Russia warns Georgia over Abkhazia

Moscow threatens to deploy more troops if Tbilisi increases troop strength.

      There has been protests over Russian troop mobilisation in Abkhazia [AFP]

    A statement quoted by Interfax and RIA Novosti on Thursday said the current Russian troop level was 2,542 servicemen and that the maximum allowed under accords ending fighting between Georgia and Abkhaz rebels in the 1990s was 3,000.
     
    The latest deployment of reinforcements was announced last week.
     
    Diplomatic spat
     
    The total number of Russian troops in Abkhazia, whose separatist government is backed by Moscow, is not open to outside monitoring. On Sunday, a defence ministry spokesman had told AFP that the number was already 3,000.
      
    Russia accuses ex-Soviet Georgia of preparing a military operation to recover control over Abkhazia, which lies on the Black Sea just across the mountainous border from Russia.
      
    Georgia, run by Mikheil Saakashvili, the reformist pro-Western president, rejects the charge and accuses Russia of annexing the territory.
      
    Tensions over Abkhazia sparked expressions of concern from the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.
      
    On Tuesday the United States bluntly urged Russia to "cease from  further provocations" in Abkhazia and another Georgian rebel region, South Ossetia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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