At UN, Georgia Claims Russia Spreads Conflict to
Abkhazia, Renouncing Force Rejected
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
August 8 -- Georgia accused Russia on
Friday of expanding the South Ossetia fight to its other breakaway
Abkhazia. During the UN Security
Council's second emergency meeting, Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania
had just gotten a call from his Foreign Minister describing Russian
a Western port and of the Upper Kodori Valley.
the first, midnight meeting at which a three sentence press statement
by Russia was rejected by the U.S., France, the UK and others due to
reference to renouncing the use of force, Inner City Press asked Amb.
if all was quiet on the Abkhaz front. "I hope so," he answered.
Georgia's Amb. Alasania, American flag behind, per UN Photo
hours later, that changed. As the Council's public meeting broke up, a
version of the statement was being negotiated, in which the
renunciation of the
use of force would be replaced by a call to "refrain" from the use of
violence, or from acts of violence. What this will change on the ground
Update of 5:35
p.m. -- following Amb. Alasania's question to Churkin, "Will you stop
the jets?" a diplomat marveled to Inner City Press that it hearkened
back to 1962, when the U.S. demanded of Russia, do you have missiles in
Cuba, yes or no? I am not in an American courtroom, the Russian
representative replied. Did Alasania take this as his model?
diplomat also marveled at what Alasania called the bombing of the port
of Poti, "Georgia's main port," and Russia's demand for an apology...
5:56 p.m. -- Western diplomats say the rub is how to refer
to the cessation of violence and "who started it." Here's comes
Khalilzad of the US.
Update of 6:06 p.m. -- Khalilzad
pulls out talking points, four of them. The last two are directed at
Russia, to stop attacks whether by air or missile or ground forces.
Passage of even a press statement is looking less likely.
Update of 6:50 p.m. -- Well
placed Council sources tell Inner City Press "the problems are in
paragraph 2," which no longer includes a reference to renouncing the
use of force; it was the UK which was most adament in
opposing that language at the midnight meeting. "They are
negotiating this as if it were a resolution, not just a press
statement." Both Russia and the U.S. say they need instructions. The
UN's bar is full.
Update of 7:02 p.m. -- and many
give thanks for that. Because the Council, despite two public meetings
and consultations before and after, has not agreed to anything. The
president of the Council softly said things will continue tomorrow, and
then drifted off down the hall as questions were shouted after him. And
so it goes at the UN.
Update of 6:13 p.m. -- in the
hallway outside the Security Council men's room, Ambassadors Churkin
and Alasania actually talk, face to face, for nearly a minute. Footage
exists -- watch this site. Then Churkin re-enters the Council.
Update of 6:27 p.m. -- word is
that Russia needs instructions from Moscow. Meanwhile, the Ambassador
of Vietnam, last month's Council president, tells Inner City Press that
the deterioration overnight in Georgia is at least partly attributable
to the Council's failure to adopt the (first) draft press statement.
Vietnam had no problem with the call for the renunciation of the use of
force. Others thought different.