Russian troops remain in Perevi

U.S. Senator John Kerry, speaking in Tbilisi today:

“My judgment is that Georgia as a sovereign country needs to be upheld and respected. And the agreement that the Russians have signed up to needs to be upheld.

I think we need to get the focus back from discussions of the August events and how they may unfolded to the realities of what is happening on the ground today and what we need to do to go forward in the interests of protecting the [human] rights and finding an appropriate accommodation that respects the law and the sovereignty.”

Also via Civil.Ge:

The Georgian Interior Ministry said on Saturday that the Russian forces deployed a 500-strong unit in Perevi after retaking the village.

It said that the Russian troops dismantled its checkpoint in Perevi and moved back from the village early on December 12, but returned back eight hours later.

“At 5pm [local time on December 12] one platoon of the Russian occupying forces and one armored vehicle returned back into the village, which started to retake positions there,” the Georgian Interior Ministry said. “Starting from today morning [on December 13] Russian occupying forces were increasing number of its troops and military hardware in the village. At about 9am local time, the Russian occupiers deployed in the village several dozen of paratroopers with six combat helicopters. A mountain rifle battalion was also deployed.”

“The occupiers have threatened to open fire and demanded from the Georgian police to leave the area,” it continued. “In order to defuse tensions, the Georgian law enforcement officers have left Perevi, where over 500 Russian servicemen are currently deployed. OSCE observers, as well as the French, Romanian and Lithuanian ambassadors in Georgia have witnessed this new case of occupation of the village.”

“The Georgian Interior Ministry assesses this fact as a pre-planned provocation, which aims at renewal of the military confrontation,” the statement reads.

On December 12, after the Russian troops pulled back from the village, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) welcomed the move and head of the mission, Hansjörg Haber, said: “The Russian forces in South Ossetia have for a long time refused to dismantle this checkpoint, in spite of clear evidence that it was situated to the west of the administrative boundary line of South Ossetia. But the insistence of the EU Presidency and of the EUMM on the ground has borne fruit.”

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