Source Pravda.Ru

Tbilisi officials regard exercises in Abkhazia as war preparations

Georgia is to ask Russia and the UN to stop the escalation of tensions and war preparations in Abkhazia, said Georgian State Minister for Separatist conflicts Georgy Khaindrava.

"We see the escalation of tensions and war preparations in self-proclaimed Abkhazia and want to ask the UN and Russia to stop these actions. We have no other peaceful means against this threat. Otherwise, a new war will be unleashed," Mr. Khaindrava said. According to him, "in the last two months the authorities of the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been getting ready for military operations."

"Military exercises were held in the Dzhavsky district of the Tskhinvali region [South Ossetia] and recently started in Abkhazia. Meanwhile, the media are booming about Georgia's alleged preparations for a war against South Ossetia and Abkhazia," the state minister noted.

"We demand a response of the UN military observers and Russian peacekeepers. We wonder where did Abkhazia get military hardware for the exercises from. On the one side, Abkhazia has an administrative border with Georgia and on the other side there is the Georgian-Russian state border," Georgy Khaindrava said.

In connection with the military exercises in Abkhazia, he is to hold a special meeting with UN Secretary General's special representative for Georgia Heidi Tagliavini.

Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladislav Eshba confirmed that military exercises are being held in the republic.

"The exercises are being held across the country in compliance with the plan confirmed by the Abkhaz President last year," Mr. Eshba told RIA Novosti on the phone.

Their task is to check mobilization readiness of the units, he added.

Commenting on Georgia's possible reaction, the minister pointed out that the exercises were planned. "Georgia has the right to hold exercises regularly," Vladislav Eshba said.

Meanwhile, he did not rule out that Georgia could reinforce its military units on the Abkhaz border in connection with the exercises in Abkhazia.

The exercises will end on Saturday, he reported.

The interaction of civil services and armed forces and evacuation of civilians will be practiced during the exercises, the Novosti-Georgia agency quoted Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Khadzhimba as saying.

Some reserve units will be mobilized for the exercises. According to the premier, the exercises have nothing to do with the aggravation of Georgian-South Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhaz relations.