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1 May, 2008 14:31

Georgia accuses Russia of `military aggression`

Georgia says the recent build-up of Russian troops in its breakaway region of Abkhazia is “an act of military aggression”. However, Moscow insists it's only responding to a surge in Georgian troop numbers in the upper Kodori Gorge –

Russia says its peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are there to prevent new armed clashes.

But Tbilisi calls the move an attempt by Russia to annex parts of its territory and says it risks undermining the country's territorial integrity.

The Special Envoy of the Georgian President, David Bakradze, said he was extremely concerned.

“Today we all witnessed the TV pictures showing the deployment of additional Russian troops in Abkhazia. That all happens without preliminary consultations with the Georgian side,” Bakradze said.  

“By international law, deployment of any military force without the consent of the sovereign country is clearly defined as ‘an act of aggression’. Therefore, what we are facing today is an act of Russian military aggression in Abkhazia and that is the continuation of Russia’s foreign policy on the ground,” he said.   

However, Russia insists its presence in the breakaway region complies with international agreements as well as with the Russian constitution.

Vyacheslav Kovalenko, Russia’s Ambassador to Georgia, refers to an agreement from 1994, “which says the Russian side – actually the peacekeepers – has the right to be in the zone, in numbers from 2,500 to 3,000 people”.

“The number of peacekeepers is in complete compliance with those agreements, which were signed by the Georgian President,” Kovalenko said.

“The Russian constitution orders to protect Russian citizens wherever they may be – in Abkhazia, in Zanzibar, in Antarctica – wherever. Even on the moon,” he said.