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Georgia: Putin Prepared To Act Militarily

Moscow, 13 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia says it is prepared to act militarily if Georgia fails to destroy alleged terrorist bases in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, which lies close to the border with Chechnya. President Vladimir Putin made the statement in a letter he sent to the UN Security Council members, as well as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In the letter, Putin said Russia's success in containing terrorist operations in Chechnya "forced the guerrillas to move their bases to Georgia."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said specific attack proposals will be presented to Putin in the near future.

Georgia's parliament passed appeals to the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union to "take real measures to help Georgia and prevent new military aggression." Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze said after talks with EU ambassadors to Georgia that Tbilisi is "doing everything possible to ease the tension."

The United States criticized Putin for suggesting that he might launch military strikes on the Chechen rebels. The State Department said it strongly supports Georgia's territorial integrity and opposes any unilateral military action in Georgia.