Russia accuses Georgia of plotting armed attack against Abkhazia
Georgia's criticism of the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to Abkhazia was slammed Wednesday by Moscow, which called Tbilisi's declaration that Russian troops were occupying its breakaway region an attempt to plot an armed attack against Abkhazia.
"If [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili's absurd demand that the peacekeeping operation be halted in Abkhazia is implemented, the region will risk being plunged deeper into crisis by the unhealthy ambitions of the incumbent Georgian authorities," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said Russia would continue its peacekeeping missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The ministry added that the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States were deployed in the region not only with the consent of Georgia, but Abkhazia as well. This was fixed in the Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces, signed in Moscow in 1994. The ministry said the decision by CIS heads of state on the use of peacekeepers directly referred to a request from Abkhazia for this.
"Considering this, we think it impossible to resolve the fate of the peacekeeping operation without taking into account the opinion of the Abkhazian side," the ministry said adding that the whole architecture of the Georgian-Abkhazian settlement scheme would be disrupted otherwise.
Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Abkhazia as part of the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces since the 1990s, following a bloody conflict triggered by Abkhazia's bid for independence from Georgia.
After Friday's attempt by the Georgian military to regain control of South Ossetia and the subsequent expulsion of Georgian troops from the region, Russia has committed more than 9,000 paratroopers and 350 armored vehicles to Abkhazia in an attempt to prevent the South Ossetian conflict spreading, and to guard against a potential Georgian attack on Abkhazia.
[Source: Novosti, Moscow, 13Aug08]
The Question of South Ossetia
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