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Russia increases troops' alert in S. Ossetia
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Russia has deployed its troops and border guards in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia on increased alert following provocations from Georgia, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.

"The situation is really worrisome, provocations from the Georgian side on the eve of the anniversary of the August events last year are continuing," Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for Russian Foreign Ministry, said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"In this regard, combat readiness of Russian military and border guards in South Ossetia has been enhanced," he said.

Nesterenko also said Russia will do everything possible to prevent escalation of tensions.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to South Ossetia Dmitry Medoyev said that regional law enforcement agencies have also been put on high alert.

"South Ossetia's law enforcement agencies and services have been put on high alert before the mourning events, which will take place on August 7-10," the Interfax news agency quoted Medoyev as telling reporters.

Tensions in the border area between Georgia and South Ossetia were heightened days before the first anniversary of Georgia's brief war with Russia in August last year.

While Georgia accused South Ossetia of shooting at Georgian villages, South Ossetian authorities said the suburbs of its capital of Tskhinvali were attacked by Georgian mortars. No one was hurt in the shootings.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Saturday warned of using military force to defend South Ossetia "in case of further provocations threatening the republic's population and the Russian military contingent stationed in South Ossetia."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin also said on Tuesday that the ministry is concerned over actions by Georgia's leadership to remilitarize the country.

"We are deeply concerned by the actions of Georgia's leadership to remilitarize the country, which have met a surprisingly calm and even a positive response in some countries," Karasin said.

Russia would "continue to oppose the (Georgian President Mikhail) Saakashvili regime's rearmament" and was taking "concrete measures to prevent it," he added.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi's rule during a war in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last summer, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia to retake the renegade region that borders Russia. In response, Moscow sent in troops to drive Georgian forces out of the region.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states two weeks after the conflict ended.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2009)

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