Russians accused over Abkhazia "second front"

Russians accused over Abkhazia "second front"
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Once the favourite holiday destination of the Soviet Union’s elite, Abkhazia now appears to be the “second front” in the Georgia-Russia crisis.

Already present as peacekeepers, Russian soldiers stand accused by Tbilisi of actively participating in an offensive by Abkhaz separatists. Moscow denies this.

The separatist authority’s leader, Sergei Bagapsh, maintains his forces are ready to act independently. He says he has ordered 1,000 troops to push the Georgian military out of the Kodori gorge, a strategic pocket of territory.

Both pro-Russian regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have unilaterally declared independence from Georgia, waging a long campaign to win international recognition.

According to Russian media, Abkhaz authorities are declaring a state of war in part of the capital Sukhumi as well as in several other areas of the enclave.

Off the Black Sea coast, speculation continues about the deployment of Russian warships. Moscow claims they are not planning to block deliveries of oil but says their crews have the right to search other ships.

Ukraine meanwhile says it could prevent the Russian vessels returning to their Ukrainian base.

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