Tensions flare again between Russia, Georgia
Share with others:
Russia accused Georgia yesterday of firing mortars and grenades into South Ossetia and warned that it would defend the separatist territory with "all available forces and means" as tensions mounted ahead of the anniversary of last year's war.
Georgia condemned Russia's assertion as "groundless and misleading," saying it was aimed at "further destabilizing the situation and causing the unfolding of a dangerous scenario of events."
Calling for restraint on all sides, the European Union's monitoring mission in the region said it had seen "no evidence to confirm that any firing has taken place toward Tskhinvali or its surroundings," referring to the South Ossetian capital.
The exchange of tough words came less than a week before the anniversary of the start of last year's war between Russia and Georgia. How that brief conflict began remains in dispute, but in the weeks leading up to the fighting, both nations engaged in rhetoric similar to yesterday's.
The mission also noted that its unarmed patrols are blocked from entering South Ossetia and said it needed access to areas "where the incidents are purported to have taken place" in order to make a "more complete assessment of the situation on the ground."
Sniper fire is common along the de facto border between Georgian-controlled territory and South Ossetia, which Russia recognizes as an independent state. But the shooting appeared to escalate Wednesday night, when journalists reported hearing two loud explosions near Tskhinvali.
First Published August 2, 2009 12:00 am