Russia Faces Heat At U.N. For Georgia

A column of Russian armored vehicles moving in the direction of Russia's North Ossetia, are seen on the outskirts of Tskhinvali, Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008. Russian forces left parts of Georgia on Friday as part of a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel
Georgia and its backers in the U.N. Security Council on Thursday decried Russia's recognition of the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia responded by accusing its critics of bias and hypocrisy in an emergency meeting that turned bitter and personal.

The U.S., Britain and Georgia accused Russia of attempting to redraw internationally recognized borders through military force by moving troops into Georgia and then recognizing Georgia's separatist regions on Tuesday.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the charges were undercut by the international recognition of Kosovo's independence from Serbia this year by Washington and many European countries, and by their own use of force against opponents, in particular by the U.S. in Iraq.

"Weapons of mass destruction: Have you found them in Iraq yet or are you still looking for them?" Churkin asked U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff in remarks that also touched on centuries of Caucasus and Soviet history.

Wolff responded: "I'm not a psychologist, and I don't know what brought on the free association that we heard from ambassador Churkin."

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested in a broadcast interview Thursday that the United States pushed Georgia toward war and said he suspects a connection to the American presidential campaign, the network said.

Russian news agencies said Putin told CNN that the U.S. seemingly encouraged Georgia's leadership to use force to resolve its dispute with separatist South Ossetia.

China, a frequent ally of Russia in the council, did not address the U.N. meeting, which consisted almost entirely of criticism of Russia. China earlier in the day issued a statement along with several Central Asian nations denouncing the use of force and calling for the respect of every country's territorial integrity, a blow to Russia's search for international backing.

Vietnam and Libya also remained silent, highlighting Russia's isolation in the council.

The Georgian ambassador to the U.N., Irakli Alasania, described Russia as being "in breach of fundamental norms and principles of international law and sovereignty" and said Moscow's unilateral recognition of the breakaway regions would have repercussions for separatist movements throughout the Caucasus.

"Russian is moving forward, altering the post-(Soviet) 1991 borders with unpredictable results," he said. "There is no place in today's world for attempts to redraw boundaries of our international order ... Unless confronted by the international community, Russian policies will eventually force another conflict elsewhere."

France strongly condemned the Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Italy said the decision made the alarming conflict in Georgia even more dangerous.

British Ambassador John Sawers said Russia was making "a unilateral attempt to redraw the borders of a neighboring country through the use of force."

At earlier, closed consultations, council members rebuffed Russia's attempts to involve South Ossetian and Abkhazian representatives in the discussions, although Churkin told reporters that he was optimistic that Moscow's efforts will succeed.