Russian peacekeepers must stay: Abkhazian President

The President of the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Sergey Bagapsh, says the conflict zone on the border with Georgia can only be patrolled by Russian peacekeepers.

The statement comes in response to repeated Georgian demands for the withdrawal of Russian troops. Tbilisi says Moscow is no longer neutral in the dispute over the sovereignty of the region.

“The replacement of Russian and CIS peacekeepers in the conflict zone is out of the question, as they have been performing their duties with honour and dignity for years,” Bagapsh said.

“As far as NATO coming to Georgia – it would lead to a deterioration in the situation in both the Northern and Southern Caucasus as well as in the whole region,” he added.