Georgia has officially notified Russia it is cutting formal diplomatic ties, the Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.
The Russian ambassador, Andrei Smaga, confirmed he had been told and called Georgia's move "a mistake," the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Georgia said Friday it was responding to Russia's recognition of the independence of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Smaga said that on Wednesday the embassy in Tbilisi will close down. He was unsure when embassy staff and their families would leave the country.
Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said Tuesday that Georgia appeared to be sending special forces to the area near the South Ossetian border, UPI reports.
Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, breaking off diplomatic ties does not automatically lead to a cut in consular relations.
The ministry's note required the Russian embassy in Tbilisi to stop its work on Wednesday, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Moscow last week recognized Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after a military conflict with Georgia in early August. The conflict ended with a six-point ceasefire agreement brokered by France.
Russia says its troops remaining in Georgia are serving on a peacekeeping mission agreed in the ceasefire deal. Tbilisi has declared the Russian troops in Georgia as "occupying forces."
Moscow's decision to recognize the two regions has drawn a storm of criticism from Georgia and the West.
By Tuesday's announcement, the Georgian government followed through on a parliament resolution last week that urged it to cut ties with Moscow.
The break in ties came on the heels of a one-day emergency EU summit, at which the 27-nation bloc decided to freeze talks on a new partnership pact with Moscow pending its full withdrawal of troops from Georgia, but shied away from sanctions, Xinhua reports.
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