"It's very alarming that as the first anniversary of the Russian aggression against Georgia comes close, Russia and its puppets are deliberately inciting tensions and behave defiantly," the ministry said in a statement.

'Further provocations'

Tensions between Russia and Georgia have escalated in recent days, with Moscow accusing Georgian forces of firing mortars into South Ossetia on Saturday - a charge the former Soviet state denies.

The Russian defence ministry also warned Georgia that it "reserves the right to use all available forces and means to protect the citizens of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen" in case of further "provocations".

There are fears skirmishes could spill into larger scale violence as tensions over the region continue.

South Ossetia broke away from the rest of Georgia in the early 1990s, receiving Russian backing.

Georgia, which insists the region remains an integral part of its territory, launched an offensive last August to retake control.

Russia fought back with a large-scale military operation into Georgia.

Russia, along with Nicaragua, has since recognised South Ossetia as independent, and has stationed thousands of troops in there and in Abkhazia, another breakaway state.

EU monitors are the only remaining international ones in Georgia, but are blocked from traveling inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia.