Peacekeepers in Abkhazia set up additional posts - February, 2008

Peacekeepers in Abkhazia set up additional posts

February, 2008

Collective peacekeeping forces in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict have set up additional observation posts, an aide to the peacekeeping force commander said on Saturday. "That was done to defuse tension that developed following an incident the day before, when three Abkhaz police were injured in a roadside bomb attack," Alexander Diordiyev said. Some media reports said Georgian commandos were responsible for the attack. But Georgia denied any involvement. Georgia's Rustavi-2 TV reported that Georgian soldiers were involved in the attack and that Georgian Interior Ministry special troops were concentrating near the administrative border separating Abkhazia from the rest of Georgia.

Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh announced on Friday the partial mobilization of the de facto independent republic's military, citing fears that Georgian troops could cross over into the breakaway region. The Abkhazian leader said the situation had escalated following statements by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who promised to use force to liberate a Georgian journalist detained by Abkhaz police. Tensions have also been raised following a recent incident in the Gali district during which an Abkhazian police car was blown up. Abkhazian presidential spokesman Kristian Bzhaniya said partial mobilization would take place parallel to a large-scale routine military exercise on February 29 - March 4. Anatoly Zaitsev, the chief of the General Staff, said up to 2,500 soldiers would be involved in the exercise.

Georgian journalist Malkhaz Basilai was arrested in Abkhazia on Tuesday while reporting on voting planned for the Russian presidential elections in the breakaway republic. Abkhazian authorities accused him of having illegally crossed into the Abkhazia. Saakashvili subsequently threatened the use of force to liberate Basilai. Abkhazia then warned Tbilisi against issuing ultimatums. Last week leaders of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which saw bloody conflicts after they declared independence from Georgia in 1991, said that Kosovo's independence should be taken into account as far as their sovereignty was concerned. Abkhazia said on Thursday it would seek recognition from Russia and the European Union. Russia has repeatedly said the recognition of the Balkan region's independence would set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including in the former Soviet Union. Political analysts fear that the declaration of independence by Kosovo, and its subsequent recognition by Western powers, will open up a Pandora's Box of separatist issues in Europe and beyond.


Russian peacekeepers on alert as Georgia-Abkhazia tension rises

Russia is building up its peacekeeping forces on the de facto border between Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia. It comes as Abkhazia’s president ordered the partial mobilisation of the army, in response to Georgian intentions to forcibly free a detained reporter, and a car explosion near the border. Three policemen were injured in the blast on Friday, but it's thought the attackers fled over the border into Georgia. Abkhazian authorities say up to 1,000 Georgian troops have been redeployed to the border, although none have crossed into the zone monitored by Russian peace-keepers. Tension increased between Georgia and Abkhazia following Kosovo’s declaration of independence. On Thursday, Abkhazia announced it would seek recognition from Russia and the EU.

Georgia’s breakaway republic announces partial mobilisation

The president of Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Sergey Bagapsh, has ordered a partial mobilisation of troops to the frontier following a bombing in the region. Abkhazian authorities say three policemen were injured when a bomb hit their car and they were raked with automatic gunfire. The attackers reportedly fled across the border into Georgia. According to Abkhazian sources, Georgia is also moving more troops to the border. On Thursday, another blast killed two policemen and left 17 others injured in Georgia’s other breakaway region of South Ossetia. The explosives were reportedly hidden in a television set left at a police post.


In related news:

What’s behind NATO intervention in Kosovo?

Nine years after the end of NATO's bombardment of Serbia, there are questions being asked about the real motives for the deployment of the alliance’s troops in Kosovo. There are those who believe the reasons were anything but humanitarian. NATO did everything it could to convince the world that it went to war against the former Yugoslavia to protect Kosovar Albanians from extermination. But nine years later and the numbers of bodies found still don't correlate with the claims. But maybe to find the answer to the question why NATO came to Kosovo you still have to dig deep underground? “Kosovo possesses huge reserves of coal 15 billion tonnes. We also have oil and fuel and mines with lead and gold. We are one of the richest parts of south-east Europe. But NATO didn't come here for this. They came only to save us from the Serbs. Today we are going to exploit our natural resources and not allow the Serbs to continue doing it," Professor Rifat Blaku, Deputy Minister of Public Services says. However, the leader of the Serbs in Kosovo sees it differently. “The first reason why NATO came to Kosovo is because we are wealthy with lead and zinc. The second reason, which is also very important, is because Serbia has always been a potential ally with Russia and NATO wants Serbia to be a small country. This is why they are taking fifteen percent of the Serbian territory by taking Kosovo,” Dr Marko Jaksic, President of the Serbian Municipalities of Kosovo believes. In the nine years since NATO took over the region from Serbia they've deployed soldiers here from more than 25 countries, United Nations police, EU officials, clerks. But the one thing they didn't bring is helping people put bread on the table.


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