The troops of Abkhazia, another unrecognized republic and an enclave in Georgia, have launched an operation to oust the Georgian military men from the upper part of the Kodori Gorge, Interfax reports with reference to the Abkhazian Defense Ministry.
The point units of the Abkhazian army – about 2,000 people - entered the upper part of the Kodori Gorge at about 8 a.m. Tuesday. Georgia has about 2,500 men in the region. All civilians have been evacuated through the humanitarian corridor, Abkhazian defense officials said.
Abkhazian fighter jets bombed Georgia’s battle positions in Ajar. Abkhazia’s defense officials stated that Georgia’s groups in the region had been encircled and defeated as a result of the landing operation.
Georgia launched missiles from man-portable systems targeting Abkhazian combat helicopters Tuesday morning.
Officials from the Defense Ministry of Abkhazia stated that the Georgian troops had an opportunity to leave the upper part of the Kodori Gorge through the humanitarian corridor.
Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh announced partial mobilization in the republic on August 10.
Sergei Shamba, the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, stated that Russian troops were not participating in the operations in the Kodori Gorge. Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitali Churkin confirmed the information.
“Our troops in Abkhazia remain within the security zone. Our defense officials strongly deny all panic reports which claim that the Russian troops had supposedly occupied the town of Gori and advanced towards Tbilisi [Georgia’s capital],” Churkin said as the session of the UN Security Council ended Tuesday.
Abkhazia opened the second front on August 9 and launched an operation to oust the Georgian troops from the Kodori Gorge.
Georgia’s parliament will hold a special meeting Tuesday, at 1:00 p.m. local time upon Mikhail Saakashvili’s decision.
“The special session of the parliament will be held to discuss measures to guarantee law and order and to provide people with everything that they need,” ITAR-TASS quoted Saakashvili as saying.
There were no incidents reported last night in Georgia. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, lives and functions as usual. The public transport, including the metro, the airport, stores and state institutions, work according to their usual schedule.
The prime minister of Georgia urged the nation to keep calm.
“The president holds intensive telephone conversations with leaders of different countries. We are expecting adequate help, although we are disappointed that the situation has been brought to its current condition,” the prime minister said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is arriving in Moscow Tuesday to conduct negotiations with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Sarkozy’s prime goal is to make the authorities of Russia and Georgia sit down for talks.
Russian news agencies say that the Kremlin may put forward tough conditions for peace, which may include a requirement for Mikhail Saakashvili to step down from the position of Georgia’s president.
Sarkozy has virtually become the first Western leader who publicly estimated Moscow’s requirement to Tbilisi to undertake a commitment not to use force.
Russia has repeatedly asked Georgia to sign a legally binding document not to use force for the solution of Georgia’s conflict with the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia. However, Georgia’s Saakashvili claimed that he did not see a need in signing the document. If Georgia had signed the document with Russia, it would have entailed the nation’s direct responsibility for the military actions against S. Ossetia.
France , Germany and Finland, the chairing state at the OSCE, will most likely become Russia’s international mediators. Moscow is not likely to agree for such services from the USA since the US administration openly supports Tbilisi at the UN Security Council.
Russia needs to conduct negotiations with European states to start the political regulation of the conflict. Sarkozy’s visit to Moscow could be a good opportunity to start the process.
In addition to Saakashvili’s resignation, Moscow will strive for his persecution at the special International Tribunal for South Ossetia.
The Kremlin considers the question of Saakashvili’s exemption from power to be a principal issue in the solution of the conflict. Nicolas Sarkozy will thus have to either personally convince the Georgian president of the need to step down or explain at the Kremlin that Russia’s conditions would be unfeasible.
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