Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

<p>In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili&rsquo;s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.</p> <p>In August 2008 the Government of Georgia launched an unprovoked full-scale military operation against South Ossetia in violation of international law. That devastating aggression by the Georgian army, supported by tanks and armoured vehicles, caused numerous casualties among civilians, left 10 Russian peacekeepers in the region dead and 40 wounded, destroyed the majority of residential blocks and infrastructure in South Ossetia capital, Tskhinval.</p> <p>In the light of a direct threat to the Russian citizens in South Ossetia, Russia had no choice but to launch an operation to stop the Georgian aggression and to enforce peace in conformity with the right of self-defence as stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter. Upon completing the operation, the Russian Armed Forces were pulled back from Georgia in October 2008 in accordance with the principles for a settlement of the conflict coordinated by the then President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy.</p> <p>The fact that it was Georgia who committed an act of aggression was later officially confirmed, most notably in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, established by the Council of the European Union and chaired by Ambassador Tagliavini. Attempts by Tbilisi with support of some of its Western partners to conceal this fact or lay the blame at Russia&rsquo;s door do nothing to address the root causes of the conflict, which evolved into the emergence of two independent states on the world&rsquo;s map. Russia has recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in accordance with international law.</p> <p>The main lesson drawn from the 2008 tragedy is that it was senseless and counterproductive to resort to force in an attempt to settle international disputes or conflicts. The use of violence can only have the most painful and sometimes irreversible consequences for the societies involved. Russia continues its efforts to promote dialogue and comprehensive negotiations between Georgia, on the one hand, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on the other hand, within the framework of the Geneva International Discussions. The first step on the path to reconciliation could be the signing of non-use of force agreements.</p> <p>Alexander Yakovenko,</p> <p>Ambassador</p>