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16 Aug, 2008 18:16

Russian peacekeepers to stay in Abkhazia & South Ossetia

Russian peacekeepers will not leave the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, according to the country’s military. The Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, told the media t

“We'll never give up as peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” he said.

“If they stop fulfilling their function now, then who will ensure security there? We will stick firmly to the provisions of the Treaty of 1992, which defines the procedure and tasks of our peacekeepers in conflict zones.”

As for the future peacekeeping force, he refused to speculate on its composition.

“Concerning the possibility of bringing peacekeepers from other countries into the peacekeeping force, we’ll have to wait for a political decision to be made,” he said.

Nogovitsyn though warned that people in South Ossetia and Abkhazia would not like to see Georgian troops as peacekeepers.

“One thing is clear though: the President has said that the Georgian troops definitely won’t be part of the peacekeeping force after they did what they did. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia strongly object to their involvement and Russia will honour their objection. In fact Russia shares their position,” Nogovitsyn said.

The Russian military has refuted Georgian reports that its troops are stationed in the city of Gori and the port of Poti.

He admitted the units had been outside Gori only to prevent arms being smuggled to South Ossetia.

Nogovitsyn also dismissed Georgian media claims that Russian troops blew up a bridge 45 kilometres away from Tbilisi. It is claimed it happened after the completion of the active phase of combat in the Georgian territory.

“I am telling you with all responsibility that this could not have happened,” he said.

Nogovitsyn also announced a Georgian reconnaissance and sabotage group had been thwarted on Friday.