Can Russia deliver pre-emptive blows at bandit units in Georgia?

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov did not exclude the possibility of delivering pre-emptive blows at the bandit units which are moving from the territory of Georgia.

"I cannot exclude this possibility," Sergei Ivanov told reporters. "If we see that the bandits are moving in our direction, and only some 10-15 kilometres remain till our border, there will be no reason to wait any longer."

"Naturally, in this situation we shall make pre-emptive actions, that is, we shall defend our security and the life of the Russian citizens," pointed out the minister. "We have simply no other way out."

Sergei Ivanov underscored that "the destruction of the militants, who hide themselves in the Georgian territory, is in the interests not only of Russia, but also of Georgia itself, of the world community as a whole"

The Russian Defence Minister has arrived in Washington to attend the first session of the Consultative Group on questions of strategic stability which has been set up at the level of the Foreign and Defence Ministers of Russia and the Secretaries of State and Defence of the United States.

He also stated that the Russian side would not tolerate any longer terrorists' raids from the territory of Georgia. "One thing which we need is that attacks and aggression from the territory of Georgia against Russia and the Russian citizens must never repeat - no more, no less," underscored the Russian Defence Minister.

Speaking about the situation in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia, which was turned by Chechen militants into a springboard for attacking the Russian territory, Sergei Ivanov underscored that the Russian side has tons of evidences of the presence in Georgia of concrete terrorists and not only Chechens, but also terrorists of other nationalities."

Sergei Ivanov explained that there were "people of very many states" in the Pankisi Gorge," and all these things have been registered." In this connection the minister stated of his intention to pass over to the American partners additional confidential information through secret services.

Sergei Ivanov underscored that the Georgian side "does not want, but more than that - it cannot fight against the militants, it cooperates with them." He pointed out that the American side will be given "irrefutable proofs that officials from the Georgian structures maintain contacts with and render assistance to terrorists, trying to turn their actions into one or another direction - be it Abkhazia, which has unilaterally separated from Georgia, or Russia, or Azerbaijan.

"We do not agree with Georgia's position which implies that bandits and terrorists must themselves leave the republic in any direction," pointed out the Russian Defence Minister. He is convinced that "this will not solve the problem of terrorism, but may lead to even more serious consequences, including for Georgia itself. The minister believes that Georgia must start with extraditing to Russia the thirteen armed terrorists who were detained by the Georgian authorities in the republic's territory.

As was pointed out by Sergei Ivanov, he intends to raise the problem of militants in Georgia at the Warsaw meeting of the Russian and NATO Defence Ministers on September 25. He said that he would give to his colleagues from NATO "the entire information concerning the situation in Georgia to show them how dangerous all this is."

Sergei Ivanov believes it necessary to create a security zone at the Russian-Georgian border by joint efforts of the two countries. According to him, "a security zone in the area of the Russian-Georgian border can be created only by joint efforts and with a political will of the two states."

He also believes that "this security zone can stretch for 20-45 kilometres, depending on the terrain," and "can occupy a territory without inhabited areas."

Sergei Ivanov flatly rejected the rumours that there was an exchange of Iraq for Georgia between Russia and the USA. Commenting on some reports about the deal allegedly concluded between Moscow and Washington, under which the United States will have freedom of action in Iraq in exchange for giving Russia full scope in Georgia, the minister underscored that he considered such way of raising the question absolutely wrong.

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