US hampers Russian peace efforts in South Ossetia: Putin

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Moscow, Aug 11 (UNI) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today accused the US of undermining its attempt to restore peace in the South Ossetian conflict zone.

''It is a pity that some of our partners, instead of helping, are trying to get in the way,'' Mr Putin said at a meeting of government ministers.

He said a decision by the US military to fly 900 Georgian soldiers from Iraq back to Georgia showed US was 'trying to get in the way.' He added Washington was using ''its military transport aircraft to relocate Georgia's military contingent from Iraq virtually into the conflict zone.'' Mr Putin also voiced his frustration at the inability of Russia's Western partners to adequately assess the situation in South Ossetia.

''I am surprised by their skills at seeing black as white, of portraying aggressors as victims and of blaming the real victims for the consequences of the conflict,'' he said, accusing the West of double standards when it comes to judging war crimes.

''As we all know, Saddam Hussein was hanged for burning down several Shiite villages. But now suddenly the situation is different. The Georgian leaders who in a matter of hours wiped out ten Ossetian villages, ran over children and the elderly with tanks, burned civilians alive, those people have to be protected,'' he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a meeting with the Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia had accomplished a significant part of its mission to restore peace to the Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

''A major part of the operation to force the Georgian side and the Georgian authorities to peace in South Ossetia has been completed,'' Mr Medvedev said, adding a reinforced peacekeeping contingent was now fully in control of the region's capital Tskhinvali.

''Tskhinvali is under the control of a strengthened Russian peacekeeping contingent,'' he said.

Deputy Head of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsin told mediapersons today that Russia was trying to contain the conflict and prevent it from spilling over into Georgia's other breakaway republic, Abkhazia, or into Russian territory.

In another development, the Director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexandr Bortnikov said nine Georgian spies had been detained who were planning terrorist acts in Russia.


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