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17 Jun, 2008 21:37

Russians transport missiles to Abkhazia: Georgian media

Georgian police have detained several Russian peacekeepers in the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict zone on Tuesday. Georgian media is reporting that the peacekeepers were transporting weapons and ammunition, including missiles.

The Russian servicemen – an officer and three soldiers – resisted arrest.

According to Tbilisi, the armaments were being moved without proper documentation.

The Russian peacekeeping mission in the area says it is checking the information on the detention of the servicemen. It believes the incident is another provocation by Georgia and a breach of the peacekeeping mandate.

“According to regulatory acts, the security zone can only be checked by representatives of the CIS collective peacekeeping force. Georgian police broke those acts by detaining the truck. Statements about illegal ammunition on the truck are absolutely false. They are standard issue weapons belonging to the collective peacekeeping force that is located in the conflict zone,” said Igor Konashenkov from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Troubled area

Abkhazia proclaimed its independence from Georgia in the 1990s, which led to a year-long war.
Since then the area has been supervised by UN observers and Russian peacekeepers. Military confrontations have been breaking out occasionally at the unofficial border between Abkhazia and Georgia. Over 100 Russian peacekeepers have been killed in the area.

Earlier this year, Georgia started a military build-up in the region.

In response, Russia increased its troops by 25%. Although it doesn't exceed the number allowed by the United Nation, Tbilisi claimed it was an act of aggression and demanded the troops out.

The UN mission has stepped in, trying to discover why the peacekeepers were detained. So the servicemen are expected to return to their base soon.