Measures have been taken “to increase the combat readiness” of Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Abkhazia, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on July 11.
It said that measures had been taken in response to growing tension in the Abkhaz conflict zone, “as well as in connection with persisting provocations against the Russian peacekeeping forces, which hinder fulfillment of their mandate in full.”
Security has been tightened at Russian peacekeeper base camps, observation posts and checkpoints, the Russian MoD said in the statement posted on its website.
It also said that “additional training” of peacekeeping personnel had been conducted “to explain regulations governing the use of firearms while on duty.”
The Russian MoD statement also lists the conditions under which the Russian peacekeepers have the right to use their firearms.
- self-defense if there is a threat to the life or health of a peacekeeper;
- in case of an attempt to forcefully hinder implementation of duties by peacekeepers;
- to repel an attack by terrorist, a group of saboteurs and gangs and also to detain them;
- to protect civilians in case of threat to their life or health;
“Firearms can also be used to give a signal or to call for help,” the Russian MoD said.
Leaflets outlining peacekeepers’ rights and duties have been distributed among the servicemen, it also said.
Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary chairman, said it was unclear why the Russian peacekeeping forces had taken such measures. He told Parliament that it seemed it was yet another provocative step by the Russian side.
"No one is planning to launch a military operation against them," he added.