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25 Apr, 2008 16:39

No crisis in Russo-Georgian relations: Russian FM

Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says there's no crisis in relations between Russia and Georgia, despite rising tension over the past few weeks. Tblisi has accused Moscow of not being an impartial mediator in its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and

Georgia had also accused Russia of shooting down its unmanned spy plane, an allegation which Moscow denies.

Earlier, Moscow pledged to develop closer ties with Georgia's breakaway regions, which received a negative reaction from Tblisi.

However, Russia's foreign ministry says the problems stem from Georgia's internal conflicts.

“I don't see a crisis in Russia-Georgia relations. We are witnessing a crisis in relations between the leadership of Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The fact that the Georgian leadership can't establish a dialogue of respect with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and instead claims that it will join NATO, and that all the problems will be solved, seriously aggravates the situation. I hope this is clearly understood by those who artificially draw Georgia into NATO,” Lavrov said.

He also stressed that Tbilisi has categorically refused to sign, as suggested by the OSCE and the UN, documents about not using force in settling the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts

“We are not planning any military action but a military conflict starts up at the fault of one of the sights, the initiator of such a conflict should be certain that Russia will find all necessary means, and it has such means, to protect its citizens living there,” Valery Kenyaykin, Russia’s Special Representative on Relations with CIS Countries, said.

In response to the statement, the Chairman of the Georgian parliament's international relations committee, Kote Gabashvili said that “no one is planning to start a war in Abkhazia”. “But if Russia is intending to provoke such actions, Georgia is prepared to react adequately,” he added.