogue attacks from Iran, but Russia says it is aimed at it.
The level of rhetoric on both sides has grown louder through the week, U.S. President George W. Bush chiding Russia for Cold War-style behavior in its territorial conflict with Georgia, accusing it of "bullying and intimidation."
Medvedev said Russia would "guarantee" peace in the Caucasus region but made no commitment to remove its forces from Georgia or its breakaway territories.
Meanwhile Rice warned Russia that it had to withdraw its troops after the cease-fire deal was signed
From the NY Times:
“The cold war is over,” President Bush declared Friday, but a new era of enmity between the United States and Russia has emerged nevertheless. It may not be as tense as the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, for now, but it could become as strained.
Russia’s military offensive into Georgia has shattered, perhaps irrevocably, the strategy of three successive presidential administrations to coax Russia into alliance with the West and integration into its institutions.
From Russia’s point of view, those efforts were never truly sincere or respectful of its own legitimate political and security interests. Those interests, it is now clear, are at odds with those of Europe and the United States.
As much as Mr. Bush has argued that the old characterizations of the cold war are no longer germane, he drew a new line at the White House on Friday morning between countries free and not free, and bluntly put Russia on the other side of it.
“With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world,” Mr. Bush said in his fourth stern statement on the conflict in five days, and the strongest to date. “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.”
Tensions are manifest already, and both sides have done their part to inflame them. The flare-up over an obscure territorial dispute in the Caucasus, one barely known to most Americans, has set off a series of tectonic shifts.
The United Nations Security Council has reverted to a cold-war-like stalemate, with American and Russian vetoes blocking meaningful action over Georgia and other issues. While the United States and Russia will continue to negotiate out of necessity, as the old superpowers did, cooperation and collaboration — however limited in the past few years — now appear even more remote over such issues as Iran’s nuclear program.
In addition Andrey sends:
Was listening Mayak during my sport, there was ORT correspndent who have been in Tskhinvali from the 1st to last day. Some squeezing as I remember:
I do not know how many victims were there, I've seen the bodies everywhere but nobody count them under bombs; first days we almost cannot do any photos as it was batter everywhere
There were 3 parts in Georgian army;
- commandos, very well trained by US, they acted hardly but without cruelty, just like soldiers doing their work;
-reservists, they were almost like sheeps, when the real fight started, they either were immediately killed or ran away, finally their main goal was to be captured by Russians because Osetinan did not capture anybody; we talked to one captured later, they were mobilized 3 days in advance "for military training" and only had one day of studing.
mercenaries, some of them were specialists like snipers, other just riffraff what had been sent to the most dangerouse places. They did the really horrible things, put shell to basements where women and children were hidding etc.,I've seen some bodies withou heads
one russian correspondent has been killed by Ostetians, he was native Georgian but worked for Russian media
Turkish correspondent has been beaten in hospital, they've started live broadcast via mobile on Turkish and Osetian women decided they are Georgian spies
More to follow:
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