May 8, 2008

Russia has threatened to send more troops to the Georgian separatist province of Abkhazia if Georgia adds to its own military presence in the region, Russian news agencies have quoted the defence ministry as saying.

The threat to send almost 500 more soldiers came despite an outcry from Georgia and its allies over earlier deployments.

“Further steps by Georgia’s military structures adding to the deployment of troops in the conflict zone can only lead to necessary and adequate measures by the Russian side to raise the peacekeeping contingent to the maximum number allowed,” the ministry said in a statement.

A statement quoted by Interfax and RIA Novosti on Thursday said the current Russian troop level was 2,542 servicemen and that the maximum allowed under accords ending fighting between Georgia and Abkhaz rebels in the 1990s was 3,000.

The latest deployment of reinforcements was announced last week.

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