The other half of the diplomatic pincer movement took place in Sochi, as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a pre-planned trip there to try to lean on the Russian president to withdraw his troops.
The talks were short. Afterwards it appeared there had been no meeting of minds. Russia said it was too late to turn the clock back.
“Nobody rejects the principle of territorial integrity as one of the fundamental principles of international law,” said Dmitri Medvedev. “But if we look at this concrete situation we see it is very complex. Unfortunately, after what has happened, the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could hardly live together in one state with the Georgians.”
Medvedev had tried to show Merkel images of Georgian atrocities. She said she did not need to see them. He replied that he did not need to “prove anything”.
Merkel said: “I made it clear that, first of all, it is always very sad if there are victims and in this case there are so many victims. Secondly, I said that even if I take the Russian version of events into account, I considered some of the Russian actions not to be reasonable, in particular the presence of the Russian troops in the core regions of Georgia.”
Within a couple of hours of the talks Russia decorated 23 soldiers involved in the fighting. Two have been declared “Heroes of the Russian Federation”.