Russia defends breakaway regions

Aug. 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Russia says the United Nations cannot understand the conflicts in two breakaway regions of Georgia if it continues to exclude their representatives.

"Abkhazia and South Ossetia have much stronger grounds for independence than Kosovo," Vitaly Churkin, Russia's envoy told the U.N. Security Council Thursday.

By excluding representatives from the two regions, it is "impossible to form an objective picture of what happened," Churkin said, referring to Russia's military incursion into Georgia this month and its subsequent decision to recognize the breakaway regions as independent, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

Churkin told the council that Russia's actions were to stop Georgian aggression against South Ossetia, Itar-Tass reported.

"The only thing they did not expect was that Russia would react so forcefully," Churkin said.

More than 26,000 refugees have returned to South Ossetia since the fighting ended but several thousand refugees remain with relatives in North Ossetia, Interfax reported.

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