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Russia armed South Ossetian, Abkhazian rebels - WikiLeaks

RIA Novosti

11:39 02/12/2010 MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia supplied separatist forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia with weapons in the lead-up to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, U.S. diplomatic cables published by the WikiLeaks website allege.

The cables also claimed the Kremlin had been involved in missile attacks and murder plots in what the US ambassador in Tbilisi, John Tefft, called “a high-stakes covert game.”

"The South Ossetians have reportedly received arms and equipment from Russia, including Grad missiles, on various occasions, including during recent tensions, “he wrote almost a year before the two countries went to war.

He suggested was the aim was to "provoke the Georgian leadership into a rash reaction that separates Georgia further from the West" with the “deeper goal” of “turning Georgia from its Euroatlantic orientation back into the Russian fold.”

The cables also say that the Bush administration warned Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili not to engage in military action against the two breakaway republics.

A cable written by then U.S. ambassador to Russia, William Burns, revealed that Matt Bryza, the US deputy assistant secretary of state, had told Tbilisi that “if Georgia uses force or stumbles into a conflict, Saakashvili will find himself alone, blamed by the international community for recklessness."

Russia recognized the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia two weeks after the end of the war. The decision was slammed by Western powers. So far, only Venezuela, Nicaragua and the tiny island nation of Nauru have followed suit.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been placed on an Interpol wanted list in connection with rape charges he faces in Sweden. He denies the allegations. Britain's The Independent newspaper said on Thursday that he was hiding in southeast England and Scotland Yard was awaiting instructions to arrest him.

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