The latest incident to blight relations between Georgia and Russia took place in a forest in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia.
That was where Georgian forces last week killed two Russian military officials.
President Mikheil Saakashvili, speaking at the UN on September 26, said it was a "law-enforcement operation" aimed against illegitimate intruders.
"One has to wonder, what was a lieutenant-colonel of the Russian Army doing in the Georgian forest organizing and leading a group of armed insurgents in a mission of subversion and violence?" Saakashvili said. "I want to ask our Russian friends: Is there not enough territory in Russia? Are there not enough forests in Russia for Russian officers not to die in Georgian territory, in Georgian forests? Whatever the explanation is, we regret the loss of life."
Russia disagrees with that account. Speaking after Saakashvili's speech, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said it was an "unprovoked" attack on an "antiterrorist training" exercise. The incident took place in the Kodori Gorge, which straddles Georgian-controlled Upper Abkhazia and the pro-Russian breakaway region of Abkhazia.
Churkin said the men were "instructors" and were killed with knives and gunshots to the head. Georgia, he said, has done everything to "aggravate tensions."
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been shaky since the 2003 Rose Revolution thrust the Western-leaning Saakashvili into power.
Last year, Russia cut transport and trade ties with Georgia, after Tbilisi arrested four Russian military officers it accused of spying.
In August this year, Georgia said a military jet illegally entered its airspace from Russia and dropped a missile before flying back to Russia. The missile landed in a field near Georgia's border with its breakaway region of South Ossetia, but did not explode. Russia denies the incident, rferl.org reports.
Russia's foreign minister said both his country and neighboring Georgia want to prevent a deterioration in relations in the wake of recent incidents in two Georgian breakaway republics.
Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have been marred by incidents involving Russian peacekeepers stationed in the Georgian conflict zones.
On August 29, Georgia detained three peacekeepers from the joint forces' North Ossetian battalion. Although one of them was released, two were sentenced later to two months imprisonment. Moscow has since constantly called on Tbilisi to release them.
"Both Russia and Georgia have a common desire to prevent a worsening of bilateral relations, including the situation in the South Ossetian and Abkhazian conflict zones," Sergei Lavrov said, following talks with his Georgian counterpart Gela Bezhuashvili at the UN.
The Russian minister said the issue of the release of the two detained peacekeepers in South Ossetia had been thoroughly discussed at the meeting with his Georgian counterpart, and added that Russia is paying particular attention to the issue of continued 'provocations' in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The provocations, he said, were politically motivated, and included the formation of alternative government structures as well as being of a "militaristic, forceful nature, including murder."
According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, on September 20 a Georgian special forces unit crossed the border into Abkhazia and attacked servicemen at a military base belonging to the anti-terrorist center of the Abkhazian Interior Ministry, rian.ru reports.
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