Abkhazia troop arrests anger Russia

Moscow condemns "acts of provocation" after Georgia detains four peacekeepers.

    Russian soldiers have been deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the 1990s [File: EPA]
    "They [the Russian soldiers] didn't present any legal documents related to the weapons, and the Georgian side wasn't informed about this," Eka Zguladze, Georgia's deputy interior minister, said.

    Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday that its soldiers were carrying the necessary documents and their detention was unlawful. It demanded the return of seized items, including ammunition.

    Peacekeeping troops

    Russia has had peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia since the end of a war in the 1990s that left thousands of people dead and forced tens of  thousands from their homes.

    Moscow recently sent additional forces to the two regions, a move Saakashvili denounced as "aggression".

    "A major policy of annexation is ongoing. Russia is escalating"


    Eka Tkeshelashvili, Georgia's foreign minister

    Georgia has said that it suspects Russia of using peacekeeping troops as a cover to bring artillery and other heavy weapons into Abkhazia, while says that Tbilisi is preparing an assault to reclaim the region.

    The breakaway region has long been a source of tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi. Georgia accuses Russia of aiming to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another region which has been outside of Georgia's control since a separatist conflict.

    "A major policy of annexation is ongoing. Russia is escalating," Eka Tkeshelashvili, Georgia's foreign minister, said at Nato headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Russia does not formally recognise either region's separatist government, but it maintains close contacts with them and has granted passports to most of the regions' residents.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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