TSKHINVAL, September 1. /TASS/. Georgia has beefed up its military presence on the border with South Ossetia, the former Georgian republic’s national security service KGB said in a statement on Sunday.
"Instead of pulling back its armed groups, ending illicit construction works and launching de-escalation, the Georgian side keeps boosting its presence on adjacent territories along the state border of Republic of South Ossetia and Georgia, this creating security threats for the local South Ossetian population," the security service said in a statement.
According to the state agency, about 30 officers of the Georgian interior ministry’s special-purpose forces carrying small arms were deployed in the village of Kobi on the Georgian side of the common border.
Earlier on Sunday, South Ossetian authorities said one of its drones was shot down by Georgian forces near the border village of Uista. The village made headlines earlier this week as Georgia’s construction of a roadblock there triggered a new round of tensions between Tbilisi and Tskhinval.
"Due to the drone incident, the ministry once again strongly requests the EU observer mission in Georgia and co-chairmen of the Geneva discussions on security in Caucasus to take decisive measures regarding the Georgian side, in order to neutralize the real threat of an armed confrontation and to prevent moves that would further escalate tensions," the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"We call upon the Russian Federation, the governments of South Caucasus nations, European Union members and also the international community to condemn the aggressive policies of the Georgian leadership, which has been creating a security threat for the entire Caucasus region," the statement says.
The Foreign Ministry reiterated that "South Ossetia’s stance remains unchanged: the only way to avoid a clash is to immediately withdraw all Georgian military units from the zone of tensions and to stop the illegal construction works."
"There is an obvious direct threat to the lives of hundreds of people, whose houses are located some 150 meters from the area where Georgia is building its military facilities. The very fact that shots were fired onto the territory of South Ossetia and toward populated areas is extremely worrying," the ministry said.
The press service of South Ossetia’s presidential administration, in turn, issued a statement which describes the drone incident as a provocation intended to fuel tensions in the region.
"Firing shots at a South Osstian civilian drone, toward the territory of South Ossetia constitutes a direct provocation and illustrates Georgia’s reluctance to search for compromises and its determination to escalate a yet another armed conflict with the Republic," the presidential press office said.
"By shooting toward South Ossetia, Georgia has once again heated up tensions on the state border between the Republic of South Osstia and Georgia," it said. "Therefore, Georgia confirmed its aggressive plans regarding South Ossetia and created a dangerous situation for residents of border villages."
Tensions on Georgia-South Ossetia border
Earlier this week, South Ossetia informed of illegal construction of a roadblock by Georgia on South Ossetian territory near the Uista settlement. The republic demanded Georgia to remove the roadblock; however, so far, Georgia has refused to do that. In response, Tskhinval stepped up security measures on the common border.
The negotiations on the issue are conducted within the framework of the Mechanism for Incidents Prevention and Response (MIPR), established in February 2009 in the wake of the 2008 Georgian-South Ossetian conflict.
During a MIPR format meeting on Thursday, mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union, South Ossetia demanded that Georgia remove the roadblock and left the talks when Tbilisi envoys refused.
After that, South Ossetia installed roadblocks near the village and beefed up its military and security forces in the area.
The sides failed to reach any compromise during MIPR technical discussions on Friday as well, and the talks were postponed until Monday.
South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov, who has already visited the region twice, assured local residents that they were safe and ruled out the possibility of any military confrontation with Georgia.