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Georgia asks Russia to halt attacks

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said that his country was ready to take immediate steps towards a ceasefire in South Ossetia providing Russia stopped its attacks.

world Updated: Aug 09, 2008 23:04 IST

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told CNN Saturday his country was ready to take immediate steps towards a ceasefire in South Ossetia providing Russia stopped its attacks.

"We are willing to do ceasefire immediately, provide the other side stops to shoot and to bomb," the Georgian leader told the US television network.

"And we are willing to disengage, disengage immediately, and as soon as they stop to shoot at us we're willing to take any steps, first steps required for us."

He accused Moscow of war crimes against his people as Russian warplanes on Saturday carried out bombing raids across Georgia, reportedly leaving scores dead.

"The reality is that (the) small nation of Georgia is being brutally attacked by big neighbor Russia," Saakashvili said, as the conflict over control of South Ossetia widened well beyond the breakaway region.

Russia backs the separatist government in South Ossetia and sent in tanks and troops on Friday in response to pro-Western Georgia's military campaign to take back the province which broke away in the early 1990s.

But Saakashvili said: "Russian tanks unprovoked came into Georgia into a small nation in the middle of the country.

"They're fighting war and they're bombing us all around the country. They're bombing us from the west, from the east and from the north and from the south. They are bombing civilian targets," he said.

"And the point is this should stop immediately. The world should unify, time for the world to deal unequivocally, to deal with this violence. Speak with one voice. To condemn these war crimes."

The Georgian president was speaking just as the UN Security Council agreed to meet again later Saturday in a bid to reach a consensus on a call for a ceasefire.

Late Friday, the council failed for the second time to reach agreement on a Belgian-drafted compromise statement that would urge the warring sides to "show restraint and to refrain from any further acts of violence or force."