Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has issued a stern warning to NATO on the 10th anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war that Tbilisi’s joining the alliance could lead to a “horrible” new conflict, RFE/RL reports.
Medvedev said in an interview with the Kommersant FM radio station on August 6 that NATO’s plans to eventually offer membership to Georgia were “absolutely irresponsible” and a “threat to peace.”
Last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated support for Georgia’s membership at a meeting in Brussels, but did not mention when that might happen.
During the night of August 7-8, 2008, Tbilisi sent in troops to try to retake control of its breakaway region of South Ossetia from Russia-backed separatists.
Additional Russian forces entered the territory from the adjacent Russian region of North Ossetia to back up the separatists and Russian troops that already were in Georgia’s South Ossetia.
The Georgian forces were defeated in days. A peace treaty was finally hammered out by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
By the end of the conflict on August 12, several hundred people had died and Moscow subsequently recognized South Ossetia and Georgia’s other breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states and has stationed military forces there ever since.
Before the war, Russian officials had made clear that they vehemently opposed Georgia’s efforts to achieve NATO membership under Saakashvili, and relations between the two countries were badly strained over issues including Moscow’s support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On August 7, the European Union issued a statement praising the 10th anniversary of the truce it brokered between Georgia and Russia to end the war and calling the continuing Russian military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a “violation of international law” and the truce.
“The European Union reiterates its firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders,” the statement said.