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  Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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The European Union is ready to send a civilian observer mission
The European Union is ready to send a civilian observer mission to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but its deployment depends on the situation in the conflict zone, the EU's foreign policy chief said on Monday.

The EU has pledged to deploy a 200-strong EU mission to Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, replacing Russian troops.

"The first commitment is to deploy the 200 observers before October 1. It will be done in time ...After that, we will see how the situation evolves," Javier Solana said ahead of talks by EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Russia said on Sunday it had completed the pullout of its troops from western Georgia, but added that it would deploy a total of 7,600 troops in the so-called buffer zone around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, more than twice the size of its peacekeeping contingent before the five-day war with Georgia in August.

On August 26, Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. The move came after Georgian forces had attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, leading to a Russian military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." Most residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have had Russian citizenship since the early 2000s.

Russia's decision to recognize the rebel regions and its response to Georgia's attack were both heavily criticized by the West.

"We are ready and disposed to go beyond the [EU's] commitments into other places, but we have to see how the situation evolves on the ground," Solana.


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