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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Georgia might be preparing to use force in its breakaway region of South Ossetia
Georgia might be preparing to use force in its breakaway region of South Ossetia, Russia's foreign minister said in an interview with Russian daily Kommersant Thursday. Georgia's parliament voted Tuesday to replace Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia with international contingents. The move came against the backdrop of several events that racked up tension in the areas. "We are seriously concerned about latest escalation of the situation around the peacekeepers ... There have been many incidents that cannot but raise suspicions of a military operation being prepared against South Ossetia," Sergei Lavrov said. The minister highlighted two detentions of a Russian Embassy car carrying diplomats to the South Ossetain capital, a Russian peacekeeper tripping a land mine that had appeared after being planted by the Georgian side and then the parliamentary demand to withdraw Russian peacekeepers. "All these incidents are links of the same chain," he said. Lavrov said Georgia was refusing to accept proposals made by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to conclude agreements with the self-proclaimed republics that would prohibit the use of force and guarantee security in the conflict zones. "Georgia is continuing to sabotage mechanisms that are designed to resolve conflicts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Lavrov said, adding that Russia's peacekeeping mission had helped avert new bloodshed in the Caucasus. "In both cases there are mechanisms which have been approved by international bodies. This is the OSCE for South Ossetia, and the UN for Abkhazia. Therefore, the [Georgian] parliament's decision is an effort to exacerbate the situation to the extreme," he said. About 3,000 Georgian troops and some 7,000 civilians of all ethnic origins were killed in the war with Abkhazia, according to official Georgian sources. Abkhazia claimed several thousand people fighting on its side dead and hundreds of thousand displaced in the 1990s
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