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Russia Justifies Sending ‘Railway Forces’ to Abkhazia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Jun.'08 / 16:57

Russian officials have dismissed Georgian protest over the deployment of Russian Railway Forces in Abkhazia as “just more anti-Russian noise.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 3 that Tbilisi would be better off moving from “pointless condemnation of threats of annexation and intervention to a policy of practical steps aimed at strengthening confidence.”

Georgian officials had earlier said that the deployment of a Russian MoD Railway Forces unit in Abkhazia to repair rail infrastructure was a prelude to military intervention.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the military engineers - equipped with a special train - were unarmed. 

“Their goal is clearly formulated: the replacement of railroad ties, the improvement of the railroad and the repair of railway bridges across the mountainous rivers of Kodori and Mokva. The approximate completion date has been set – between two to four months,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry claimed that an agreement on the rehabilitation of the Abkhaz section of the railway linking Russia and Armenia had been reached between Moscow and Tbilisi in 2003 during a meeting in Sochi between the then presidents of Russia and Georgia, Vladimir Putin and Eduard Shevardnadze, respectively. In a positive follow-up to that agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, an agreement was reached to set up a joint consortium on the resumption rail traffic through Abkhazia. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said work on the matter was however suspended after Georgia deployed troops in upper Kodori Gorge in summer, 2006.

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