Georgia calls for EU help as tensions flare

Georgia calls for EU help as tensions flare

ANDREW RETTMAN, 05.08.2009, euobserver: Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has called for EU and US help to prevent a renewal of fighting with Russia three days before the one year anniversary of the war.

"The latest [Russian army] manoeuvres are worrying. They refuse to respond to calls from European observers and unfortunately the media in Moscow are announcing a situation of imminent conflict," he told French radio station RTL on Tuesday (4 August).

Russian soldiers in Georgia (Photo:

"Despite all that, I am confident that Europe and the United States will send a clear message [to Russia]."

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev later telephoned US leader Barack Obama to wish him happy birthday, with Mr Obama calling for "decreased tensions" the White House said.

The remarks come after Russia put its 7,000 or so troops in Georgia´s breakaway South Ossetia province on high alert citing Georgian "provocations."

The number of incidents on the South Ossetia boundary line has multiplied in recent days.

On Tuesday, Georgia accused Russia of trying to set up a military checkpoint in the village of Kvechi on the Georgia-controlled side of the line. It also said two grenades were fired towards a Georgian police post.

South Ossetia had on Monday reported that three mortar rounds were fired from a Georgian-controlled village to the hamlet of Ortev on its side of the boundary.

The 7 August 2008 war erupted in a battle between Russian and Georgian forces over the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, with Russian tanks at one point poised to enter Tbilisi.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy helped negotiate a ceasefire but later gave Russia the EU´s blessing to keep thousands of soldiers inside disputed Georgian zones.

The brief war, which cost hundreds of civilian lives, came as a shock to former Soviet countries, raising fears of a new wave of Russian imperialism.