21 October 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

08.08.2018

Comment by the Information and Press Department on the 10th anniversary of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus

Ten years ago, on the night of August 7-8, 2008, the Government of Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia breached the agreement on a peaceful settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict by launching a full-scale military operation against South Ossetia.

Georgia’s aggression against Tskhinval, which has been universally recognised as a party to the conflict, had not been provoked in any way. Under the 1992 agreement signed between Russia and Georgia in Sochi, security in South Ossetia was maintained by the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF), comprising three battalions from Russia, South Ossetia and Georgia. There was also a Joint Control Commission comprising Russia, Georgia, North Ossetia and South Ossetia. Despite Georgia’s repeated attempts to revise the Sochi agreement, at the time of the conflict the Russian peacekeepers were deployed in South Ossetia legally within the framework of an internationally recognised settlement mechanism. OSCE observers had also been deployed in South Ossetia since 1992.

As for Abkhazia, it was officially recognised a party to the conflict in the documents adopted by the UN Security Council, including Resolution 1808, one of the recent documents adopted on this issue. A UN Observer Mission was deployed there alongside the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Force.

Late at night on August 7, Georgian forces launched a large-scale artillery attack on Tskhinval, which lasted until the following morning. Georgian General Mamuka Kurashvili announced in a televised statement that “Georgia has launched an operation to restore constitutional order in South Ossetia.” Georgia’s Grad multiple launch rocket systems stationed around Tskhinval shelled the South Ossetian capital, making no distinction between military and residential targets. On August 8, the Georgian army, supported by tanks and armoured vehicles as well as the special operations forces of the Interior Ministry, entered Tskhinval.

At the same time, the Georgian army attacked the Russian peacekeepers’ settlement. Some time before that, the Georgian military observers covertly left the area of the peacekeepers’ joint headquarters and observation posts. On August 8-10, the peacekeeping battalion repelled at least five Georgian attacks. Ten Russian peacekeepers were killed and some 40 wounded. The buildings and equipment in the peacekeepers’ settlement were destroyed or seriously damaged.

The Georgian attacks devastated Tskhinval. The majority of residential blocks were razed to the ground or damaged. The city’s utility and other critical infrastructure as well as industrial facilities were damaged, along with several villages near Tskhinval.

In light of direct threat to the life of Russian citizens in South Ossetia, the Russian leadership decided to launch an operation to enforce peace on Georgia.

The fact that it was Georgia who launched the aggression was later officially confirmed, including in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, which was established by decision of the Council of the European Union and chaired by Heidi Tagliavini from Switzerland. The report was published in autumn 2009.

The participation of the Russian armed forces in repelling the attack on South Ossetia was legitimate and in keeping with the right of self-defence as stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The Russian Federation used its armed forces in response to a large-scale Georgian attack on the Russian peacekeeping units that were deployed in South Ossetia legally and with Georgia’s permission. As per Article 51 of the UN Charter, Russia notified the UN Security Council of the application of the right of self-defence.

The Russian military operation in South Ossetia was launched solely to stop the Georgian aggression and to prevent a recurrence of aggression. The planning and implementation of that operation was strictly commensurate to the threat from Georgia. Upon completing the operation, the units of the Russian Armed Forces taking part in it were pulled back from Georgia in October 2008 in accordance with the principles for a settlement of the conflict coordinated by President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy (the Medvedev-Sarkozy six-point plan, which is often mistakenly referred to a ceasefire agreement) and the subsequent agreements of September 8, 2008.

On August 26, 2008, Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in keeping with the relevant provisions of the UN Charter, the 1970 UN Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and other fundamental international documents. The attack on South Ossetia and preparations for a similar operation against Abkhazia, which were the final stage of Georgia’s years-long policy of coercion against these nations, left them with no other option than to protect their security and the right to existence by proclaiming their self-determination as independent states.

By recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia also assumed responsibility not only for their security but also largely for their development as modern, democratic and socially and economically prosperous countries. The establishment of diplomatic relations with them on September 9, 2008 and the signing of the Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance on September 17, 2008 provided the basis for Russia’s active interaction with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

On September 8, 2008, the presidents of Russia and France approved their plan of August 12, which set out six principles for the settlement of these conflicts. Based on this plan, a new international format on stability and security in the South Caucasus, the Geneva International Discussions (GID), was launched on October 15, 2008. This event formalised the new political and legal realities that developed in the region following the Georgian military operation, much as some forces would like to present this in a different light. It has been agreed that representatives of Abkhazia, Georgia, South Ossetia, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, Russia and the United States will be equally represented at the Geneva discussions as direct parties to the settlement that are interested in maintaining stability and security in the South Caucasus. The EU, the OSCE and the UN co-chair the Geneva discussions by agreement between the parties.

The main lesson of the 2008 tragedy is that it is senseless and counterproductive to try to use force to settle international disputes or conflicts, especially when the issue concerns the complex and delicate sphere of ethnic relations. The use of violence in such cases can only have the most painful and sometimes irremediable consequences. Over the ensuing period, Russia has been working in the South Caucasus to resume dialogue and comprehensive negotiations between Georgia on the one hand, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other hand. The first step towards this goal could be the signing of non-use-of-force agreements. We hope that common sense will prevail after all.

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3315007

 

 




LATEST EVENTS

15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.


15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.


13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.


12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.


09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.


08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.


05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.


03.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on INF Treaty

Question: How would you comment on the latest statements by US officials on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with INF Treaty? Answer: Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). The US allegations of Russian non-compliance relate to one particular missile type. While we have assured Washington on multiple occasions that the mentioned missile does not violate INF, the US has never explained the exact reasons of their preoccupation. These allegations divert attention from the American actions that are breaching a number of INF provisions.



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