Georgia Russia at Odds over South Ossetia

(Civil.GE/Itar-Tass)–Tbilisi and Moscow exchanged strongly worded statemen’s after the Georgian central authorities staged a show of force in the Ossetian conflict zone on May 31–marking rising tensions in Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetian Republic.

Russia warned that Tbilisi’s "provocative steps" might lead "to extremely negative consequences" in the conflict zone. In a statement issued on June 1–the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Georgia’s central government would be held responsible in the event of further deterioration of the situation and "bloodshed" in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s concerns were triggered by the sending of Georgian troops into the conflict zone on May 31. The Georgian authorities justified the action–saying police checkpoints were set up in the area to help fight drug smuggling in the region.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania on Wednesday slammed Russia’saying that "the issue concerns the territory of Georgia and nobody can prevent the Georgian authorities from establishing order throughout the country."

The Russian State Duma–meanwhile–issued a warning to the Georgia’s leadership on Wednesday–and expressed alarm over what they described as the emergence of an explosive situation in the immediate proximity to the Russian state border.

This situation–the State Duma said–"poses a threat to the security of many Russian citizens resident in the area of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict."

The Russian lawmakers said Russia has the right and is obliged to take every action possible under the Constitution and the UN charter to protect their lives–health–and property.

While expressing support for Georgia’s "struggle against cross-border crime," they emphasized that "the need for such struggle cannot serve as an excuse for actions fraught with the risk of undermining the already strained situation and the full loss of confidence between the sides."

"The introduction of commando units and troops of the Georgian Interior Ministry to South Ossetian territory on May 31 can be regarded in no way other than a show of force," Russian legislators said.

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