Georgian ambassador leaves Moscow

Georgia has withdrawn its ambassador to Russia following the flight of Russian fighter jets over the territory of Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia. Meanwhile, the republic’s authorities say that the number of peacekeeping forces in the confli

“I believe the peacekeeping mandate should be used to its full capacity,” said Dmitry Medoev, the plenipotentiary representative of the South Ossetian President.

“The Georgian side has been going through the motions that we always see just before a military offensive. The special telephone lines that pass through Tbilisi stopped working in my office, so we couldn't pass on information about the developments in the conflict zone,” said Marat Kulakhmetov, Head of the Peacekeeping Forces.

The Russian Foreign Ministry acknowledges that the fact that the country's military planes performed a reconnaissance mission over South Ossetia on Wednesday. Defence officials claim the sortie was necessary to prevent the invasion of the region by Georgian troops. Peacekeepers from Russia, Georgia and North and South Ossetia are monitoring the situation in the region in accordance with agreements.

Moscow is still considering its response to the withdrawal of the Georgian diplomat. South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has formulated its stance over Georgia’s conflict with Abkhazia. It says any dialogue between Tbilisi and Sukhumi would be impossible while Georgian troops remain in the Kodori Gorge, the disputed border zone between Georgia and Abkhazia.

At the same time, Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia are now on high alert. They have received brochures with detailed explanations of their functions and guidelines on the justified use of weapons.

The recent tensions follow a series of violent incidents in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Blasts in the Abkhazian towns of Gagra, Sukhumi and Gali killed four and injured more than a dozen. Abkhazia accused Tbilisi of organising the attacks, which Tblisi denied, and closed the border with Georgia.

Later Georgia attacked the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, using rocket-propelled grenades. At least one person was killed and three injured.