Blame Russia, not Georgia for fighting, Tbilisi says
Wednesday night's outbreak of fighting in
the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia is the fault of Russia, not Georgia, the government in Tbilisi said Thursday in response to Russian statements,
"All responsibility for the recent development of events falls on (Russia): it is from Russian territory, through the Roki tunnel, that the mercenaries, military hardware and armament used to raid peaceful villages in the Tskhinvali region keep penetrating Georgia," a statement from the Georgian foreign ministry said.
"The military assistance rendered to the separatists' criminal regime by the Russian Federation, in violation of all agreements, cannot be assessed in any other way than as another act of aggression committed against Georgia," the statement, which was also released by the Georgian embassy to the European Union, said.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian officials accused Georgia of preparing for war in South Ossetia.
South Ossetia and the Georgian province of Abkhazia fought wars of independence against Tbilisi in the early 1990s, but have not been recognized by any other country. Since 1994, they have been occupied by Russian peacekeepers under a UN deal.
Moscow is widely seen as backing the breakaway regions.
In April this year, NATO leaders pledged that Georgia would join the alliance at an unspecified future date. Since then, tensions have shot up, with Russia shooting down an unmanned Georgian drone over Abkhazia and deciding to strengthen diplomatic ties with the region.
On Wednesday night fighting broke out between Georgian forces and South Ossetian fighters on their de facto border, with conflicting reports as to casualties.