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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Soviet States Split on Kosovo

TBILISI, Georgia -- President Eduard Shevardnadze said Monday that the leaders of most ex-Soviet republics have refused to join Russia in its strong condemnation of NATO raids against Yugoslavia.

Twelve former Soviet republics held a summit in Moscow on Friday, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin said the leaders spoke against the use of force against Yugoslavia.

However, the group didn't issue any statement on the subject, and Shevardnadze said Monday the leaders couldn't do that because of wide differences of opinion.

"Every nation had its own position on the subject,'' Shevardnadze said at a news conference Monday in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

He refrained from criticizing NATO, and blamed the Yugoslav authorities for waging a "genocide'' against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. He said that Georgia has also suffered from "ethnic cleansing'' by rebels.

Separatists in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia drove about 300,000 ethnic Georgians out of the region after defeating Georgian government troops in a 1992-93 war.

"The same thing is happening in Kosovo,'' Shevardnadze said at a news conference. "They persecute those people just because they are Albanians.''

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Abkhazia since 1994, but the region has remained restive and Georgia has accused the Russian troops of backing the separatists - a charge Moscow denies.

Shevardnadze said that Georgia this month would quit the Russian-led collective security pact of the former Soviet republics because it has failed to help settle the Abkhazian conflict.

Unlike Russia, which has suspended all links with NATO over its raids against Yugoslavia, Georgia wants to bolster its ties with the alliance.

Georgia's Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili spoke of closer cooperation with NATO, and said that Shevardnadze would lead a Georgian delegation to attend the alliance's summit in Washington later this month marking its 50th anniversary, Interfax reported.

Russia's ambassador to Azerbaijan on Monday slammed the former Soviet republic for agreeing to send a platoon to Kosovo under NATO's Partnership for Peace program.