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Russia Begins Troop Deployment in Georgian Border Region

By VOA News
01 May 2008

Russia says it has begun deploying new military units in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, despite strong Georgian objections and NATO concerns.

Russian news reports quote a Russian Defense Ministry statement as saying "measures have been taken ... to equip command posts and establish communications systems" in the disputed border region.

The statement did not say how many additional troops have been sent to boost some 2,000 peacekeepers already in Abkhazia and a second contested Georgian border region, South Ossetia. Nor did it give the size of the deployment. But it says the size is not greater than what has been agreed upon under international accords.

Georgia calls the new Russian deployment an "extreme" provocation and says it violates a 1994 agreement requiring Russia to obtain Georgia's consent before sending more troops into the breakaway territory.

Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitri Rogozin, said Wednesday there will be no war between Russia and Georgia and that both sides should, in his words, "cool down."

Rogozin met with NATO ministers Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the increased tensions between Georgia and Russia.

Moscow says it is boosting its military presence in the regions to counter what it says is a nearby Georgian troop buildup. Many people in both breakaway areas want closer ties with Russia.

A top Georgian envoy said Wednesday the Russian deployment could be interpreted as an act of full-scale military aggression.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, sparking fighting and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers to the areas. Georgia says the peacekeepers side with the separatists. It has pledged to bring both regions back under central government control.

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