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Russia Warns Of 'New War' If Georgia Uses Force In Abkhazia

Sergei Bagapsh
MOSCOW -- A "new war" could break out in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia if Tbilisi uses military force to resolve the conflict, Russian media reported, quoting the Russian Defense Ministry.

Separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh accused Georgia on July 5 of planning to take over the region by force earlier this year, though the operation did not come to fruition.

"Such plans by Tbilisi can only be seen as yet another step toward further escalating the tensions in the region, which will bring the conflict into a new war," RIA Novosti agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

Bagapsh, quoted by the ITAR-TASS new agency, said the attack had been planned for April-May of this year, and would have involved simultaneous attacks on the ground.

Abkhazia "succeeded in preventing" the full attack from coming to fruition, he added.

A popular Soviet-era resort, Abkhazia threw off Tbilisi's rule in a 1990s separatist war. It is not recognized by any state, but runs its own affairs. Earlier this week, Abkhazia said it was sealing itself off from Georgian-controlled territory after a series of explosions it blamed on Tbilisi.

In April and May, Georgian spy drones were shot down over Abkhazia by Abkhazian forces, but Georgia denied there had been any flights in the area.

Russia provides financial aid and has peacekeepers in the region, which it says are preventing further bloodshed. Georgia, an aspiring NATO member, accuses Moscow of trying to annex Abkhazia.