The UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the crisis in Georgia, its first meeting since Russia recognized the independence of the two breakaway provinces at the heart of the conflict.
Georgians said the UN needed to act to ensure peace in the Caucasus region
Georgia's foreign minister called on the UN Security Council to take action against Russia, alleging it had breached international security by its actions in her country.
But it remained unclear what steps the Security Council could take against Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 28. Russia, as one of five permanent members of the council along with Britain, China, France and the United States, holds a veto over any of the council's resolutions.
Demands for diplomatic action have grown louder since Moscow formally recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Tuesday.
European nations will meet on Monday in an extraordinary summit where sanctions against Russia will be discussed.
Despite not being supported by all of the EU's 27 members, the subject of sanctions will be discussed, according to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, along with the drafting of "a strong statement reflecting (Europe's) determination not to accept" the situation in Georgia.
Georgian foreign minister calls for UN action
At a special meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Georgian Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili said the UN Security Council should be act part of the UN charter calling for the use of military and non-military sanctions to restore peace and security.
"It is not only a threat to international security, but a breach of it," Tkeshelashvili said, referring to Russia's military involvement in Georgia and its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia is accused of supporting ethnic cleansing
"The territory previously known in Soviet times as South Ossetia is completely cleansed of remnants of the Georgian population," she said. In the buffer zone around the breakaway province, ethnic cleansing was ongoing, she added.
The minister also alleged that Russian forces had conducted ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia.
Russian forces had acted together with ethnic Ossetian, Cossack, and Chechen militias in killing young men, raping and driving away women, as well as destroying villages and fields, Tkeshelashvili said.
Russian representative OSCE Anvar Azimov told reporters after the meeting that there was "no evidence of ethnic cleansing" of Georgians in South Ossetia.
"In my opinion, the main ethnic cleansing was evident when Georgia made an aggression against South Ossetia," Azimov told reporters after the meeting.
Stressing the process of independence for the two Georgian regions was "irreversible," Azimov said it was now up to South Ossetian authorities to deal with such allegations.
Asked when Russian forces would leave areas around South Ossetia, Azimov said that "sooner or later we will leave these territories."
Indecision over increased OSCE observer mission
Georgia's Tkeshelashvili supports the OSCE mission
In its meeting, the Permanent Council of the OSCE, the organization's decision-making body, did not formally discuss the outstanding modalities of sending up to 100 additional observers to Georgia, a diplomat said.
Moscow's recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was "an additional factor that needs to be taken into account" in finding agreement on the observer mission, OSCE spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
The 56 OSCE members still have to agree on where in Georgia the officers will be deployed for observing the cease-fire between Russian and Georgian forces, as Moscow has so far refused to allow them in South Ossetia.
It was up to South Ossetia to allow in OSCE monitors, the Russian representative said, adding that according to the Russian military, "for security reasons it is not the time" to do so.
Georgia's foreign minister reiterated Tbilisi's position that any geographic limitation for monitors "cannot be tolerated."
Baltic leaders to meet on Georgia
Kaczynski hopes for a common stance on Georgia
In other diplomatic developments Poland's President Lech Kaczynski is slated to meet with heads of three Baltic States to work out a common stance on Georgia for the upcoming EU summit, his chancellery told Radio ZET on Thursday.
"There's an expectation from the Baltic states that the president in Brussels will present a common stance of the three Baltic States and Poland," said Piotr Kownacki, vice-chief of the president's chancellery.