Russia has called for more international observers to be sent to Georgia, two days before a European Union summit Tbilisi hopes will punish Moscow with sanctions.
VIDEO: Russia calls for Georgia observers
The appeal for stronger European monitoring in Georgia came as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged EU leaders to show “common sense” at the summit on Monday and ignore calls for sanctions against Russia.
Leaders of the 27-nation EU are to agree on a response to Russia's military surge into Georgia and decision to recognise the independence of two secessionist regions.
Georgia called for sanctions on Russian leaders after breaking off diplomatic relations with Moscow to protest the decision to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
But in an apparent conciliatory gesture, President Dmitry Medvedev told British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a phone conversation Russia wants more OSCE observers to be sent to Georgia, a Kremlin statement said.
The West sees the presence of monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as critical to ensure the success of the French-brokered ceasefire that ended five days of fighting between Georgian and Russian forces.
The 56-nation OSCE decided this month to send up to 100 observers to Georgia. About 20 observers are on the ground now.
Russia “calls for the dispatch of additional OSCE observers to the security zone and setting up an impartial monitoring of the acts of the Georgian government,” said the Kremlin statement.
Georgia blamed for crisis
The German weekly Der Spiegel separately reported that OSCE observers were blaming Georgia — whose bid to join NATO is championed by the United States — for triggering the crisis in a series of unofficial reports presented to the German government.
OSCE monitors said Georgia had made elaborate preparations for the offensive in South Ossetia on August 7.
Tbilisi has claimed that they were provoked by the Russian side.
Russian troops entered Georgia on August 8 to push back Georgian troops attempting to restore control over South Ossetia.
Russia halted a five-day offensive into Georgia but has failed to withdraw all its troops, saying they are on a peacekeeping mission.
Tbilisi has labelled them an occupation force.
Georgian reintegration minister Temur Yakobashvili called for Russian leaders to be punished with targeted sanctions.
“There is no point in isolating Russia. But we expect certain sanctions, which won't be against the people, but against the political elite,” he told AFP in Tbilisi.
The minister did not specify what the sanctions against Russian leaders could involve, although such measures often include travel bans or the freezing of overseas bank accounts.
Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he supported calls for stripping Moscow of the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“Organising a celebration of peace and sport in an area near where there was a massacre and a war of aggression seems to me to be a strange idea,” Schwarzenberg told the Austrian Die Presse newspaper.