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Tbilisi Condemns Russian ‘Railway Troops’ in Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 May.'08 / 17:01

Deployment of the Russian Railway Forces in breakaway Abkhazia indicates that military intervention is being prepared, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said on May 31.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said on May 31 it had sent unarmed units of the Railway Forces – Russian MoD’s unit tasked with protection and reconstruction of railway infrastructure – to Abkhazia as part of Moscow’s “humanitarian assistance” to the unrecognized republic.

“Each citizen of Georgia understands very well that annexation of Abkhazia is underway in all directions, including trade, social, economic and legal ones. And now an extremely dangerous military component was added to this process,” Grigol Vashadze said. “Nobody needs to bring Railway Forces to the territory of another country, if a military intervention is not being prepared. It is impossible to assess it otherwise.”

He said that military engineers and specialists for reconstruction of roads and bridges were among the Russian Railway Forces sent to Abkhazia.

“We assess this act as one more aggressive move by Russia against Georgia’s territorial integrity. They are strengthening the military infrastructure in order to launch intervention into Georgia,” the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister said. “It is an absolute demagogy, when intervention into the territory of a neighboring country is being justified by humanitarian purposes, while military infrastructure is being reinforced.”

“If we recall the fact that the Russian Federation has already brought 500 paratroopers into Abkhazia and if we take into consideration that anti-aircraft missile systems and howitzers with a range of 50 kilometer, have been brought to our territory [into Abkhazia] illegally, it is quite clear, why it [sending of the Railway Forces] is being done.”
 
Vashadze also said that the Russian ambassador in Tbilisi, Vyacheslav Kovalenko had been summoned to express protest.

Sergey Shamba, the foreign minister of breakaway Abkhazia, told Rustavi 2 TV via phone on May 31 that 400 Russian specialists had arrived in the breakaway region.
 
Russia’s decision to send its Railway Forces to Georgia came after Yuri Zubakov, deputy secretary of the Russian National Security Council, visited Tbilisi on May 29.

During the talks with President Saakashvili, the details of the agenda of the meeting between the Russian and Georgian Presidents were discussed. The meeting is planned in St. Petersburg on a sideline of an informal summit of CIS leaders.

President Saakashvili said on May 27 that during talks with his Russian counterpart Dimitri Medvedev, he would push forth the issues of withdrawal of additional peacekeeping troops from Abkhazia, revoking of the April 16 decision on establishing legal links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and revision of the existing peacekeeping format.

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