Tuesday, 6 May 2008

drums of war in the caucasus

Russia-Georgia ‘close to war’, Tbilisi to blame - Russian NATO envoy


06/ 05/ 2008

BRUSSELS, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia is close to an outbreak of hostilities with Russia, but Tbilisi has only itself to blame for the current state of affairs, the Russian envoy to NATO said on Tuesday.
Dmitry Rogozin was commenting on a statement made at the European Parliament in Brussels earlier on Tuesday by Georgian Reintegration Minister Timur Yakobashvili that Georgia was « very close » to a war with Russia.
Rogozin said: « Georgia is really extremely close to a war, but Georgia is itself to blame for this. »
He also added that Tbilisi was implementing a plan approved by foreign « sponsors » designed at pinning the blame for the current tensions in Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Russia.
He went on to say that he believed that Georgia was planning to seize Abkhazia with special forces trained by NATO instructors, adding that this could result in « serious bloodshed. »
Russia was trying to prevent this ‘bloodshed,’ he said.
Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.
On April 16, Russia’s outgoing President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to draw up measures to support both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The move infuriated Georgia, which accused Russia of trying to annex the breakaway regions. Later, Tbilisi accused Russia of downing a reconnaissance drone - a claim Russia has flatly denied.
Russia, which has administered a peacekeeping contingent in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the 1990s, dispatched additional troops to Abkhazia recently to deter what it calls a planned Georgian military offensive. Tbilisi accuses Russian troops of siding with separatists.

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