Russia Rejects UN Security Council Resolution
August 20, 2008
By Nikola Krastev
UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council has failed for the second time this week to agree on a draft resolution on the crisis in Georgia.
The draft of the resolution circulated by France calls for the return of the Georgian military to their bases and demands full compliance with the cease-fire agreement Georgia and Russia have subscribed to.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, France's charge d'affaires to the UN, said it was important now for Russia to withdraw its forces to their positions prior to the outbreak of violence.
"President Sarkozy and other French authorities have repeatedly requested Russia to abide by this commitment of withdrawing their forces," Lacroix said.
"We have done it repeatedly over the last days, and so far we have not seen anything that points to any credible sign of withdrawal of Russian forces. And that is why today we decided to seize the Security Council, to press upon the parties, and press upon Russia in particular that these commitments, the commitments they have entered to, have to be respected."
UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told the council that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hoping the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will play active roles in resolving the Georgian crisis.
The OSCE has already deployed 20 additional military monitoring officers to Georgia, which brought their total number so far to 28. The goal, said Pascoe, is to eventually raise their number to 100.
Separatist authorities in South Ossetia, however, have said that they will welcome Russian peacekeepers but not international observers to the conflict zone.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff dismissed outright any possibility that South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's future status may be discussed at the council as possible independent entities:
"Whatever the final outcome of these discussions, one thing is clear now: South Ossetia and Abkhazia lie within Georgia's internationally recognized borders," Wolff said. "There's no room for debate on this point."
Russia officials have said it would be difficult for South Ossetia to remain under Georgian authority following the Georgia assault there.
The British ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, said Russian actions in Georgia were not "consistent" with its justifications for sending troops in.
"Only yesterday [August 18] the United Kingdom's defense attache to Georgia was turned back from a Russian checkpoint in Georgia and told he required a Russian visa in order to proceed further. Do foreigners need now Russian visas to travel within Georgia?" Sawers asked.
"It's hard to see how Russian actions are consistent with Russia's claim justification for their military assault, namely the protection of its peacekeepers and civilians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia even though most of those civilians have only recently been handed Russian passports and haven't lived in Russia."
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Chrukin accused Security Council members, except China, of trying to block the adoption of a "proper resolution" on the Georgia crisis.
"The position of the Russian Federation is crystal clear and regrettably, the position of some of the council's members is not anymore a secret to anyone," Churkin said. "This is by far a nonconstructive position and may be a position with a double or even triple bottom [meaning]."
He also rejected Georgian charges that Russian promises on troop withdrawals were "ambiguous." Churkin said that Russia will accept a resolution only after it includes the six-point plan agreed by the presidents of Russia and France on August 12.
"To achieve this, we need, I think the whole international community needs the support of the Security Council, which has to produce an appropriate resolution supporting these six points," he said.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia can veto any resolution not to its liking.
Copyright (c) 2008. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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