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Western observers pulling out of Abkhazia

Western observers pulling out of Abkhazia

Western observers pulled out of Georgia Tuesday after Russia blocked an extension of the mission to observe the cease-fire that ended last year's war.
The pullout of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission comes as fears of a new war between Georgia and Russia grow.
OSCE spokeswoman Martha Freeman said the organization's 20 observers packed up their post in the village of Karaleti, near the region of South Ossetia, on Tuesday.
The withdrawal follows Russia's refusal last year to agree to extending the mission's mandate because other OSCE members refused to recognize South Ossetia and another region, Abkhazia, as independent nations. Russia and Nicaragua are the only nations to recognize the two regions as independent.
Meanwhile, United Nations observers were also scheduled to begin withdrawing from Abkhazia Tuesday, ending a 16-year mission there. That follows Russia's recent veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have extended that mission.
The withdrawals leave only European Union observers remaining in Georgia, though they have been blocked from traveling to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
As the first anniversary of the war in which Russia routed Georgia's army approaches, tensions have risen between the two countries, and some experts have warned that new fighting could break out.
On Monday, Russia began large-scale military exercises in the regions just over the border from Georgia. The Caucasus 2009 war games are being seen by many experts as a direct threat to Georgia.


Updated : 2021-06-25 05:59 GMT+08:00