Russian news reports say that Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has arrived in a region that neighbors South Ossetia, where the armed conflict is taking place.
They say Putin is visiting the city of Vladikavkaz, the provincial capital of the region of North Ossetia that neighbors South Ossetia.
Putin said at a work meeting in Vladikavkaz that he could not imagine how it could be possible to make South Ossetia become a part of Georgia afterwards.
“Georgia’s actions are criminal, whereas Russia’s actions are absolutely legitimate,” the Russian Prime Minister said.
Putin urged the Georgian administration to immediately end aggression in South Ossetia.
“The actions of the Georgian authorities in South Ossetia are obviously a crime. It is a crime against its own people, first and foremost,” Putin stated.
“A deadly blow has been struck on the territorial integrity of Georgia itself, which implies huge damage to its state structure,” Putin emphasized.
“The aggression has resulted in numerous victims including those among civilians and has virtually led to a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.
The Russian PM stressed out that Russia would always treat the Georgian nation with great respect, as a brotherly nation, despite the current tragic events.
“Time will pass and the people of Georgia will give their objective estimations to the actions of the incumbent administration,” Putin said.
Putin believes that Georgia’s aspiration to become a member of NATO is not based on Georgia’s wish to become a part of the global international security system and contribute to the strengthening of international peace.
“It is based on an attempt of the Georgian administration to get other countries involved in its bloody affairs,” he said.
Russia ’s actions in South Ossetia are absolutely grounded and legitimate, Putin said.
“In accordance with international agreements, including the agreement of 1999, Russia does not only execute peacemaking functions, but is obliged, in case one party breaks the cease-fire agreement, to defend the other party, which is exactly what we are doing in case with South Ossetia,” Putin stated.
Russia has been playing a positive and stabilizing role in the Caucasus for ages, Putin said.
“We perfectly realize what world we live in today. We will strive for fair and peaceful solutions of all conflicting situations, which we inherited from the past,” the head of the Russian government said.
Russia 's president Dmitry Medvedev has told U.S. President George W. Bush that Georgia must withdraw its forces from South Ossetia in order to end hostilities there.
The Kremlin says that President Dmitry Medvedev told Bush in a telephone conversation Saturday that Georgia must also sign a legally binding agreement not to use force.
Medvedev voiced hope that the United States could help push Georgia in that direction, and said Russia had to act to protect its citizens and enforce peace.
Georgia launched a massive attack Friday to regain control over South Ossetia. Russia responded by sending in tanks and troops and bombing Georgian territory.
Bush has urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops.
Military forces in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia launched air and artillery strikes Saturday to drive Georgian troops from their bridgehead in the region, officials said.
Sergei Shamba, foreign minister in the government of Abkhazia, said Abkhazian forces intended to push Georgian forces out of the Kodori Gorge. The northern part of the gorge is the only area of Abkhazia that has remained under Georgian government control.
Shamba said the Abkhazian move was prompted by Georgia's military action to regain control over South Ossetia, which began Friday. He said Abkhazia had to act because it has a friendship treaty with South Ossetia.
Russia has close ties with both unrecognized republics and granted its passports to most of their residents.
Georgia 's Security Council secretary Alexander Lomaia said that Georgian administrative buildings in the Kodori Gorge were bombed, but he blamed the attack on Russia.
In 2006, Georgian forces moved into the upper part of the Kodori Gorge to root out members of a defiant militia. Georgia later established a local administration made up of people who fled the fighting in Abkhazia.
Abkhazian and Russian officials have said they believe Georgia intends to launch an offensive from there to retake Abkhazia and demanded the withdrawal of Georgian troops from the area.
Shamba said the Abkhazian forces had to act because diplomatic efforts to settle the dispute over Georgia's presence in the gorge had failed. "Georgian forces in the Kodori Gorge posed a real threat," Shamba said.
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