Dmitry Medvedev

Ten years after the war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has warned of the consequences of Georgia joining NATO, the Western defence alliance.

“That could trigger a terrible conflict. [It is] completely incomprehensible, who would want such a thing,” Medvedev said in a Russian radio interview broadcast on Monday.

Medvedev was president during the night of Aug. 7 Aug. 8, 2008, when Tbilisi tried to drive Russian troops out of the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia.

The former Soviet republic said the troops were invaders, while Moscow said they were there to protect the province’s ethnic Russian majority.

The Georgian forces were defeated within days. The EU negotiated a truce. By the time the conflict ended on Aug.12, several hundred people had been killed.

The war could have been avoided, Medvedev told Kommersant FM. “It was not inevitable,” he said.

Tiny Georgia has been trying for years to join the EU and NATO as a means of protection from Russian aggression.

In addition to South Ossetia, the region of Abkhazia also received Russian support to break from Tbilisi; Moscow recognises both regions as independent and has been pressuring its allies to do the same.

NATO again voiced support for Georgia’s membership in the alliance at a meeting in Brussels in mid July, without naming a date.

Thousands of Georgian refugees from South Ossetia have settled in new villages near the truce line but they have few prospects for work there.

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