Eduard Shevardnadze: Russia is threatening Georgia

We will assume that Russian politicians' comments about taking preventative military action against other countries were simply premature and rash, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze announced in an interview with national radio yesterday.

At a meeting in the Russian Defence Ministry on October 2 devoted to reforming and modernising the armed forces, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said we can not 'rule out the possibility of taking preventative military measures if it is in the interests of Russia or its allies.' In his turn, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that 'if preventative strikes become the norm internationally then Russia reserves the right to take such steps itself.'

These comments have upset Mr Shevardnadze. He initially said they reminded him of Hitler. On Monday, however, he said such a comparison was 'relative.' Talk of preventative measures are the 'real danger' he said. He is convinced that both Mr Putin and Mr Ivanov had Georgia in mind when they made these comments. 'Of course Russia is not thinking of Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey or its eastern neighbours,' he said. 'We have already experienced such strikes in Abkhazia and then in the Pankisi gorge when innocent civilians were killed and buildings damaged,' Mr Shevardnadze said. Never the less, the Georgian president is still hopeful that the Abkhazian conflict will finally be resolved and that 'Russia will make its contribution to this historical process.'

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