German Diplomat: Russian Response to Georgia Appropriate | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.08.2008
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German Diplomat: Russian Response to Georgia Appropriate

The German military attache in Moscow described the Russian military response in Georgia as "appropriate" in an internal document, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Russian tanks in Georgia

The West has so far called Russia's intervention disproportionate

"The extent of the use of military force by the Russian side appears -- seen from here and despite reports to the contrary from Georgia and the picture conveyed by the media -- not inappropriately high," Brigadier General Heinz G Wagner wrote on Aug. 11.

The German Foreign Ministry said it did not comment on internal documents.

According to the FAZ report, the general said some three days after the outbreak of hostilities that Russia had no choice but to react to the Georgian military action in South Ossetia.

The Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in the breakaway Georgian region "were not in a position, given their weapons and equipment, to defend themselves effectively or even to resist," the general wrote.

Protecting forces?

Russia had been compelled to ensure that the land forces of its 58th Army were able to move without being threatened by the Georgian Air Force, and for this reason Georgian planes had been prevented from intervening, Wagner wrote.

The Russians had moved to strengthen their peacekeepers, deployed under a mandate from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to protect Russian citizens and to restore the status quo ante, the attache said.

"The deployment of air power -- despite the regrettable civilian casualties -- can be seen as militarily appropriate to the operation," Wagner wrote, according to the FAZ report.

Wagner's report contrasted with the official German government position.

Merkel thinks differently

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Tbilisi on Aug.17 to offer support to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and call for Russia to adhere to the ceasefire agreement signed the previous day by

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Germany demands that Russia withdraw all its troops from Georgia's core territory and has criticized the Russian for not sticking to their side of the bargain.

Merkel also made clear that Germany backed ultimate NATO membership for Georgia.

"Georgia will become a member if it wants to," she said.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April, Germany was one of the countries expressing caution on Georgian membership of the Western military alliance.

The summit decided that Georgia and Ukraine, another former republic of the defunct Soviet Union, should not receive Membership Action Plans (MAPs) -- the precursor to full membership. NATO foreign ministers are to take up the issue at a meeting in December.

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