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Sharp Escalation of Georgian-Ossetian Conflict

04.08.2008 10:01

The situation on the zone of Georgian-South Ossetian conflict is close to a direct armed confrontation. The escalation is observed already for several days.

For example, on Saturday night 6 citizens of South Ossetia were killed and 15 were wounded during the fire-fight in the zone of Georgian-Ossetian conflict. According to official sources, due to firing at Georgian villages of the Tzhinvali District on Friday nine peaceful people and one policeman were wounded. The South Ossetian party claimed about six killed and nine wounded persons. In the opinion of the Tzhinvali authorities the conflict was provoked by the Georgian side. The shooting from the Georgian side continued on the following days.

On Monday night a Georgian sharp shooter kept under fire a South Ossetia militia checkpoint in the south-western outskirts of Tzhinvali. This information was reported by Minister of Interior of South Ossetia Mikhail Mindzayev.

The Minister said: "A sharp shooter kept under fire our checkpoint nightlong. He started his job at 23:00 and fired until the morning. Thank God, there are no casualties on our side".

Besides, according to the Information and Press Committee of the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia the Georgian side is concentrating troops at the South Ossetian border.

The Committee reports as quoted to the Press-Service of the Ministry of Defense and Emergency Management of the South Ossetia that "the Georgian troops are observed moving towards the border of South Ossetia".

The Press-Service reports: "An artillery convoy consisting of one battalion of the D-30 howitzers and two mortar batteries arrived to the Tzhinvali area from Military Base Gori. They are the units of the 4th Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Georgian Defense Ministry".

Against the background of marked aggravation of the situation in the zone of Georgian-Ossetian conflict the KPF Commander made a decision to put his troops on the Reinforced Alert. It was reported by Vladimir Ivanov, Assistant Commander of the Collective Peacekeeping Force.

Speaking about the sharp escalation of situation in the border areas and statement of Tbilisi about its readiness to conduct direct talks with Tzhinvali, Leader of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity blamed the Georgian side for attempts to discredit the stand of South Ossetia in the eyes of the world community. Kokoity said: "The Georgian side is making efforts to discredit our stand in the eyes of the world community claiming that it is ready to conduct direct talks with South Ossetia. But it is just a PR-action. While they speak about their readiness for the talks, we see that they are bringing heavy weapons to the border of South Ossetia including multiple launch rocket systems. It shows that Georgia tries to maintain military pressure on us to make us to surrender to the change of the peacekeeping format that excludes North Ossetia and Russia. But we are not the people to surrender. We will not negotiate about anything with anybody without North Ossetia and Russia".

In turn, another unrecognized republic - Abkhazia, which is also considered by Tbilisi its own territory, officially claimed that it suspends the negotiation process due to the escalation of situation in South Ossetia. In particular, Abkhaz Leader Sergey Bagapsh refused to meet with the group of friends of the UN Secretary General on August 15. President Bagapsh said about it on Sunday at an extraordinary meeting of the Abkhazia Security Council.

In this connection the Russian Foreign Ministry made a statement about the need to immediately resume the negotiation process in the Joint Control Commission format and conduct urgent working meetings between representatives of the conflicting parties. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on Georgia and South Ossetia to show maximum restraint, and avoid use-of-force scenarios that "would conclusively thwart all hopes of settling the Georgian-Ossetian conflict".