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27 Aug, 2008 15:09

‘Western lectures puzzle us’: Lavrov

Beijing has expressed concern over stability in the Caucasus region but has refrained from outright condemnation of Russia’s actions. The response from most countries in the West has been far more critical. Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov reacted by blaming the

Turkey has taken a similar line to China and has urged dialogue.

Meanwhile French President Nicolas Sarkozy is pressing for new talks to determine the role of Russian forces in the region, particularly those currently on Georgian soil.

Those demands have been echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I have reiterated that in my view the six-point peace plan regrettably is not fulfilled, particularly in view of the presence of Russian troops in Poti and other checkpoints, and at the same time I made clear why we have condemned the recognition of Abkhazia and Ossetia, also in accordance with the French presidency,” Merkel said.

On a visit to Ukraine, the UK's Foreign Secretary has urged former Soviet states to be cautious of provoking Russia.

David Miliband said President Medvedev has a responsibility not to start a new Cold War, and that recognition by Russia did not equate to internationally recognised sovereignty.

“I hope that Russia will also see that the recognition of territories by Russia does not change the facts in the international community or on the ground,” he said.

Russian FM surprised

Following the comments by the international community, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is surprised by the West being so critical of Russia’s effort to settle conflicts in Georgia.

“When our Western colleagues lecture Russia concerning its position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, this puzzles us. They disregard the facts, they avoid our questions concerning how this all started, and they completely ignore the fact that we lost hundreds of our civilians and peacekeepers, who were operating under an OSCE mandate,” Lavrov said.

What really took place is not that Russian tanks went to another country. It was Georgian tanks, Georgian multiple rocket launchers, Georgian aircraft attacking peaceful Tskhinval. This took place on the first day of the Olympics. What Saakashvili did was a brazen violation of the Olympian truce declared by the General Assembly," he added.