Thu, May 01, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Georgia pans Russia troop move ahead of NATO talks


Georgia yesterday accused Russia of military aggression over its plans to send more peacekeepers to two Georgian rebel regions, as the tensions were set to top the agenda of NATO-Russia talks.

“It’s hard to believe that this is being done for the purposes of peacekeeping. It’s rather the beginning of full scale military aggression,” Georgia’s top diplomat, David Bakradze, told reporters.

Bakradze said Russia had been strengthening “de facto control on the ground” in Abkhazia in the last three months.

Russia on Tuesday accused Georgia of planning to invade the breakaway republic of Abkhazia and said it was sending more troops to the region.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Georgia had amassed more than 1,500 troops in the mountainous Upper Kodori Valley — a small but strategic enclave inside the separatist territory but controlled by Georgian forces. It was “possible to conclude that Georgia is preparing a base for a military operation against Abkhazia,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Russia was responding by sending more peacekeeping troops to prevent a Georgian attack, it said.

Bakradze, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s new “special representative,” said the Russian peacekeeping announcement only fueled problems.

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