Bush expects Moscow to honour Georgian truce
After meeting with his national security team about the fighting in Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Bush said he strongly supported France's efforts to broker an end to the conflict (WATCH U.S. President's address).
“Russia has also stated that it has halted military operations and agreed to a provisional cease-fire. Unfortunately, we're receiving reports of Russian actions that are inconsistent with these statements,” Bush said.
He said the U.S. is “concerned about reports that Russian units have taken up positions on the east side of the city of Gori, which allows them to block the east-to-west highway, divide the country, and threaten the capital of Tbilisi”.
He also expressed his “concerns” about reports that “Russian forces have entered and taken positions in the port city of Poti”, and that “Georgian citizens of all ethnic origins are not being protected”.
“With these concerns in mind,” the U.S. President said, he directed a series of steps to “demonstrate solidarity with the Georgian people and bring about a peaceful resolution to this conflict”.
Bush said he's sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Paris and then to Tbilisi, “where she will personally convey America's unwavering support for Georgia's democratic government”.
And the Secretary of Defense will begin a humanitarian mission to Georgians headed by the United States military. Whilst one of the U.S. planes with humanitarian aid is on its way, Bush said in the days ahead, “we will use U.S. aircraft, as well as naval forces, to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies”.
In his address the President said Washington expects “Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia”, and all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.
“Russia's ongoing action raised serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region,” he added.
And at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica once again reiterated her unwavering support of Georgia.
“The U.S. has made very clear that it is standing by the democratically elected government of Georgia. This is a small neighbour of Russia. It is a country that has made a considerable progress in terms of the economy. It’s still trying to secure its democratic institutions and we’ve worked with Georgia on that. But if any one has any doubt about our support for Georgia you only have to look at the fact that Georgia is a millennium challenge country which one of the most important designations U.S. can make, we believe, in the future if this country,” she said.
Russia reacts quickly to U.S. President’s speech
The Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has strongly criticised the superficial knowledge from America about the conflict.
“No Russian troops that are enforcing a peacekeeping operation in Georgia have been sent to Poti. Over the last few days Russian troops have been operating near the towns of Gori and Sinaki. It’s an open secret,” he said.
Lavrov noted that Bush said nothing about the last few years when Georgia was being armed by many countries, including the United States.
“The U.S. President didn’t say anything about our efforts in recent years to persuade Georgia to sign non-use of force agreements with Tskhinvali and Sukhumi. And of course, the speech doesn’t mention in any way the events in South Ossetia and especially what happened last Friday night,” Russia’s Foreign Minister said.