Caucasus conflict intensifies despite ceasefire calls

 Caucasus conflict intensifies despite ceasefire calls
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International calls for peace are multiplying. But Moscow looks in no mood to compromise. After taking control of the South Ossetian capital, Russian troops have, says Georgia, advanced into the town of Gori in Georgia proper, just 60 km from Tbilisi. Moscow denies this. However, Russia has confirmed it has crossed the de facto border of Georgia’s other breakaway region, Abkhazia.

President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia’s military campaign in South Ossetia is nearly complete. The Kremlin refutes claims Georgia is observing a unilateral ceasefire over the separatist enclave. It accuses Tbilisi of continuing to shell Russian troops. Georgia says it is moving its army back to defend the country’s capital. As the body count rises, shuttle diplomacy has taken on a new urgency.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is flying to Georgia and Russia on Tuesday, following in the footsteps of his foreign minister. Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili has backed an EU peace plan while Moscow has called for an emergency meeting with NATO.

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