In the early hours of July 7, Georgian peacekeepers, deployed in the South Ossetian conflict zone, seized nine trucks belonging to Russian peacekeepers and that were loaded with arms, ammunition and uniforms.
According to the Georgian side, the convoy of trucks was en route from Russia to Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway South Ossetia.
“Such a large number of arms could not be for peacekeeping purposes. We will take these trucks to Gori [in central Georgia, near the conflict zone] and start our investigation,” Georgian Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who arrived earlier to the conflict zone, told reporters.
The media reports that the trucks were detained after Georgian troops discovered some 300 unguided missiles, commonly used by helicopter gunships. The Georgian side maintains that this ammunition can not be intended for the peacekeeping purposes, as the Russian military claims.
“We have no problem with the uniforms and we will return them to the peacekeepers, but the arms will be confiscated,” Georgian Security Minister Vano Merabishvili, who also arrived in the conflict zone with Okruashvili, told reporters.
Georgian authorities have maintained that the Russian military is involved in illegally supplying the South Ossetian side with weapons and ammunition. Tbilisi reported in June that 160-170 trucks, loaded with weapons, entered the breakaway South Ossetia through Roki pass which links Russia’s North Ossetian Republic with its South Ossetian neighbor. Tbilisi has also recently accused the authorities in breakaway South Ossetia of distributing arms among the local population.