Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned today that the European Union monitors in the buffer zone between Georgia and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are “playing with fire” in ignoring a reported upsurge in violence in the region. Lavrov reminded the EU today at a meeting with Latvia’s Foreign Minister that it was to be the guarantor “of the non-use of force” against the newly independent regions.
Georgian government spokesman Shota Utiashvili dismissed the allegations of violence in the buffer zone, claiming that they didn’t have a single military person deployed in the area. He further accused Russia of attempting to destabilize the situation.
Russia agreed to pull its troops from the buffer zone, which it occupied after a brief August war with Georgia, under the condition that the European Union would deploy monitors to the region to replace them. The EU was to resume negotiations with Russia on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as soon as the pullout was completed, which it was earlier this month. However, the EU has so far failed to resume the talks, claiming that the pullout is no longer enough.