SCE to AUX
- Sep 14, 2004
- Reaction score
These are the same totalitarians that will not consider sanctions against Iran for its nuke program. Rather they blockade Georgia over a few spies. We may need to do a Tbilisi airlift.
Russia imposed a land and air blockade on Georgia yesterday despite the country releasing four Russian officers whose arrest on spying charges has triggered the worst confrontation between the countries in years.
Ignoring appeals to calm the worsening crisis in the south Caucasus, the Kremlin decided to sever all travel and communication links with its southern neighbour. The move dampened hopes that Georgia's decision to hand over the men could defuse the grave altercation between the two ex-Soviet states.
President George W Bush telephoned Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, to express his dismay over the situation but was warned not to interfere, according to officials in Moscow.
The fighting talk in Moscow was in stark contrast to the more emollient tone struck by Georgia's pro-Western President Mikhail Saakashvili in the 24 hours preceding the climbdown that resulted in the four Russian soldiers winning their release.
Five days after their detention, the handcuffed officers three colonels and a major were brought to the prosecutor-general's office in central Tbilisi, arriving in separate police cars. Each was marched by police officers to the building's forecourt where they were formally expelled from the country.
They were then handed over to representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and driven to Tbilisi's airport from where a Russian military aircraft flew them to Moscow.
Despite initial concern in the West over what was seen as a potentially provocative act in detaining the men, European officials warned Moscow that they now expected a reconciliatory response to defuse the crisis.
Karel De Gucht, the OSCE's chairman, said: "I explicitly call on Russia to respond in a similar way with gestures to decrease the tension.