Lavrov Warns West on Georgia

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West on Monday against supporting Georgia's leadership and called for an arms embargo against Tbilisi until a different government is in place.

Lavrov's remarks are likely to anger the United States and Europe and enrage Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"If instead of choosing their national interests and the interests of the Georgian people, the United States and its allies choose the Saakashvili regime, this will be a mistake of truly historic proportions," he said.

"For a start it would be right to impose an embargo on weapons to this regime, until different authorities turn Georgia a normal state," Lavrov said in an address at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Hours later, a spokesman for Lavrov's ministry suggested that U.S. ships that have carried humanitarian aid to Georgia's Black Sea coast following last month's war could have also delivered weapons.

Without naming a specific country, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said there were "suppositions" that the cargo of military ships bringing aid to Georgia could have included "military components that will be used for the rearmament" of Georgia. He said such suspicions were behind Russia's call for an arms embargo.

Neither the U.S. State Department nor the Pentagon had immediate comment.

The Russian officials spoke as European Union leaders gathered for a summit to discuss relations with Russia.

Russia repelled a Georgian offensive against the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia and sent troops, tanks and bombers deep into undisputed Georgian territory, where some still remain.

Last week, Russia recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, as independent countries.

The United States and Europe have accused Russia of using disproportionate force and of violating a cease-fire that called for forces to be withdrawn to pre-conflict positions. They have denounced Russia's recognition of the separatist regions, saying Georgia's borders must remain intact.

Russia says it was provoked. Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed in South Ossetia before the war. And Moscow had given most of South Ossetia's residents Russian passports in recent years, enabling it to argue that it was defending its citizens when it responded to Georgia's Aug. 7 offensive in the separatist province.

Meanwhile, A New York-based human rights group said Monday that Georgia and Russia both dropped cluster bombs in the war. The weapons are widely denounced for spreading death among civilians.

"These indiscriminate attacks violate international humanitarian law," said Bonnie Docherty, arms division researcher at Human Rights Watch. She said the toll from cluster bombs in only four Georgia villages was 14 dead and dozens wounded.

Human Rights Watch claimed that Georgia's government has admitted using the bombs, while Russia denies it. The organization called on Russia to allow access to demining groups to enter South Ossetia to reduce the threat of more deaths from unexploded bomblets.

Nesterenko said Russia would welcome an EU-dominated international police presence and more military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in what is now a Russian-controlled zone around South Ossetia.

But he said Russia would want be part of the police force and that it would be a long time before Russia would consider reducing its military presence in and around South Ossetia and Abkhazia.