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03 May 2009

Russia Digs In Alongside Breakaway Territories

from NY Times by Ellen Barry

Russian border guards on Saturday began taking up long-term positions along the boundaries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, an arrangement that will probably mean sustained tension in the two breakaway Georgian territories.

Security treaties signed on Thursday in Moscow between Russia and the two territories called for joint patrols in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for an unspecified period along the boundaries that separate the enclaves from the rest of Georgia.

The State Department expressed “serious concern” over the arrangement, saying it violated Georgia’s territorial integrity and broke commitments made in a cease-fire agreement reached last fall. The territories were at the heart of a war last August between Russia and Georgia; the conflict raised tensions between Moscow and the West to a level not seen since the end of the cold war.

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