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Russia Demands UN Security Council Meeting on Georgia


Russia has asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the arrest of five Russian army officers in Georgia.

Russia asked for the emergency session Thursday, after Georgia arrested the five Russian officers on charges of spying. Closed consultations were immediately scheduled for later in the day.

Russia earlier recalled its ambassador from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and ordered a partial evacuation of Russian personnel and their families.

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Konstantin Dolgov, called the arrests "very troubling news." He told VOA, Moscow wants the Council to take up the matter as a threat to regional peace and security.

"Very unfortunate, destabilizing the region, on the part of Tbilisi," he said. "So, we think that it's high time for the Security Council to get seized of the matter."

Russian diplomats say the request for an urgent Council meeting came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov, on a trip to Russia's far east, was quoted as calling the spying charges "absurd." He demanded the officers' immediate release.

Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have been increasingly tense since Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in the wake of the country's peaceful "Rose revolution" in 2003. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly last Friday, Saakashvili accused Russia of what he termed a "gangster occupation" of the disputed Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Russian officers were detained Wednesday, after Georgian police and guards surrounded the regional headquarters of Russian troops in Tbilisi. Reports say 12 Georgians suspected of involvement were also detained.

Russia's defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, was quoted Thursday as calling the arrests "an outrage."

Georgia has long accused Russia of backing separatist forces in the two breakaway regions. Russia deployed peacekeepers to both areas, after they declared independence from Tbilisi in the early 1990s.

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