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Western observers pulling out of Abkhazia

Western observers pulling out of Abkhazia

Western observers pulled out of Georgia on 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 came as tensions between Georgia and Russia remain high.
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.
Since its war with Georgia last August, Russia has been building military bases, storage facilities for supplies, and roads in the two regions, which Moscow has recognized as independent. Around 6,000 Russian troops are based in each region. Nicaragua is the only other nation that has recognized the two regions as independent.
David Darchiashvili, the chairman of Georgia's parliamentary committee on European integration, welcomed the OSCE pullout, saying: "It is a step in the right direction because it will practically lead to the isolation of Russia." He said, the withdrawal of the mission "is the result of a Russian veto and the world community has seen that."
Meanwhile, United Nations observers also were scheduled to begin withdrawing from Abkhazia on 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 : 2021-05-16 11:11 GMT+08:00