sends reinforcements to Abkhazia
Georgian troops serving in Iraq have rushed back, says
Three days after sending in troops to South Ossetia, Russia
has deployed more forces in Abkhazia, another breakaway region
of Georgia, effectively opening a second front in its military
operation in the former Soviet republic.
force consists of more than 9,000 troops and more than 350
armoured vehicles,” said a spokesman for Russia’s peacekeeping
forces in Abkhazia. He described the deployment as “strengthening
of the peacekeeping contingent” in the region. Russian peacekeepers
have been deployed in Abkhazia since 1994 following a conflict
where the coastal region broke away from Tbilisi’s control.
commander in Abkhazia, General Sergei Chaban, said he had
issued an ultimatum on Monday to Georgian forces in the Upper
Kodori Gorge, a demilitarised part of Abkhazia, to disarm
or face an attack. Georgia had moved in troops and artillery
in the region two years ago in violation of the 1994 ceasefire
agreement with Abkhazia.
the ultimatum is rejected all necessary enforcement measures
will be used,” said the Russian commander. Russia has continued
to build up military pressure on Georgia even as its President
Mikheil Saakashvili reportedly pleaded for peace. The Russian
Air Force has established full superiority in the Georgian
airspace, Russia’s deputy chief of General Staff General,
Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said at a Moscow news briefing on Monday.
Russian warplanes carried out more strikes against Georgian
targets, including an aircraft factory where Georgia’s Su-25
warplanes were assembled. Russian warships deployed off Georgia’s
Black Sea coast have sunk a Georgian gunboat, when four gunboats
entered the zone of blockade, said General Notovitsyn.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who is leading a mediation
mission to Georgia, said he had obtained Mr. Saakashvili’s
agreement to sign a peace plan and would now take it to Moscow.
However, later on Monday, Georgian forces resumed bombardment
of South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, and Russian positions
in the region, killing three Russian peacekeepers.
military losses in South Ossetia have risen to 18 men killed,
14 missing and about 50 wounded, said General Nogovitsyn.
Russia has also admitted losing four warplanes. The Deputy
Chief of Staff said that contrary to Tbilisi’s claims some
Georgian forces remained in South Ossetia, even as they suffered
military aircraft on Sunday transported 800 Georgian troops
serving in Iraq, along with “about 11 tonnes of cargo, back
to Georgia,” said General Nogovitsyn, adding that Russia would
deploy additional forces to offset these Georgian reinforcements.
President Dmitry Medvedev vowed never to relinquish Russia’s
strategic hold on the Caucasus and that Russia had to intervene
militarily to stop Georgia’s “disgusting aggression” against
has historically been a guarantor of security in the Caucasus,”
said Mr. Medvedev at the Kremlin. “We have never been and
will never be passive onlookers in the region,” he added.
At a meeting with Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Monday,
Mr. Medvedev said “a major part of operations” in South Ossetia
had been completed. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
slammed the West for supporting Georgia its aggression against
a row has broken out between Russia and Ukraine over the latter’s
support for Georgia in the current crisis. Ukraine said it
may not allow Russian warships patrolling in the Black Sea
to return to their base in Sevastopol.