Medvedev - why Russia had to recognise rebel regions
LONDON (Reuters) - Moscow had no option but to recognise Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote in Wednesday's Financial Times.
The United States, NATO and European powers have strongly condemned Russia's recognition of the regions, after it sent tanks and troops into Georgia to push back the forces of the Caucasus state.
"It was not a step taken lightly, or without full consideration of the consequences," Medvedev wrote in the London-based newspaper.
He said Russia had tried hard to prevent conflict in Georgia but the West had helped provoke it by its handling of Kosovo.
"Ignoring Russia's warnings, western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo's illegal declaration of independence from Serbia," Medvedev wrote.
"We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them.
"In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others."
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili bore the blame for the conflict, Medvedev wrote.
"Only a madman could have taken such a gamble. Did he believe Russia would stand idly by as he launched an all-out assault on the sleeping city of Tskhinvali (in South Ossetia), murdering hundreds of peaceful civilians, most of them Russian citizens?"
He added: "Russia had no option but to crush the attack to save lives. This was not a war of our choice. We have no designs on Georgian territory."
Medvedev said that after South Ossetia and Abkhazia appealed for Russian recognition of their independence, "a heavy decision weighed on my shoulders".
"I sincerely hope that the Georgian people, to whom we feel historic friendship and sympathy, will one day have leaders they deserve, who care about their country and who develop mutually respectful relations with all the peoples in the Caucasus.
"Russia is ready to support the achievement of such a goal," he wrote.
(Writing by Andrew Roche)
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