A year after war, Georgia and Russia point fingers over provocations
Tensions are spiking again, creating concerns about another conflict.
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Last year's war broke out after Georgian forces assaulted the breakaway statelet of South Ossetia, a de facto Russian protectorate, and were repelled by Russian tanks. The central dispute between the two has never been resolved, and there have been reports of Russian and Georgian troops taking potshots at one another along the border and belligerent words from both sides.
Though few expect any repeat of last summer's destructive blitzkrieg-like conflict, neither side has been taking any chances this year.
Russia reportedly "beefed up" its forces along the troubled cease-fire line this week, and a top Foreign Ministry official warned of unspecified "Georgian provocations" aimed at stoking anniversary tensions. Russia claims that the US and former Soviet states like Ukraine are rearming Georgia for another attempt to seize South Ossetia and its fellow breakaway republic, Abkhazia.
"It is highly regrettable that the Americans are going to pump up Mikhael Saakashvili's military machine. That's a strange way to support democracy," Russian State Secretary, Grigory Karasin, told journalists this week.
Georgia: 'Moscow is stirring pot'
Georgian leaders insist it's Moscow that's stirring the pot, aiming to finish its business with Georgia by unseating President Mikhael Saakashvili and ending the little Caucasian state's quixotic effort to integrate with the West which began with 2003's "Rose Revolution."
"We don't expect a new Russian invasion, but the military threat is there. Russian troops are encamped just a few miles from our capital city, and this reality never leaves us," says Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. "What worries us now are these aggressive Russian pronouncements, which are growing louder."