Russian Air Force head Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said on Wednesday S-300 systems had been placed in Abkhazia to protect the airspace of Abkhazia and the other former Georgian republic of South Ossetia. He did not say how many S-300s had been deployed.
“We are concerned about [Russia‘s] announcement about the deployment of air defense systems in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It [deployment] harms stability in the region,” a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry told a news conference in Paris.
France acted as an intermediary in the settlement of a five-day conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia in August 2008.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia two days after the conflict, which began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
Russia signed agreements with South Ossetia and Abkhazia earlier this year on establishing permanent military bases in the republics.
The bases are located in Gudauta, on Abkhazia’s Black Sea coast, and in South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali. Each base hosts up to 1,700 servicemen, T-62 tanks, light armored vehicles, air defense systems and a variety of aircraft.
On Wednesday, the Georgian Foreign Ministry described the Russian move as “extremely dangerous and provocative,” saying it threatened “not only the Black Sea region, but European security as a whole.”
Washington later downplayed the Russian move by saying that the move was not a new development as Moscow had been deploying S-300 missiles in Abkhazia for the past two years.
PARIS, August 12 (RIA Novosti)
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