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Georgia's military operation in the Kodori Gorge could seriously hamper the settlement of the long-running conflict between Georgia and the breakaway republic of Abkhazia
Georgia's military operation in the Kodori Gorge could seriously hamper the settlement of the long-running conflict between Georgia and the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Russia's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday. Georgia started what it termed an anticrime operation in the region last week to find and disarm a rebellious militia unit led by Emzar Kvitsiani, a former Georgian presidential envoy to Abkhazia. Grigory Karasin said, "The deployment of Georgian troops in the Kodori Gorge is undoubtedly a dangerous military action which could destroy the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict settlement process." The operation began after Kvitsiani said on July 23 he did not recognize Tbilisi's rule. Abkhazia said today that Georgia had already deployed over 2,000 soldiers, two light armored prime movers, two Mi-8 helicopters, four Mi-24 helicopters and possibly one U.S.-made Iroquois (UH-1 Huey) helicopter in the upper part of the Kodori Gorge, although the operation, according to Georgian authorities, has been completed. Karasin also said that Russia considered the establishment of the so-called "government-in-exile" in the Abkhazian region as a deliberate attempt to escalate political tensions. "The future intent of the authors of this plan is also clear to us," he said. "Russia, which has peacekeepers and tens of thousands of its citizens in Abkhazia is particularly concerned about these actions." The diplomat said Russia saw its role in promoting the peaceful resolution of the conflict and ensuring the security of the population in the region. The bloody conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia erupted in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was suspended by a ceasefire agreement that introduced peacekeeping troops of the former Soviet republics, including Russia, in the separatist area.
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