Despite Movement, Russia Falls Short of Cease-Fire Mandates
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2008 Though “significant Russian movements” have taken place in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Russia still is not living up to the terms of the cease-fire agreement, a senior Defense Department official said here today.
“There is still a sizeable Russian presence in Georgia. … They’ve established some self-declared security zones, observation posts and checkpoints and the like,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a meeting with reporters. “All are a reflection that they are not living up to the agreement.”
The mission of the U.S. military in the country now is to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Georgia, Whitman said, with the U.S. training mission to the Caucasus republic in abeyance for the time being.
The Navy’s USS McFaul is still off-loading humanitarian supplies at the Georgian port of Batumi, and five more airlift missions flew into the country yesterday. The Coast Guard Cutter Dallas is in the Black Sea, and is approaching Georgia with a cargo hold full of humanitarian supplies. Officials expect the ship to dock in the next 24 hours.
The total number of humanitarian flights in to Georgia is now at 53. With the latest C-17 Globemaster III delivery, the Georgians have received more than 300,000 humanitarian daily rations. Other supplies include bedding, sleeping bags, tents, medical supplies and other humanitarian items.
The United States has made it “very clear to the Russians what the purpose of the U.S. military is [in Georgia], and we are not anticipating any problems with our ability to deliver humanitarian assistance,” Whitman said.
Whitman said he expects that some U.S. military personnel will be monitors for the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe as the group sets up its oversight of humanitarian operations. OSCE officials said that the group will draw about 100 servicemembers from its 55 member nations for the mission.