Georgia wants ceasefire in Ossetia war

Saturday, August 9, 2008

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The above file photo (2004) shows a sniper taking aim at Ossetian rebels in South Ossetia to allow the Georgian Army forces to move forward Photograph: Jonathan Alpeyrie

On Saturday Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, called for a ceasefire in the South Ossetian war. "I call for an immediate ceasefire," said Saakashvili, speaking in Tbilisi. "Russia has launched a full scale military invasion of Georgia."

After calling for the ceasefire Saakashvili continued by saying that "I am willing to have international mediation; I am willing to have international separation of forces; we have to establish normal regime under international supervision.”

At the same time, South Ossetia's State Committee for information and press has made a press release titled "Save the little nation from the annihilation!". Statements include that "It's impossible to count up the quantity of victims, [...] the account goes on thousand." followed by a plea for help and solidarity.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated his position regarding the ending of the conflict in a phone call with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel: "The only possible and reasonable way out of this situation is the withdrawal of Georgian troops to their initial positions and the immediate signing of a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force." He reiterated much the same position in telephone conversation with the President of the United States, George W. Bush, today.

Saakashvili's call for a ceasefire comes soon after his declaration that Georgia is now in a state of war. "I have signed a decree on a state of war. Georgia is under a state of total military aggression by the Russian navy, air force, large-scale ground operations," he said in a televised meeting that was broadcast on national television.

Alexandre Lomaia, the head of the Georgian security council, said that President Saakashvili's proposal states that the Georgian troops will withdraw from Tskhinvali, and will stop reacting to the Russian bombings.

The crisis broke out after days of heavy fighting in the region. On August 7, Georgian troops launched an offensive against the Ossetian town of Tskhinvali. Russia responded to these actions by sending their own troops into South Ossetia on August 8.

According to the Russian Presidents office, drinking water is no longer available in what constitutes South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, because "the water and sewage treatment plants have been destroyed". It is further stated that 30,000 people have left South Ossetia to seek refuge in Russia in the last 36 hours alone; and that preparations are underway to provide tented and permanent accommodation for these.

South Ossetia is a former province of Georgia that broke away from Georgia and declared its independence on November 28, 1991.