German military attaché: Russians acted appropriately

24th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Russians had no choice, the official says in internal Foreign Ministry documents.

Berlin -- The German military attaché in Moscow described the Russian military response in Georgia as "appropriate" in an internal document, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"The extent of the use of military force by the Russian side appears – as 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 in an internal memo to the German Foreign Ministry.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

According to the newspaper report, the general said about 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.

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

A contrast

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

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

Germany has demanded 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.

At the summit, alliance members 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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