Medvedev asks Russian troops to be on high alert in South Ossetia

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Moscow, Aug 15 (UNI) Addressing a meeting of Russian military officers who participated in the fighting in South Ossetia, President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway region must remain on high alert as a deterrent to possible attacks by Georgia.

Stressing that the situation in South Ossetia continued to be very difficult, Medvedev said last night that Russia's current goal was to maintain the ceasefire and ensure the withdrawal of Georgian troops.

''In such conditions, we have to keep our peacekeeping contingent in constant readiness. This will be a clear constraining factor for the Georgian side and a necessary condition for overcoming the future humanitarian catastrophe,'' he said.

Medvedev also thanked the officers for high-quality and effective work during the operation in the region.

''The protection of the Russian people is the direct duty of the state,'' he said, adding ''The peacekeeping forces were acting precisely and in accordance with the goals we set. Some of the peacekeepers who were in the very heart of the action were killed.'' He expressed his condolences to the relatives of those who were killed and promised the government will support them in every way possible.

''You took part in a noble operation, saving helpless people from a treacherous attack,'' he said, pointing out destroying Russian peacekeepers was one of Georgia's aims.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Russia's Armed Forces' General Staff, Col Gen Anatoly told reporters the army was concerned by the nature of the humanitarian supplies the United States was airlifting to Georgia, questioning if they were really humanitarian aid.

The US sent two C-17 military planes to Georgia late Wednesday and early yesterday as part of a Pentagon humanitarian mission.


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