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Russia warns Georgia may use force against breakaway areas

RIA Novosti

17/10/2007 17:28

SOLNECHNOGORSK (Moscow Region), October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's military has evidence that Georgia is prepared to use force to resolve conflicts with its breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a top army official said on Wednesday.

"You will surely remember [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili's statement, to the effect that he is determined, before re-election, to resolve the problem of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I believe this implies the use of force, among other things," said Army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the Armed Forces General Staff.

He said the current instability in the provinces, which border on Russia, is complex and could have far-reaching consequences.

"What will this lead to? Believe me, in 1993-95, I was chief of staff of the Russian forces in the Caucasus, and I saw what it is for a country to be on the verge of civil war," he said.

Georgia has repeatedly expressed its intention to regain control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away in the early 1990s. It has also accused the CIS peacekeeping force, mainly represented by Russians, of backing separatists.

Georgia has called for the peacekeepers to be replaced by a neutral international force.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved an extension of the mandate for its observer mission in Georgia on October 15 by another six months, until April 15, 2008.

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