The beginning of the week saw a new round of UN Security Council consultations to focus on the current situation in the buffer, or security, zones adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a move that was initiated by the Russian delegation within the UNSC. Georgian forces sadly continue to launch an array of military provocations in the security zones in what he says is clearly out of sync with the Medvedev-Sarkozy settlement plan.
During the consultations, the Russian side lamented the fact that Tbilisi continues to build up its military presence near Abkhazia’a and South Ossetia’s borders by deploying armed vehicles and Special Forces units there. Similar saber-rattling, Russian officials stressed, will hardly help to create a positive political landscape for continuing to grapple with security and stability in the Caucasus during the upcoming relevant discussions in Geneva, slated for mid-November.
For his part, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, have repeatedly pointed the finger at EU observers, who he complained continue to turn a blind eye to Tbilsi-initiated incessant provocations against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Regrettably, EU monitors have thus far failed to stick to the assumed obligations to act as guarantors of Georgia’s non-use of force toward the breakaway republics, the Russian top diplomat emphasized.
It was the European Union that moved to assume an obligation to act as a guarantor of the non-use of force toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Lavrov says. And turning a blind eye to what is now unfolding in the security zones is nothing but a dangerous play with fire, he warned. Now, we desperately need to establish a clear-cut demilitarized regime inside the zones that will be overseen by UN, EU and OSCE observers, Lavrov insisted, adding that otherwise, the destabilization might well be fraught with new hostilities.
Luckily, the EU itself seems to have started rethinking its stance toward the South Ossetian conflict with many EU members coming to realize that it was the Saakashvili regime, which unleashed the aggression. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in turn, reported this week that it obtained evidence suggesting that the Georgian military might have committed war crimes against South Ossetian civilians. BBC correspondent Tim Whewell said in a radio program that he had been the first Western news-hawk to arrive in the conflict zone and talk to the locals. They told him, among other things, that Georgian tanks cynically shelled apartment buildings, while the commandos targeted civilians trying to flee capital Tskhinvali. Even more, when visiting South Ossetia, members of the Human Rights Watch international investigative organization also found evidence of the disproportionate use of force by the Georgian military.
The UN Security Council discussions showed that the international community are now keen to create a regional stability-friendly international mechanism in the buffer zones, whose security are currently under threat in the wake of Russian peacekeepers’ withdrawal from there. And capitalizing on this, the Georgian side regrettably continues to launch provocations in the conflict area – something that exacerbates even further what is already a tense situation in the region.