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Russia to increase border troops in Abkhazia, S. Ossetia
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Russia plans to increase the number of troops it has deployed in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from around 1,800 to 3,000 by the end of the year, a deputy foreign minister said Wednesday.

"Presently, there are some 1,000 Russian military personnel in Abkhazia and up to 800 in South Ossetia," Grigory Karasin said, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

He said that by the end of the year there will be 1,500 troops in each region.

Karasin also said Russia has verified reports that say Ukraine was involved in arm shipments to Georgia prior to the brief war between Georgia and Russia last summer.

"We do hope that Ukraine, as a state near to us, will stop playing these dangerous games, creating problems in current relations, already problematical," he said.

Tensions in the border area between Georgia and its breakaway region of 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.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi's rule during a war in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the former 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 6, 2009)

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