Abkhazia believes that the CIS peacekeeping contingent in the republic is coping with its functions, Igor Akhba, a representative of the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Abkhazia, told a news conference in Moscow on Friday. According to him, Sukhumi "gives a positive assessment" to the activity of Russian peacekeepers who make up a majority in the contingent. In the Abkhazian side's opinion, withdrawal of the peacekeepers from the republic would not promote settlement of the conflict. "All that is now being done by Georgia does not contribute to normal relations with Russia, including Tbilisi's statement about a possible withdrawal of CIS peacekeeping troops," Akhba believes. In his opinion, the aim of what is now happening in the region, as well as of some statements by Tbilisi, is "to provoke an international conflict and force Russia out of the region". In replying to a journalists' question if Abkhazia would be able to oppose alone the onslaught of bandit groups, Akhba indicated that the Abkhazian military has "enough men, resources and spirit". He also emphasized that he considers "inappropriate and unjustified" an analogy between the situations in Chechnya and Abkhazia. Russia supports in Abkhazia those who are opposed to international terrorism, not separatists, Akhba said.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea