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3 May, 2009 09:42

Russian guards head for Abkhazian and Ossetian borders

The Russian army has dispatched guards to Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia's frontiers with Georgia, nine months after Tbilisi launched an offensive to take control of South Ossetia.

The deployment follows an agreement between Russia and the two republics, signed on Thursday.

“Border troops command will be located in Tskhinvali proper, while others will be deployed along the whole border perimeter. Russian border troops that are already in South Ossetia have come up to the border,” Nikolai Lisinsky said, head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Regional Border Department for the Southern Federal District.

Lisinsky refused to say exactly how many Russian border guards were on their way to the region, adding that their presence has nothing to do with the upcoming NATO exercises in Georgia and they do not plan to install barbed wire fences at the border.

“To protect the border the latest modern equipment will be used, including video surveillance and detection systems and unmanned aircraft,” he said.

Moscow vowed to enforce security in the region after it intervened in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict in August, 2008 and later recognised the independence of Georgia's two breakaway republics.

NATO says the presence of Russian border guards violates a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the EU, and infringes on Georgia's territorial integrity.

But Moscow insists the border guards are not part of Russia's armed forces, and so do not violate any agreeaments.