Russian Ministry of Defense warned Georgia it would use force “to protect citizens” in South Ossetia in case of “further provocations” by Tbilisi.
The South Ossetian side claimed that two mortar rounds were fired from the village of Ditsi, on the Georgian side of administrative border, in direction of its military observation post on Saturday morning. The Georgian Interior Ministry has strongly denied the allegation and said no fire at all was opened from either side.
A spokesman for the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) told Civil.Ge that there was no shooting, but four explosions occurred on the South Ossetian side of the administrative border; causes of the explosions remain unknown, the spokesman said and added that EUMM was still looking into the matter and it would release a statement later.
In a statement posted on its website on August 1, the Russian Ministry of Defense said “South Ossetia came under shelling from mortars and grenade-launchers for several times between July 29 and August 1.”
“Fire was directed towards an observation post of the South Ossetian military forces, which indicates on a provocative nature of these acts,” the Russian MoD said. “The Russian Ministry of Defense considers these actions as an attempt by the Georgian leadership to escalate situation in the region.”
“Events of August, 2008 were developing with the same scenario, which led to launch of military aggression by Georgia against South Ossetia and [led] to an attack on Russian peacekeeping forces.”
“Actions of this type trigger the Russian Defense Ministry’s serious concern. In the event of further provocations threatening the population of the republic and the Russian military contingent based on the territory of South Ossetia, the Russian Defence Ministry reserves the right to use all available force and means to defend the citizens of the republic of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen,” the Russian MoD said.
On July 31 officials from the Georgian and South Ossetian sides held an ad-hoc informal meeting, facilitated by the EU monitors, in the village of Ergneti to discuss the July 29 shooting incident. The Russian side was not present.
Tbilisi and Tskhinvali blamed each other of opening fire on July 29 and at a meeting on July 31 the sides “repeated their respective versions of events,” according to EUMM.
EUMM called on all sides to show restraint and refrain “from words and actions that could be considered provocative,” as the anniversary of the August war approaches.