Russian troops on the South Ossetia border last week (ITAR-TASS)
17 February 2006 -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today accused Tbilisi of staging provocations against Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.
Ivanov's comments came after Georgian lawmakers on 15 February called for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Georgia's breakaway republic. Georgia accuses the peacekeepers of siding with the separatists.
Ivanov accused Tbilisi of seeking to oust the peacekeepers.
"Our peacekeepers -- who are in South Ossetia on a mandate from the Joint Control Commission -- are in a difficult situation because they are literally being pushed out of there,” he said. “There are constant provocations, and all sort of pretexts are being sought to blame them for what is not actually happening, and, speaking in simple terms, various mean tricks are being staged against them."
Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli said the pullout of the peacekeepers was not an aim in itself and reaffirmed his government's commitment to peacefully resolving the crisis.
Russia's lower house of parliament today unanimously adopted a resolution which said the Georgian parliament's vote threatened to seriously destabilize the situation in South Ossetia.
(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, Novosti-Gruziya, primenews.ge)