Russia lashes out at Georgia

MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday accused Georgia of preparing a series of provocations on its de-facto border with breakaway South Ossetia ahead of the first anniversary of Moscow's war with Tbilisi.

Tensions have been rising between the ex-Soviet states turned foes over the last days in the volatile Caucasus region as they prepare to mark the August 7 anniversary of the outbreak of the war.

"According to our information, the Georgian leadership is organising various 'events' on the border with South Ossetia for the anniversary of August 2008," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the government Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper.

"They have a clearly provocative character," he added.

The Russian defence ministry warned at the weekend in a startling statement that the military reserved the right to hit back with force if Tbilisi continued carrying out "provocations" in the area.

"In such an explosive region, the developments can be dangerous.

"Therefore we are obliged to envisage different possibilities of action, including in the media field," Karasin said, accusing Georgia of carrying out an "information war" against Russia.

The war last year erupted when an attempt by Georgian military to retake South Ossetia was rebuffed by Russia. Moscow then sent troops and tanks deep into Georgian territory.

After the war, Russian forces mostly withdrew into South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia but Moscow then infuriated the West by recognising both regions as independent.