After Georgia, Moscow issues nuclear warning to Poland

A senior Russian general has revived fears of a new Cold War by threatening Poland with a possible nuclear strike, as the President of Georgia bowed to the inevitable and signed a ceasefire the terms of which were dictated by Moscow.

General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, reflected the Kremlin's fury at an agreement reached on Thursday between the United States and Poland, which is to host part of a US missile defence shield that has been fiercely opposed by Moscow. It "cannot go unpunished", General Nogovitsyn said in Moscow yesterday.

"Poland, by deploying [the system], is exposing itself to a strike – 100 per cent," said the general. But he raised the stakes by coupling the warning with a reminder that Russia's military doctrine provided for the use of nuclear weapons in such a case, and that Poland was aware of this.

The developments came at the end of a day of intensified diplomacy, as the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, spent nearly five hours negotiating with the Georgian President in which she provided "clarifications" about the ceasefire agreement.

Speaking at a news conference outside the presidential palace, an emotional Mr Saakashvili appeared to blame Europe for the Russian invasion of his country, and accused the Russians of being "barbarians" who "despise everything new, everything modern, everything European, everything civilised".

Mr Saakashvili said European leaders who failed to stand up to Moscow shared the blame for the Georgian deaths. The tired-looking President said that months of Russian provocations against Georgia had elicited only "muted and quiet reactions" from European capitals. "Who invited the trouble here? Who invited the arrogance here? Who invited these innocent deaths here? Not only those who perpetrated it but those who allowed it to happen."

Ms Rice struck a much more measured tone, refusing to criticise Europe and making only tempered criticism of Russia. While insisting on an "immediate and orderly withdrawal of Russia's armed forces" in line with the French-brokered truce secured earlier this week, she did not offer any indication of the US response if such action was not forthcoming. She also said that Russia's membership in global clubs was under review.

Despite the ceasefire agreement, assuming it is honoured, there is still a giant gulf between the two sides over what happens next in the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A day after Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said the world could "forget" about Georgia's territorial integrity, Mr Saakashvili stressed that he was not prepared to negotiate the status of the two territories.

But the Georgian leader has suffered a bitter defeat: his army is destroyed, his country ruined, and the Ossetians and Abkhaz are buoyant in the knowledge that they can count on more Russian support than ever before in their desires to be free of Georgian rule.

In Washington, President George Bush kept up his verbal attacks on the Kremlin, accusing Russia of "bullying and intimidation" of an independent nation.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who held talks with the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, said the Russian retaliation to the attack by Georgian forces on 8 August against the South Ossetian capital was "disproportionate". Appearing with Mrs Merkel at a joint news conference in Sochi, the Russian President's summer residence, Mr Medvedev spoke out against the US-Polish deal, saying that " the deployment has the Russian Federation as its target". The Russians have rejected the US contention that the missile shield is designed to be used against possible strikes from states such as Iran.

However, Mr Medvedev gave a more sober assessment than General Nogovitsyn, stressing: "It is not dramatic."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific