The Tonka Report

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Black Sea Port A Flash Point For Georgia And Russia As Tensions Rise

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Michael Schwirtz / The New York Times – September 9, 2009

MOSCOW — Rising tensions between Russia and Georgia over shipping rights to a breakaway Georgian region have opened a potential new theater for conflict between the countries, a little more than a year after they went to war.

Georgia’s coast guard has commandeered five merchant vessels from various countries this year for violating Georgian laws on shipping to a Black Sea port in Abkhazia, the breakaway region. Last week, a Georgian court sentenced the captain of a Turkish cargo ship to 24 years in prison for border violations, though he was quickly released at Turkey’s behest. Russia has condemned the actions and has pledged coast guard support to Abkhazia’s separatist government.

“The actions of the Georgian leadership violate international maritime laws and are an attempt to impose a sea blockade on Abkhazia,” Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said last week. “They risk aggravating the military and political situation in the region and could result in serious armed incidents.”

By tightening control over its corner of the Black Sea, Georgia appears to be trying to reassert some measure of authority over Abkhazia, since it effectively lost control over the region and another breakaway enclave, South Ossetia, after last year’s war.

Link to entire article below…

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/world/europe/10georgia.html?_r=1&hp

Written by Steven John Hibbs

September 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

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