Sun, August 10, 2008
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Putin says Russia's actions in South Ossetia well-founded

2008-08-09 21:50:12 GMT2008-08-10 05:50:12 (Beijing Time) xinhuanet

MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia's actions in South Ossetia are absolutely justified from the legal point of view, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

"From the legal point of view our actions are absolutely justified and legitimate," the Interfax news agency quoted Putin as saying at a meeting in Vladikavkaz, regional capital of south Russia's North Ossetia. He flew to Vladikavkaz from the Beijing Olympics.

"In line with effective international agreements, including the 1992 agreement, Russia not only performs peacekeeping functions but in case of violation of the ceasefire agreement by one side is obliged to protect the other, which we did in this case with regard to South Ossetia," Putin said.

According to the prime minister, 34,000 refugees crossed from South Ossetia to Russia from Aug. 2-9. He said destruction was massive in the breakaway region, describing the situation as "the humanitarian catastrophe."

Headquarters had been set up "in order to solve all problems in the humanitarian field" related to the inflow of refugees to Russia, Putin said, adding that its branch will operate in Vladikavkaz.

Putin flew to North Ossetia from the Beijing Olympics to discuss assistance for South Ossetia after the outbreak of hostilities in the breakaway region.

Russia has sent humanitarian aid to the region, including transport planes containing medical specialists, a mobile field hospital and 16 tons of medical supplies as well as essential foodstuffs for South Ossetian refugees.

Georgia launched an offensive against South Ossetia early Friday and South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, suffered major destruction in the onslaught. Russia said at least 12 of its peacekeepers, along with 2,000 South Ossetian civilians, had lost their lives.

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