The Russian veto Monday evening came after a standoff with the West over whether any extension or new mandate for the mission should use language indicating that Abkhazia -- one of two breakaway territories in Georgia -- is now independent, as Russia claims.
The issue has again pitted Russia against the U.S. over Georgia, at a time when the new U.S. administration has said it wants to "reset" relations with Moscow. President Barack Obama is due to visit Moscow early next month.
Not much of a reset, but that's to be expected, of course. The UN claims that the monitors' departure will leave Georgia less secure, although there are claims that the OSCE mission had reports of an impending Georgian offensive last year and did nothing.
Meanwhile, Saakashvili is billing this as a success, and continues accusations that Russia is still trying to undermine Georgia:
He said that Russia’s goal “is to collapse the Georgian state.”
“But we should also understand that after such consolidated position of our allies in the UN, everybody saw that Georgia cannot be exchanged for anything; Russia attempted to trade-off [Georgian issues] with a resolution on North Korea and Iran. Russia was ready to pay any price in exchange for Security Council members giving up Georgia. But there was not even a slight hesitation on the side [of the Security Council members],” Saakashvili said.
“Yesterday it was the first serious test on non-recognition of occupation,” he continued. “I think that the international community, together with us, has clearly expressed its position and gave a precise answer to this major question [of Georgia’s territorial integrity].”