- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

UPDATED:

An official communique released by the Russian embassy two hours after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s briefing reported that the Russian Army had sunk all ships in the harbor of the Port City of Poti.

Less than a day after Russia and Georgia agreed to a cease-fire, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday said that Russians tanks are still advancing on the city of Gori and had effectively established an economic blockade on Tbilisi, the capital.

During a telephone briefing with reporters, Mr. Saakashvili said Russian troops were burning villages and taking Georgians hostages in the region of South Ossetia

He cited but did not elaborate on reports of internment camps and summary executions of ethnic Georgians by Russian troops.

“Russian troops are still advancing on Gori,” Mr. Saakashvili said, adding that the troops were “rampaging the city,” blowing up buildings and looting.

Gori is a major city located south of South Ossetia on the country’s major east-west highway. In recent days, Georgian officials have said the Russians control the city and the highway.

Mr. Saakashvili said Russian troops were now blocking access along the road some 50 kilometers away from Tbilisi.

“They are blocking the capital’s bloodline,” he said. “The capital is under some sort of economic blockade.”

He called for airlifts of food, medicine and shelter.

“This has exceeded my worst expectations and fears,” he said.

Meanwhile, a communique released by Georgian authorities early Wednesday said Russian forces are burning the villages of Tkviavi, Karaleti, Bebuti, Tamarasheni, Variani in the South Ossetia.

He said western nations had failed to protect Georgia and that NATO’s failure to move forward on his country’s bid for alliance membership had given Russians a green-light to attack.

Mr. Saakashvili said he has been warning major world powers for a year about Moscow’s intentions but was ignored.

“Americans and western countries have lots of leverage,” he said. “But American power and prestige in this region is at stake.”

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