Russia will respond if Georgia starts military actions in
Abkhazia or South Ossetia that could endanger Russian citizens,
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov
said on Sunday.
"Russia doesn't need this war. We cannot and don't want to fight
with the friendly Georgian people," Ivanov said on the "News of the
Week" program broadcast by a Russian TV channel over the Russian
But "Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a different matter," Ivanov
said. "There are our peacekeepers there, and there are a lot of
Russian citizens there as well as in Georgia. There is an
overwhelming majority of them in Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- up
to 90 percent."
Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia's central
government in the early 1990s and Russian peacekeepers have been
deployed in the two regions since then.
"And if the Georgian leadership launches a military attack
against our peacekeepers, Russian citizens, and if ethnic cleansing
and genocide start there, Russia will not remain indifferent,"
"As for the conflicts existing on Georgian territory, first, we
have been blamed for trying to annex part of the territory. We are
not going to annex anything, and we are not going to make these
territories part of Russia," he said.
"It is a different question that the Georgian leadership's
policy in relation to the autonomies in the past 15 years has done
everything to drive them away. There have been two wars in South
Ossetia and Abkhazia, each, with the result we all know," he
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained by
tensions over Georgia's two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring South
Ossetia and Abkhazia back under Tbilisi's control. Georgia's
parliament has demanded the pullout of Russian troops from the
The arrest last week of four Russian officers in Georgia on
spying charges has added to the already tense relationship. Georgia
released the men later, but Moscow slapped sweeping economic
sanctions on Tbilisi, cutting transport and postal links with the
(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2006)