Russia Charges US Is Rearming Georgia

(VOA)   A top Russian diplomat says the United States is quietly rearming the Georgian military, and he warns the U.S. move will force Moscow to react.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin leveled the accusation Wednesday in Moscow.  He did not describe the weapons, nor indicate what form Russia’s response would take.

A top Russian general says Moscow is not planning any offensive in the Caucasus as the anniversary of last year’s brief war with Georgia approaches on Friday.  However, General Anatoly Nogovitsin says Russia’s armed forces are alarmed by Georgia’s military buildup.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow told a U.S. Senate panel Tuesday that U.S. resources are currently aimed at training Georgian forces.  But he said other forms of help could be offered in the future.

Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev spoke by telephone about reducing tensions in Georgia.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also telephoned Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.  Biden stressed the need to avoid actions that could further destabilize the region.

Moscow has warned it will use “all available force” to protect the pro-Russian populations of South Ossetia and a second breakaway territory, Abkhazia.

Georgian President Saakashvili told the Reuters news agency Sunday that he knows Georgia can not use the military to retake control of South Ossetia or Abkhazia.

Russian forces swept into Georgia August 7, 2008, following Georgian attempts to regain control of breakaway South Ossetia by force.  Georgia said it only shelled South Ossetian targets after Russian forces invaded.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday called the war an “unforgiveable adventure” launched by Mr. Saakashvili.  He told Russian television hundreds of lives were lost in the conflict, which he described as a tragedy for the Georgian people.

Moscow later recognized both territories as independent countries, despite strong protests from Western governments.

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