Cold War flares again in Georgia's remote Kodori Gorge

The NATO-uniformed soldiers approached their heavily-armed Russian counterparts across the no-man's land in Georgia's remote Kodori Gorge in an eerie replay of the Cold War, dpa reported.

The rare encounter on May 23 between potential antagonists came under clear skies and breathtaking mountain scenery, and was peaceful - this time.

Two Georgian special forces officers wearing US Army-issue desert boots stepped across a half-ruined bridge separating Georgia from its renegade province Abkhazia. The two officers gingerly advanced to a black-and-white barrier covered with barbed wire, and then waved.

A few dozen metres down the dirt road, pair of Russians in combat dress and carrying AK-74 automatic rifles clambered out of a bunker covering the concrete-and-steel-girder bridge.

After some words to the crew of an armoured personnel carrier stationed behind the bunker, the infantrymen slowly approached the roadblock, and the Georgians.

The conversation between Russian servicemen charged with defending the technically-independent nation of Abkhazia, and Georgian soldiers looking to recapture it, lasted for about three minutes.

The conflict between Russia and its client Abkhazia on one side, and Georgia and its ally the US on the other, over places like the Kodori Gorge, captured from bandits by Georgian troops in 2006, is much older.

The frozen Abkhazia conflict began in the early 1990s when the predominantly Muslim Abkhaz, one of the some two dozen major ethnicities in the mountainous Caucasus region, seceded from Georgia in 1993. Thousands died and hundreds of thousands became refugees in the civil war, pitting Orthodox Christian Georgians against Muslim Abkhaz forces backed by Moscow.

The unofficial Abkhazia-Georgian frontier is still tense from from time to time. The most recent shooting took place on May 21 in the nearby Gali district, where gunmen believed to be Abkhaz militia ambushed a pair of buses carrying ethnic Georgians driving from Abkhaz territory towards Georgia proper.

Georgian army troops returned fire. Between five and 10 bus passengers were injured, and both buses destroyed in the ensuing firefight. The incident came on the heels of the April destruction of a Georgian spy drone on the Abkhaz side, by a Russian fighter jet. The UN on Wednesday pronounced the incident an effective Russian act of war.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a pro-Western politician keen on his country's joining NATO, is adamant that sooner or later Abkhazia, a destitute region and scene of ethnic cleansing against Georgians in the early 1990s, must return to Georgian sovereignty.

"We (Georgia) will never give Abkhazia up, it is pure Georgian territory, my grandfather had a house there before the war," Saakashvili said. "We will not compromise on this."

Saakashvili has proposed, repeatedly, Abkhazia return to Georgian control with extensive rights of autonomy, so that the 400,000 or so war refugees, mostly ethnic Georgians currently in temporary housing in Georgian, return home. The Abkhaz have, just as often, ignored the overture.

Russia has been equally adamant in its support to the statelet Abkhazia, handing out Russian passports to the Abkhaz and helping Abkhazia's army track the Georgian remote-control spy planes.

Most recently it moved Russian army howitzers, rocket artillery, tanks, and even a regiment of paratroopers into Abkhazia - all despite a 1993 ceasefire agreement supposedly limiting Russian armed forces allowed in the region to lightly-armed peacekeepers.

Russia former president Vladimir Putin said his country would take whatever steps it deemed fit "to protect Abkhazia from any Georgian aggression."

Saakashvili makes clear Georgia's picking a war with giant Russia would be "suicidal and crazy," despite Russia's "creeping annexation" of what amounts to most of Georgia's coastline.

Since 2003 US Green Beret advisers have been training the Georgian army to NATO standards, turning out disciplined, fit, and well- equipped infantry battalions almost ideally adapted for small scale fighting in the mountain wilderness along the Georgian Abkhaz border.

What is worse for Sukhumi, and irritating for the Kremlin, hundreds more Georgian troops are on the ground in Iraq as US allies, gaining combat experience.

At the Kodori Gorge roadblock the four soldiers, the two Kalashnikov-equipped Russians and two NATO-uniformed Georgians, went back to their fortifications without shaking hands.

On both sides of the stand-off line new sandbags, freshly-cut logs, recently-strung barbed wire and excavated dirt made clear that on the Georgia-Abkhazia frontier, the infantry are digging in deeper.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Over 70% of Iranians already received first dose of COVID-19 vaccine - Iranian President
Over 70% of Iranians already received first dose of COVID-19 vaccine - Iranian President
Iran's ministry shares financial data on backing its industrial, mining enterprises (Exclusive)
Iran's ministry shares financial data on backing its industrial, mining enterprises (Exclusive)
Iran unveils details of its trade turnover with Oman
Iran unveils details of its trade turnover with Oman
Loading Bars
Mexico to begin packaging Sputnik V vaccine in second half of November
Oil prices fall as weaker China growth, U.S. output stoke demand concerns
Turkmenistan’s enterprise launches filament lamps production
Germany might offer its experience in restoration of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh
Toshkent Metro to be under jurisdiction of Transport Ministry of Uzbekistan following presidential decree
Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan stepping down
Georgia reveals TOP-10 of largest energy consumers in country
Over 70% of Iranians already received first dose of COVID-19 vaccine - Iranian President
Iran's ministry shares financial data on backing its industrial, mining enterprises (Exclusive)
COVID-19: Kazakhstan adds over 1,300 fresh cases in 24h
N.Korea fires ballistic missile as military activity surges
Algeria lifts lockdown nationwide amid drop in COVID-19 cases
Road crash kills 11 in Ecuador
Turkey summons envoys of 10 countries over Kavala statement
Gunmen kill at least 43 in northern Nigeria - state governor
Apple introduces M1 Pro, M1 Max chips
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe exceeds 240 mln
Morocco police seize over one tonne of cocaine in Tangier port
Latvia announces four weeks of lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike
Chronicles of Victory: President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Russian TASS news agency on October 19, 2020 (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Chronicles of Victory: October 19, 2020
Occupation Museum, Memorial Complex and adjacent Victory Park will be built in Fuzuli
Israel congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Turkish President congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Tigray forces say air strikes hit Ethiopia's Mekelle, government denies
Czech president too ill to work, politicians discuss relieving him of duties
PMs discuss Belarus-Kazakhstan economic cooperation
Pentagon chief says US values Georgia as strategic partner
Azerbaijan's flag illuminated on TV tower in Georgia due to anniversary of restoration of Azerbaijan's independence (PHOTO)
Iran unveils details of its trade turnover with Oman
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Iran’s Lavan Oil Refining Company reveals products on sale at IRENEX
Post Bank of Iran sees increase in revenues
Price of Turkmen gas supplied to China grows - Wood Mackenzie
Turkey's Presidential Administration congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,245 more COVID-19 cases, 409 recoveries
Georgia and US sign Memorandum of Understanding
Uzbekistan Railways expanding transport, logistics co-op with sea and dry ports
Azerbaijan to hold new auction for state property facilities
Saudi fast-food franchise operator Alamar Foods considers IPO
French ambassador makes statement on occasion of Azerbaijan's Independence Restoration Day
German companies interested in expanding economic co-op with Azerbaijan
EU has exported over 1 bln COVID-19 vaccines
U.S. manufacturing output declines in September
Azerbaijan issues startup certificates to more SMEs
Uzbekistan’s private airline launches flights from Tashkent to Moscow
Iran eyes resuming import of Turkmen gas
Azerbaijan's Khudafarin bridge in Jabrayil district - finally liberated (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan’s renewable energy potential exceeds installed capacity fourfold
Kazakhstan to extend food import substitution measures amid COVID-19
Ukraine has every capability to restore infrastructure of Azerbaijan’s liberated territories – MP
Playtech acquired for $3.7b
Total value of Azerbaijan's oil export abroad up in 9M2021
Georgia to further develop relationship with Azerbaijan - Georgian MFA
EU Special Representative for South Caucasus to visit Azerbaijan
Iran records decrease in production of raw steel, steel products
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Turkish MoD congratulates Azerbaijan with its Independence Restoration Day
Ukrainian companies may partake in construction, restoration of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam – MP
Azerbaijan's announces drastic increase in car imports for 9M2021
Pan-European Executive MBA designed specifically to integrate holistic approach to business (VIDEO)
NATO ready to support ensuring peace in South Cacasus region - special rep
Non-OPEC oil output to more than half from 2020 levels
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for October 18
Israel and Azerbaijan are great allies and partners, who have common interest in region – former Israeli MP
European renewables generation to exceed 6,000 TWh
Over 60% of total investment to be spent on developing new oil & gas fields
Iran’s NICICO boosts extraction and production
Azerbaijan Automobile Federation organizes 'Time Attack' race (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's foreign trade turnover increases in 9M2021
Year passes since Azerbaijan's liberation of Khudaferin bridge from Armenian occupation (PHOTO/VIDEO)
EU gas production falls by 8%
Share of renewables in EU power generation mix decreased
North Carolina declares Oct. 18 as Day of Restoration of State Independence of Azerbaijan
MUSIAD aims to raise trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Turkey (VIDEO)
EU gas consumption reaches highest level in last seven years
EIB, EU Commission ink deal on financing for alternative fuels infrastructure projects
Armenia’s failure to provide minefield maps to Azerbaijan impedes restoration work in liberated territories - FM
Azerbaijan sees no effective steps from Armenia in opening transport links - minister
Azerbaijan recommends revanchist forces not to go down wrong path - PM
TAP updates on progress in market test
Azerbaijan stands for normalizing relations with Armenia in post-conflict period based on int'l law - FM
Turkey reveals cargo traffic with Netherlands for 8M2021
Master plans for Zangilan, Gubadli, Kalbajar and Lachin being prepared, will be done without taking any loans - Azerbaijani president
Khudaferin Bridge is proof of talent of Azerbaijani people - President Ilham Aliyev (VIDEO)
Physical gas flows, nominations at TAP’s interconnections
Great leader Heydar Aliyev returned to power at request of the people, then threat of losing independence again was prevented - president
Azerbaijan boosts gas exports
People of Azerbaijan tirelessly walked towards this victory - President Aliyev
Turkish FM tweets on marking Day of Restoration of Azerbaijan's Independence
Iranian currency rates for October 18
Kazakhstan sees rise in gold jewelry price
IRICA shares data on Iran’s export to neighboring countries
Azerbaijan gives update on mine clearance work on its liberated lands
Azerbaijan calls for urgent interim measures against Armenia
Bank of Georgia allocates funds to back project at local construction company
In villages of Fuzuli, each house will have at least 12 acres of land - president
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva shares post related to October 18 - Independence Restoration Day on Instagram (PHOTO)
All news