U.N. Security Council to vote on Georgia mission
(Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council was due to vote on Friday to extend a U.N. mission in Georgia and urge the former Soviet republic to refrain from provocative actions towards it breakaway region of Abkhazia.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the resolution agreed by an informal advisory "Group of Friends of Georgia" -- Germany, France, Russia, Britain and United States -- does not "shy away" from the latest dispute between neighboring Russia and Georgia, reports Trend .
The resolution "once again urges the Georgian side to address seriously legitimate Abkhaz security concerns, to avoid steps which could be seen as threatening and to refrain from militant rhetoric and provocative actions."
It also reaffirms a commitment to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Relations between Russia and Georgia are tense. Moscow cut transport and post links with the smaller Caucasian nation after Georgia briefly detained four Russian army officers on spying charges last month.
Russia has also been irked by Georgia's pursuit of NATO and European Union membership, while Georgia accuses Russia of backing Abkhaz separatists.
The resolution has gone through many versions, starting with a toughly worded draft by Russia after the detention of the army officers. It was somewhat softened by the advisory group but the United States held off supporting it until the last minute, arguing that the text was unbalanced.
The draft resolution expresses concern at the move by Georgia in July to send security forces into part of the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in 1993, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Officially, no country or international body recognizes its sovereignty and it is visited only by Russian soldiers, U.N. officials and a few relief agencies.
Some 250,000 Georgians fled the region when the separatists, backed by mercenaries and arms from Russia's northern Caucasus region, drove out Georgian government troops and declared independence in a 1992-1993 war.
Moscow props up the province by paying pensions, issuing Russian passports and allowing cross-border traffic while acting as the lead "facilitator" in a peace process.
A U.N. observer mission has operated in Georgia, a mountainous state of 5 million people, since August 1993. The resolution would extend that operation for another six months.