Georgia set for military action

Georgia is preparing for military action in its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a senior Russian military official warned Friday.

"We have registered an increase in [Georgia's] reconnaissance activities and preparations for armed actions in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's general staff, told a news conference.

Georgia has also embarked on a program to increase its weapons and military capability in the past few years, Nogovitsyn added.

According to information at his disposal, since 2005, Georgian tank numbers increased from 98 to 183, armored vehicles from 83 to 134, artillery weapons from 96 to 238 combat helicopters from three to nine and warplanes from seven to nine.

He said Russia reserved the right to build up its peacekeeping contingent in Georgia's conflict zone.

"The number of peacekeepers in Abkhazia will be 2,142 people, and the number of peacekeepers in South Ossetia will be fixed at a later date," Nogovitsyn said.

The Defense Ministry official also said Russia had set up 18 peacekeeping posts in South Ossetia and would build as many in Abkhazia "in order to avert looters and the transportation of arms and ammunition."

Meanwhile, Russia has been continuing the withdrawal of troops from Georgia.

Three Russian fighters and 25 strike aircraft involved in the recent military operation in Georgia have returned to their permanent bases, Nogovitsyn said.

[Source: Novosti, Moscow, 22Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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