A Georgian Interior Ministry official has denied South Ossetian reports that a Georgian armored personnel carrier (APC) was destroyed, dismissing the reports as “utter nonsense.”
The report has also been denied by the commander of Russian peacekeeping forces in the region, Marat Kulakhmetov.
The authorities in breakaway South Ossetia have claimed that their forces destroyed a Georgian APC in a clash close to the village of Nuli on August 6.
“We have destroyed a Georgian APC which was targeting Ossetian villages,” the breakaway region’s Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on the South Ossetian Press and Information website. “Shooting has now ceased. There are no casualties on the South Ossetian side.”
It also claimed that South Ossetian forces had recaptured the heights close to Nuli village overlooking a Ossetian-controlled road linking Tskhinvali to Ossetian villages in the Znauri district, by-passing Georgian-controlled areas.
Marat Kulakhmetov, the commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the conflict zone, however, told Interfax news agency: “No APCs have been blown up.”
Shota Utiashvili, a Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman, dismissed the report as “fiction.” He denied that there had been a major clash close to Nuli, although he acknowledged that brief shooting had taken place.
“Since August 2 not a single major clash has occurred in the region; there has been some minor shooting, but no major clashes,” he told Civil.Ge. “It seems that the Russian media and the secessionist authorities are trying to create a virtual reality and the illusion of war, as if something huge is happening there.”
He said the August 5 Interior Ministry organized tour for foreign diplomats and journalists in Georgian-controlled areas of the breakaway region had proven that Georgia was not engaged in a military build-up.