Security Bloc Slams Georgian Attack

APFrom right, Medvedev and the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Belarus attending a Kremlin summit Friday.
Russia secured measured backing Friday from six other former Soviet nations for its war in Georgia.

Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization stopped short, however, of following Russia's example in recognizing the independence of Georgia's two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

President Dmitry Medvedev said he and other leaders of nations that are members of the security pact signed a declaration Friday condemning Georgia's attack aimed at regaining control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia.

The declaration said members of the group are "deeply concerned about an attempt by Georgia to solve the conflict in South Ossetia by force, which has led to numerous casualties among civilian population and peacekeepers and entailed grave humanitarian consequences."

The declaration also supported an "active role of Russia in helping peace and security in the region" and spoke about the need to "ensure firm security for South Ossetia and Abkhazia."

The statement represented a victory for the Kremlin, which has struggled to expand its base of support.

Medvedev put a positive gloss on the failure of the alliance members to recognize the independence of the two regions.

"As for the independence issue, it is quite natural that all of our Collective Security Treaty Organization partners will separately formulate their position on this matter ... naturally, being guided by their national interests while doing so," Medvedev said at a news conference. "Russia believes this is absolutely right."

The Russian-led security group links Russia with Armenia, Belarus and four Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The support from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which have been courted by the West, is particularly important for Russia.

Only a few countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, had previously backed Russia's action, and only Nicaragua has followed Russia's lead in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

A week earlier, Russia failed to win full backing of its actions in Georgia from another friendly alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, grouping Russia, China and the four Central Asian republics.

Also at the news conference Friday, Medvedev sternly warned against providing more assistance to Georgia, in an apparent reference to a $1 billion aid package to Tbilisi announced by Washington earlier in the week.

"We don't want Georgia, which acted as the aggressor, to continue to arm itself in an uncontrolled way and with unknown aims and completely unclear consequences," he said.

"It seems to me this is a lesson for the entire world community, including for those who make decisions to provide Georgia with extra financing and technical military cooperation," Medvedev said without naming any country.

(AP, Reuters)