Share this article Share There are concerns a new front away from South Ossetia could open up around Abkhazi, which would represent a major escalation in the conflict. Thousands of troops, dozens of tanks and Hurricane multiple rocket launchers were seen pouring along roads to the south of Russia. Russian warplanes also launched new attacks inside Georgia today, one on the outskirts of the capital and another on the Black Sea port of Poti. Officials in the breakaway region today claimed Georgian troops had also resumed shelling there after its calls for a ceasefire were ignored by Russia.
President Bush warned Mr Putin of his 'grave concern' about the 'disproportionate' military intervention at a face-to-face meeting in Beijing yesterday. Bush with Vladimir Putin in Beijing. Putin today lashed out in return, accusing the U.
In a statement, he added: Mr Putin and Russian President, Dimitry Medvedev, attended a summit with senior generals at the Kremlin today for a council of war. President Medvedev announced later that its military operations in South Ossetia were 'nearing conclusion'. Family and friends of an Ossetian killed in the fighting in Tskhinvali weep at his funeral today Safety: The first group of 95 Poles evacuated from Georgia arriving in Warsaw today Russia was also reported to have sent more paratroopers into Abkhazia where it now has more than 9, soldiers as well as tanks and armoured vehicles.
Sergei Chaban, who is in charge of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, had warned their forces must disarm or face Russian troops there as well as in South Ossetia where the conflict began on Friday.
A ground invasion launched from Abkhazia would be a drastic step, and almost impossible for Georgia to counter with most of its troops still near South Ossetia. It was also alleged dozens of Russian bombers were attacking targets inside Georgian territory, including around Tbilisi.
A woman lies injured in the ruins of an apartment block in Gori Basic: The wounded stay in a hospital shelter in the South Ossetian capital Russian officials said the air raids were targeting supply lines and military facilities and were not directed at civilians but one in Gori on Saturday killed more than 20 and wounded scores of others.
Meanwhile NATO also joined the condemnation today, accusing Russia of using excessive force and violating Georgia's territory by taking the military action beyond South Ossetia. Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was 'seriously concerned about the disproportionate use of force by the Russians and the lack of respect for the territorial integrity of Georgia,' a spokesman said. In further developments, Russia accused Georgia of killing three of its troops in the shelling on the South Ossetian capatal Tskhinvali and claimed another two of its planes had been shot down.
Vice President Dick Cheney left phoned Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili in person to offer America's backing to the region A separate Council of Europe delegation lead by Sweden's foreign minister was also on its way to the Georgian capital for talks.
Georgia claimed yesterday to have pulled out its troops from South Ossetia and was calling for a ceasefire. The demand was rejected by the Kremlin, which said it did not believe the Georgian forces had actually retreated. The region is an international flashpoint, given its vital position in terms of oil supplies which run from the Caspian Sea to Europe through the small country.
It is feared the Kremlin could be using the conflict to disrupt fuel supplies, which would make the West even more dependent on Russian oil. A man cradles the body of a relative in the street after Russian planes bomb homes in Gori, killing five people Two women attempt to sleep after taking refuge in the hospital shelter State-controlled Russian television claim more than 2, people have been killed in South Ossetia and thousands made homeless.
And a Georgian government source said yesterday that civilians and military personnel had been killed and 1, wounded, many because of Russian bombing. The smaller country's withdrawal from South Ossetia left Russian troops in control. Many towns were deserted with reports of 40, fleeing across the war zone. Some 50 ambulances were ferrying wounded Georgian troops from South Ossetia to hospitals in neighbouring cities, all of which were already overcrowded. Enlarge Russian television showed Tskhinvali's main hospital in ruins and most of the more than patients crammed into the basement.
A few bare lightbulbs provided scant illumination and the report said the hospital had no ready supply of water. Some patients sat listlessly on beds jammed into a tiny, dim area with unfinished walls. An injured soldier in the village of Dzhava South Ossetians stay in a school shelter in the South Ossetian capital of Tshinvali Russia's Defence Ministry also claimed yesterday to have sunk a Georgian missile boat that was trying to attack its navy in the Black Sea.
South Ossetia, which unlike Georgia proper, is loyal to Russia - provided the catalyst for the dispute. Pro-Moscow rebels provoked Georgia's president into ordering his troops into South Ossetia last week.
Mr Putin's government then retaliated with a counter-offensive to seize back the disputed region. However, the escalation of violence has led to concerns that Russia could try to annex the entire country. Every democratic movement in this neighbouring region must be got rid of. A woman holding her baby cries at her damaged home in Gori Russian planes yesterday bombed the main civilian airport in the capital Tbilisi, which is used by British Airways and other Western airlines.
A government official said the Russian air strike appeared to have been aimed at the nearby military airport and an aviation construction plant. The attack came hours before the arrival of the French foreign minister on a peace mission. Georgian troops ride on a pick-up truck Despite the attempts of the international community to calm the crisis, Mr Putin was bullish last night, blaming Georgia for creating a 'humanitarian catastrophe'.
He appeared on TV listening to two young women from an Ossetian village who claimed that Georgian soldiers herded 50 people into a house and burned them alive. One of them said: It is clear that Moscow is intent on severely hampering Georgia's military capability, which has been built up with Western help. Crucial strategic sites in the port of Poti, the city of Gori - staging post to South Ossetia - and around Tbilisi have been taken out by the Russian air force.
Worst-hit was the capital of the separatist region, Tskhinvali, but death and devastation was wreaked across the region, as well as in cities in Georgia. An injured woman stands next to her bombarded home Fleeing: Mother and son stare at the carnage as they are evacuated Western concerns about Moscow's desire to control the region's oil supply were yesterday gathering strength.
While Georgia does not produce oil itself, U. The head of Azerbaijan's state oil company warned that exports had already been halted via the Georgian ports of Batumi and Kulevi due to the fighting. The announcement came shortly after Russian warplanes staged a raid near the 1,mile BTC pipeline, the world's second longest. BP, a partner in this project, was seeking information on the reports.
Some analysts believe Russia provoked Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, knowing that the smaller country could not win the resulting conflict. Others say that Moscow was simply drawing a red line around areas with pro-Russian populations which it would not allow to be controlled by pro-Western states.
The regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia are culturally and linguistically distinct from Georgia, and broke away from it during brief wars in the early s. On Saturday Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko said at least 2, civilians had died in Tskhinvali alone as a result of fighting between Russian and Georgian forces, according to Interfax news agency. He said 13 Russian peacekeepers were killed and up to 70 injured in the fighting.
Sergei Sobyanin, the Russian government chief of staff, said 30, South Ossetian refugees had fled to Russia since early on Friday. A source in the Georgian government told Reuters on Saturday Georgian civilians and military were killed and wounded. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Russian aerial bombing had killed around 30 Georgian soldiers.
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