Russia recalled its ambassador from neighboring Georgia on Thursday and ordered the evacuation of some of its officials, escalating a crisis sparked by the detention of five Russian army officers on spying charges.
Moscow also told its citizens not to travel to Georgia, raising the stakes in Russia's confrontation with the small mountainous state of 5 million people it ran in Soviet times.
Russia's Foreign Ministry announced a partial evacuation of Russian personnel in Georgia and their family members in connection with a growing threat to their security, to begin today.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili denounced the Russian move as "hysteria", adding: "Russian personnel and their families face absolutely no threat here" the Herald reports.
Sergei Mironov, the chairman of Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, yesterday warned that the unfolding row could lead to war as nationalists demanded Russia get tough with a country it believes is being propped up by its old enemy, the United States.
Visibly shaking with anger, the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, told Russian state television of a separate incident in which he claimed seven Russian servicemen had been savagely beaten by Georgian law enforcement officials in an unprovoked attack, the Independent reports.
Analysts have warned that both sides have at times this year appeared to be spoiling for a fight, but the latest escalation seems to pose the most serious threat of confrontation, FT.com says.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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