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Russian Raids Continuing Despite Georgian Moves

  • RFE/RL

Russian troops on the road to Tskhinvali on August 10

Georgia says Russia has been continuing military attacks on Georgian territory despite Tbilisi's announcement that it was pulling Georgian forces out of the breakaway region of South Ossetia and calling for a cease-fire and talks with Moscow.

A Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili, told the AFP news agency that the Georgian city of Gori, just south of the South Ossetian border, had been attacked again by Russian artillery and planes.

After four days of fighting, Russian forces were reported in control of South Ossetia's city of Tskhinvali and the surrounding areas.

Abkhazia Attacked

Russian planes have also been bombing the Kodori Gorge area, the last part of the breakaway region of Abkhazia controlled by Georgia. Zugdidi, near the de facto border with Abkhazia, and other Georgian towns were hit by bombs.

UN observers in Abkhazia confirmed that the Georgian-controlled pocket in the separatist region has come under aerial bombardment.

Edmond Mulet, the assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, told the UN Security Council that UN Observer Mission in Georgia also observed the movement by the Abkhaz separatists of troops and heavy weapons toward the Kodori Gorge.

Citing a decree by Abkhaz separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh, Russian news agencies said a 10-day "state of war" has been introduced in several territories close to Abkhazia's de facto border with Georgia.

Bagapsh also said he was sending 1,000 troops to the Kodori Gorge.

In Tbilisi, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb have arrived for talks with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Kouchner, whose country holds the European Union presidency, is expected to travel to Moscow on August 11 on a mission to mediate in the conflict in South Ossetia on behalf of the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to visit Moscow this week for talks with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia Denies 'Regime Change' Accusation

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia cannot view Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as a partner because he has issued orders to commit "war crimes which resulted in thousands of deaths" of civilians.

Lavrov told journalists that Saakashvili's departure is not necessary to resolve the crisis over in South Ossetia.

He said peace would be restored when Georgian troops leave South Ossetia and an agreement on the nonuse of force is signed. Earlier, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, charged that Russia was interested in "regime change" in Georgia.

Russian Navy Sinks Georgian Boat

Meanwhile, Russia's navy reportedly sank a Georgian naval vessel after a skirmish in the Black Sea.

Russian news agencies quoted Defense Ministry officials as saying Georgian warships had made two attempts to attack Russian ships, which returned fire, as a result of which one of the Georgian boats sank.

Georgian officials did not immediately comment on the report. Such a battle would mark an escalation of the fighting that has raged between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia.

Photo Gallery

Destruction In Gori

Photos by RFE/RL's Georgian Service correspondent of a town under attack

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