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Russia accuses UN of double standards over Georgian regions

RIA Novosti

29/08/2008 10:00 UNITED NATIONS, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has accused the UN Security Council of having double standards over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and of lacking understanding of the conflicts in the separatist Georgian regions.

"Abkhazia and South Ossetia have much stronger grounds for independence than Kosovo," Russia's envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told an open session of the Security Council on Thursday.

The inconclusive discussions took place at the request of Tbilisi, which sought to address Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Churkin said the deliberations could not be complete without hearing from representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Without understanding the expectations of the people of these republics, he said, "it is impossible to form an objective picture of what happened."

The United States and France suggested sending a UN mission to the region to establish the facts of Georgia's attack on South Ossetia and Russia's response.

"The facts are clear," Churkin said. "Georgia planned the action against South Ossetia in advance. The only thing they did not expect was that Russia would react so forcefully."

Russia launched a five-day operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" in the wake of Georgia's August 8 assault on Tskhinvali, and officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday despite Western warnings, saying the move was needed to protect the regions.

The U.S. representative at the meeting, Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, said his country "categorically condemns" Russia for violating the territorial integrity of Georgia.

British UN Ambassador John Sawers accused Russia of bypassing the diplomatic process by recognizing the two republics.

The charges were rejected by Churkin, who reiterated Russia's commitment to the principles of the ceasefire deal agreed by the Russian and French presidents on August 12.

He said that "under U.S. pressure" Georgia had refused to accept the sixth and final point of the agreement - discussions on the future status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The meeting ended with the Security Council no closer to agreeing a way forward in the dispute.

Russia is coming under increasing international pressure over its recognition of the two republics - with a critical statement Thursday from the other members of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations and a European Union summit scheduled for Monday - but beyond a freezing of relations with NATO no firm action has been taken.

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