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31 May, 2008 17:01

Georgia accuses Russia of plotting Abkhazia invasion

Around 300 troops from Russia’s railway force have arrived in Abkhazia, at the request of the province's government. The unarmed units have been brought in to repair a stretch of track in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia. Georgia says it's an act

“In compliance with the decision of the Russian President to supply humanitarian aid to the Republic of Abkhazia, and following an appeal from the Abkhazian government, work is currently underway to restore railway track and infrastructure. It’s being done by units using special hardware from Russia's railway troops, who are unarmed arms,” Aleksandr Drobyshevsky, a spokesman from Russia’s Defence Ministry explained.

But Georgia strongly condemns the move and accuses Russia of plotting a military invasion of Abkhazia. According to Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, the move is a step of aggression.

“This is nothing more than preparation for military intervention, and is also nothing more than an enforcement of their aggressive policy with a military complement,” Vashadze said.

The breakaway republic maintains that the restoration project is purely economic, and has nothing to do with the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

“The main goal of the troops is the reconstruction of several parts of our railroad,” said Abkhazia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daur Kove.

Wrecked during war

The railway was wrecked by the Georgian military during the war between Georgia and Abkhazia in the 90s.

Abkhazia unilaterally declared independence from Georgia in 1992, although it has not been recognised internationally.

The deployment of the ‘Railway Troops’ is the latest in a series of events over the past few months that has seen Russia and Georgia accuse each other of provocations.

An unmanned spy plane was shot down over Abkhazia on April 20 and Georgia said Russia was to blame.

Abkhazian officials, however, insisted they were the ones that shot down the drone.

On Friday talks were held within the framework of the UN Security Council. Georgia promised the UN it would suspend spy flights over Abkhazia if it doesn't see any danger.

Russia said it would carry out its own investigation into the incident and will involve foreign experts in the inquiry.

Some experts say Georgia is inflating tensions in the region to attract NATO's attention. However, NATO countries are not that eager to intervene on behalf of Georgia, as there are many other conflicts in the world that are much more pressing than the issue of Georgia.

While some say the finger-pointing is set to continue, others call for a constructive approach, namely, new talks to have Georgia and Abkhazia sign a peace agreement, which could then lead to a better relationship between all sides.