Abkhazia building up forces on Georgia border
( RIA Novosti ) - Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh ordered the deployment of additional forces to the de facto independent republic's border with Georgia, the president's official Web site said Thursday.
The measures were taken as tensions continue to rise in South Ossetia.
Anatoly Zaitsev, the head of Abkhazia's general staff, said Abkhazian armed forces were on high alert.
According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, on September 20 a Georgian special forces unit crossed the border into Abkhazia and attacked servicemen at a military base belonging to the anti-terrorist center of the Abkhazian Interior Ministry.
The Abkhazian Defense Ministry earlier said two soldiers were killed, at least four wounded, and several servicemen abducted as a result of the Georgian raid, while Georgia claims that a raiding party from Abkhazia attacked Georgian guards protecting a road being built in the Kodori Gorge, which lies in upper Abkhazia on the de facto border between Georgia and the breakaway republic.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that left hundreds dead in 1991-1992, and peacekeepers have been stationed in the region ever since.
Speaking at a UN General Assembly meeting Thursday, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said a thorough analysis of the peace process was needed to alter the format of talks, and that the peacekeepers should be replaced by "neutral forces" that would maintain peace rather than the "unjust status quo."
Saakashvili has repeatedly vowed to restore control of the two regions and has been trying hard to gain membership of NATO and the European Union, moves which have further aggravated Georgia's relations with Russia.
The Georgian president also claimed that one of the men killed by Georgian forces was a Russian colonel, saying "One has to wonder - what was a lieutenant colonel of the Russian military doing in the Georgian forests, organizing and leading a group of armed insurgents on a mission of terror?
"I want to ask our Russian friends - is there not enough territory in Russia? Are there not enough forests in Russia for Russian officers not to die in Georgian territory in Georgian forests?"
Immediately after Saakashvili's speech to the UN General Assembly, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that the men were instructors at an "anti-terrorist training centre," adding that Georgian authorities "have been doing everything to aggravate tensions".