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15 Aug, 2008 06:17

Violence in South Ossetia conflict zone is over – Russian military

All hostilities in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict zone have stopped completely, according to the Russian military. Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, told a media briefing it was a promising start

He said: “The first principle – not to resort to the use of force – is generally observed. The second is to stop hostilities altogether. I have not told you about a single shot today. It has been stopped.”

To watch a part of the media briefing with Col. Gen.

«120 media workers and diplomats and the Patriarch of Georgia Ilya II visited Gori on Thursday,» he said. “All of them could witness that none of the destruction that the Georgian side had been depicting so colorfully could be seen.”

Nogovitsyn announced that a Russian military unit is now in Gori, which he said was to ensure security for the local population.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has boosted its humanitarian aid for Georgia. By Friday morning, five C-17 military transport aircraft landed there.

“We would like to know the character of the delivered cargo,” said Col. Gen. Nogovitsyn.

He reported 1728 firearms have been seized at the Georgian base in Senaki, including foreign-made weapons.

“Of the total number, there were 764 M-16 rifles made in 2005 and 2006, M-40 submachine guns and other weapons, including 754 Kalashnikov assault rifles,” Nogovitsyn said.

He added that a large amount of military gear, weapons and ammunition have been found at abandoned positions as a result of an operation to pull the Georgian military out of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.

Nogovitsyn said it was essential to leave armed forces in South Ossetia in case of any sudden resumption of the conflict.

The Colonel General added he was “not ready” to say when Russian troops would leave the area. He also told of his belief that Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia must conclude a new agreement on peacekeeping activities in the region.

Russia will also boost humanitarian aid to South Ossetia, and the international Red Cross are to discuss their contribution with the Russian side on Friday.

He added agreement has been reached with local authorities to distribute relief supplies in Gori with the help of the clergy.

According to Nogovitsyn, the Russian military is finding a large number of mines at civilian facilities in South Ossetia.

“In some cases, mines were planted even underneath entrances to basements where injured civilians were hiding,” he said.

The Colonel General said that such methods, apparently used by Georgian troops, could not be described as humane.

As for the losses on both sides, Nogovitsyn explained that the Russian General Staff doesn’t have precise data yet.

He said: “Currently both sides are updating these figures. There are many causes for that. Primarily, the approach to the counting is very approximate because the troops moved dynamically and not always to the planned location.”

Nogovitsyn described as slanderous claims that the Russian military had used cluster bombs in the conflict zone.
“All lies prepared in advance have been exhausted, I think” he said. “We did not use cluster bombs. There was no necessity to use them. And even so, they could not have been used on August 6.”

As for the exchange of Russian and Georgian war prisoners, he said the two sides are carrying out work in this direction but “it is early to talk about the results.”

He said special structures have been created in Russia for this purpose.

‘Poland exposes itself to a strike’

The Colonel General said that if Poland allows part of the U.S. missile defence shield on its territory, it will expose itself to a strike.

He also said a deal between the U.S. and Poland aggravates the situation against the backdrop of events in South Ossetia.

‘Russia is ready to co-operate with NATO’

Answering a question about joint military exercises with NATO in the Mediterranean Sea, Nogovitsyn said: "Russia is fulfilling its obligations and is fully engaged in preparations for these events.

“We think it would not be expedient to avoid partnership with such a state as Russia because we are a very serious and fast-developing state with a powerful economy, which plays its worthy role in the world community.”