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14 Aug, 2008 14:46

Russian troops must stay on alert in conflict zone – Medvedev

President Medvedev has called on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia to remain there as a deterrent to possible attacks by Georgia. At a meeting with army officers who were involved in the fighting, he said that the cu

Medvedev said that the situation in South Ossetia continues to be very difficult.

“In such conditions we have to keep our peacekeeping contingent in constant readiness. This will be a clear constraining factor for the Georgian side and a necessary condition for overcoming the future humanitarian catastrophe”.

Medvedev also thanked the officers for high-quality and effective work during the operation in the region.

“The protection of the Russian people is the direct duty of the state,” he said. “The peacekeeping forces were acting precisely and in accordance with the goals we set. Some of the peacekeepers who were in the very heart of the action were killed”.

President Medvedev once again expressed his condolences to the relatives of those who were killed and promised the government will support them in every way possible.

“You took part in a noble operation, saving helpless people from a treacherous attack,” he said.

Destroying Russian peacekeepers was one of Georgia’s aims, says Russia

The Russian Military has said that Georgia's goal during the conflict in South Ossetia was the destruction of Russian peacekeepers. During a media conference on Thursday, Deputy General Staff Commander, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, showed photos of destroyed troop carriers to support his claim, indicating they were targeted first in order to immobilise the Russian forces (watch the media conference).

“The attack against our peacekeepers was on such a large scale they simply weren’t equipped to defend themselves against such force,” he said.

He added that that it was essential that Russia maintains a peacekeeping force in South Ossetia, in case of a sudden resumption of the conflict.

On the subject of Ukraine’s attempts to restrict the movement of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Nogovitsyn believes they were illegitimate, because it is under Moscow’s jurisdiction.

“As for our fleet I’d like to say that we had certain documented agreements which we were following, which were OK with the Ukrainians,” he said. “And now they say we have to change things and report to a different commander-in-chief. That’s nonsense.”