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Tbilisi, Tskhinvali agree to share info about military trainings

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, March 14
The Georgian and the de facto South Ossetian sides agreed to share the preliminary information about the military trainings conducted close to the administrative border between Georgia and its breakaway region. According to the de facto Tskhinvali authorities, the agreement was reached at the meeting held in the village of Ergneti in frames of Incidents Prevention and Response Mechanism on Friday. Deputy Special Representative of the de facto South Ossetian President in Post Conflict Regulation issues Merab Chigoev told Osinform news agency after the meeting. “We decided that if the information will be provided by all sides, then it is acceptable for us,” he said.

Chigoev noted however, that the de facto South Ossetian delegation refused to accept two proposals of Tbilisi – sharing information about what kind of law enforcement structures deployed along the administrative border between Georgia and Tskhinvali region (including the information about the number of the deployed law enforcers) and an issue of launching regular bus routes between the village of Kardzmani (Tskhinvali region) and the village of Sachkhere.

“We noted that the border is controlled by the Russian and the South Ossetian border guards, and if needed we can set up posts of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Internal Affairs – it is our internal issue and we are not going to share this information,” Chigoev told journalists “As for the bus routes between the villages of Kardzmani and Sachkhere – this is a political issue. Between these villages there is a state border and by demanding unhindered bus connection they are trying to show that the border is merely conditional. Of course we strongly objected to this proposal,” he added.

Meanwhile officials in Tbilisi have expressed their discontent towards the information about deploying more Russian troops in South Ossetia. According to the Deputy Head of Russian Federal Border Service, Vyacheslav Dorokhin, the number of Russian military servicemen was increased by 300 in Tskhinvali region due to the “severity of the situation”. “We added 300 border guards and now we have 1200-strong contingent there,” Dorokhin told BBC Russian service. In a special statement issued by the Georgian Foreign Ministry, Tbilisi slammed the increase of the number of Russian “border guards” in Georgia’s breakaway region.

“These statements indicate that Russia is not going to meet its commitments undertaken in the August 12, 1008 ceasefire agreement and is intentionally strengthening its military presence on Georgia’s occupied territories by increasing military contingent under the cover of Defence Ministry or Border forces, as well as by deploying big number of military equipment, including assault rocket systems such as Smerch and Tochka-U,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry’s statement reads.

The Russian Defence Ministry reported on deploying additional military equipment and armaments in 4th military base in Tskhinvali on December 3. Later on December 6, news agency Interfax reported about a deployment of a division of reactive artillery equipped with a multiple rocket launcher artillery system Smerch close to the town of Tskhinvali in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. According to an anonymous source from Russian law enforcement structures, Interfax reported that the division was deployed in order to “prevent possible aggression from the Georgian side.”