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3 Sep, 2008 10:25

Russia closes embassy in Georgia

Russia has closed its embassy in the Georgian capital, Tbilis, and all diplomats are expected to travel back to Moscow in the next few days. It's the first time in its post-Soviet history that Russia has cut ties with an

The move follows Georgia's decision to break all diplomatic relations with Russia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it's considering a series of retaliatory measures.

Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko says more than 300 Georgians have applied for asylum in Russia since the beginning of the armed conflict in South Ossetia.

He also said the break-up of diplomatic relations will have an impact on the visa regime between the two countries. Russia stopped issuing Russian visas to Georgian citizens on Wednesday.

On Tuesday the Foreign Ministry received an official declaration from the Georgian government confirming that it is cutting all diplomatic ties with Russia. The communiqué called on Russia to close its embassy in Tbilisi by September 3.

Andrey Smaga, a Russian Embassy consul in Georgia, described the decision as 'another mistake by Georgia'. He added that the move 'will in no way facilitate the solution to the current problem'.

Georgia announced it was withdrawing most of its diplomatic staff from Moscow on Thursday last week. Consuls from both sides are expected to continue working in both capitals to ensure support for Russian and Georgian citizens respectively.