Tbilisi Plans ‘Military Operation’ Against Abkhazia – Russia Says
/ 29 Apr.'08 / 14:24
Civil Georgia

Georgia has deployed over 1,500 police and soldiers in upper Kodori Gorge, which indicates that Tbilisi is preparing for a military operation against Abkhazia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on April 29.

“According to the information coming in, including from CIS peacekeepers in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, Georgia is sending weapons, fuel and lubricants, food and other technical means, as well as personnel of the Georgian armed forces to Upper Kodori; the total strength of army and police units in the Upper Kodori Gorge is over 1,500 people,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Besides police forces of the Abkhaz government-in-exile, the units of the Georgian special purpose troops, criminal and patrol police of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, units of counter-intelligence and servicemen from the Georgian Defense Ministry are also deployed in the Upper Kodori Gorge.  Moreover, there are artillery weapons (several units of 122-mm weapons and mortars).”

It added: “Analysis of the structure of the armed forces present in this region leads to the conclusion that a bridgehead is being prepared for the launch of military operations against Abkhazia.”

The Georgian Foreign Ministry warned on April 26 that Russia had initiated an information campaign in support of “military aggression planned against Georgia a long time ago.” It also warned that the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zones was “extremely risky.”

The Georgian Foreign Ministry’s statement was made in response to remarks by the Russian Foreign Ministry's special envoy for relations with CIS countries, Valery Kenyakin, who, according to Russian media reports, said on April 25 that if Georgia started a military conflict in Abkhazia or South Ossetia, Russia would have to respond, “including through military means.”

The Abkhaz side accused Tbilisi in mid-April of sending extra troops to both upper Kodori Gorge and the Zugdidi area on the Georgian side of the administrative border. Tbilisi denied doing so and accused the Abkhaz side of deploying additional troops in the Gali district on the Abkhaz side of the administrative border.

The UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), however, said on April 21 that it had found no evidence of a military build-up either in Kodori Gorge or on either side of the Abkhaz administrative border.

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