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Moscow worried by Georgian buildup near South Ossetia, Abkhazia

RIA Novosti

23/01/2009 19:06 MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday Georgia's expanding military presence on the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continued to be a matter for grave concern.

It said the Georgian military and police presence called for "special attention on the part of the UN and other international organizations operating in the region."

A week ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference that, "EU monitors working in areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been reporting a buildup of Georgian military units and special forces near the borders with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and our 'technical devices' have also recorded this. Provocations also occur sporadically. We are concerned by this."

Moscow criticized on Thursday a refusal by Tbilisi to allow Russian inspectors access to military installations on its territory.

Russia requested on January 19 and 21 that Georgia allow its experts access to Georgian military installations for evaluation and verification checks in accordance with a 1999 Vienna OSCE document on confidence and security-building measures. Georgia rejected both requests.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last August after Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to regain control over the breakaway republic. In response, Russia launched a military operation to eject Georgian troops from the region.

Two weeks after the end of the war, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another rebel region, as independent states. Abkhazia and South Ossetia split from Georgia in the early 1990s, and most residents of both republics have had Russian citizenship for a number of years. Moscow and Tbilisi have not had direct diplomatic relations since.

Russia accused Georgia of receiving arms from foreign countries, including Ukraine, during the conflict.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning exports of military products and dual-purpose technology to Georgia. Under the document, effective through December 1, 2011, the Russian government is to develop ways to restrict military cooperation with countries supplying Russian or Soviet-made arms to Georgia.


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