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TSKHINVAL, August 8 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is convinced that the decision to launch an operation to rebuff Georgia’s aggression against Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008 was just and timely.
“All the then decisions were taken right when they were needed,” Medvedev, who is currently on a visit to South Ossetia, told journalists on Wednesday. “[As the then Russian president] I proceeded from the fact that these decisions concerned a then foreign state, which before August 26 we recognized as Georgia.”
“Yes, we had special relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but still at that time Georgia’s territorial integrity was at stake although we understood that it was practically impossible to keep it,” Medvedev noted. “And these decisions came in response to direct aggression against Russian citizens and Russian peacekeepers.”
“It happened overnight to August 8,” he recalled.
“I took a decision two and a half hours after the Georgian army launched a combat operation. Not earlier, because it was wrong since it was a decision to use Russian armed forces on a foreign territory, I stress, on foreign territory. But not later either,” he emphasized.
In his words, the decision to deliver a missile strike was taken at 04:00 a.m. on August 8.
“Those who say otherwise either do not know or deliberately distort the truth,” Medvedev noted. “I have already commented on my consultations with colleagues, with the minister of defence and others. These consultations may be summarized as follows: such decision are within the competence of only one person, and I was the one, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the President of the country.”
According to Medvedev, he got in touch with Vladimir Putin, the then prime minister, who was in Beijing at that time.
“But as a matter of fact, it does not matter who got in contact with whom, the matter is that it was vital to take such decisions,” Medvedev said. “I am confident that in that situation my decisions to use force in response were taken exactly when they should be taken.”
“Otherwise, we would not have solved the tasks we were facing,” he went on. “But we did solve these tasks, with minimum casualties. If these decisions were taken later the situation would have been utterly different.”
Commenting on a recent documentary dedicated to the 2008 Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, he said he saw “nothing extraordinary, except several comments from the former chief of the General Staff [Yuri Baluyevsky], who by the time of these developments had been appointed from his post to the Russian Security Council.” “He had no comments then, but after he quitted he apparently wanted to speak up,” Medvedev noted.
The Russian prime minister reminded that Georgia had been in a state of war for twenty years. “It was a creeping but very severe civil war between separate parts of the state. Nothing was chaining for years,” he said. “It was a permanent field of tension, and we felt it. That is why we tried to help settle this conflict. Russia took part in the three-party Russian-Ossetian-Georgian commission and had its peacekeepers there.”
“But it never troubled Saakashvili when he took a decision to deliver a blow. It is sad but this way he cut significant pieces off his country and tore his homeland apart,” Medvedev added.