Just days after apparently agreeing on the issue, Russia and the European Union have clashed over Brussels’ plans to send observers to Georgia.
Moscow says the deal it struck with EU representatives on Monday does not allow for EU monitors to be deployed inside the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said an agreement between the EU and Tbilisi, signed after the Moscow pact, has no validity. The Tbilisi deal does envisage EU observers being placed in the two territories.
Lavrov described the Tbilisi deal as “an absolutely unscrupulous attempt not to honestly explain to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili what the EU had committed itself to”. He said Brussels had been “led on a string by Saakashvili”.
In a further sign of how volatile the region remains, Tbilisi has made accusations against Russia over the fatal shooting of a Georgian policemen near a Russian checkpoint in South Ossetia.
Tbilisi said the Russians were violating the ceasefire that ended last month’s brief war.
Russia has denied any involvement in the shooting, and suggested that South Ossetian separatists may have been to blame.